Black conservative, Shelby Steele, takes on Black Lives Matter and Liberalism in his latest documentary What Killed Michael Brown? — an unflinching investigation into America’s response to the killing of Michael Brown and, later, George Floyd. Check out the trailer above. The full documentary was to premier on Amazon Prime on October 16, 2020 but was rejected. It is now premiering on October 16, 2020 on Vimeo On Demand.
Acclaimed writer, Shelby Steele, has long argued that systemic racism is more a strategy than a truth, and that the universal oppression of black Americans is largely over with. But the 2014 shooting of a black teen, Michael Brown, in Ferguson, Missouri by a white policeman shook the nation to its core. During Steele’s investigation of Ferguson, America was once again rocked by the brutal killing of George Floyd. Didn’t these killings, and the long list of others like them, put the lie to Steele’s argument?
Filmmaker Eli Steele said Amazon has blocked a new film about the death of Michael Brown from appearing on its platform and he feels it’s simply because his story “is not the politically correct narrative.” See story at the bottom of this page.
You can purchase What Killed Michael Brown? on Amazon but you cannot watch What Killed Michael Brown? on Amazon Prime.
What Killed Michael Brown: An Interview With Dr. Shelby Steele
Shelby Steele on his new film “What Killed Michael Brown”
Shelby Steele discusses his new film “What Killed Michael Brown?”
What’s Being Said About “What Killed Michael Brown”
Shelby Steele is experiencing a revival. For over 30 years, the controversial black American essayist and culture critic has consistently produced some of the most original insights to be found on the precarious issue of race in America and has been met with reactions that range from reverence to revulsion. Usually, it’s one reaction or the other. To his critics, Steele is a race traitor, a contrarian black conservative who makes a living assuaging the guilty consciences of whites at the expense of his own people. To his admirers, he is a lone voice of clarity in the chaos of America’s racial discourse who, at 74 years of age, continues to speak uncomfortable and disconcerting truths to power. But his greatest strength may turn out to be a knack for anticipation. As the social upheavals inspired by America’s “racial reckoning” rage on, Steele’s work now looks prescient—it identified the underlying forces that would eventually shape our explosive cultural moment, and offers a more honest accounting of our past and present.
~ Quillette Magazine
Eli Steele is following up his powerful 2018 documentary on America, its determination to race-define, and its growing multiracial citizenry, How Jack Became Black, with another film taking on a major controversy — the provocatively titled What Killed Michael Brown? The documentary considers Brown’s 2014 police shooting, death, and the aftermath — and the complex, underlying societal causes that define the film’s important first word, what. Eli is the producer, director, and editor, while his father, the acclaimed conservative author, Shelby Steele, is the film’s writer and narrator. The film explores what Shelby Steele calls America’s true original sin: not slavery, but “the use of race as a means to power.” Questions asked — Was it really racism that caused the death of Michael Brown? Has the truth become the lie, and the lie truth? — and answered by the Steeles come against a backdrop of the “real victimization of black America.” ~ National Review Magazine
“The hardest thing in the world is to come into freedom when you have never experienced it. It’s not a part, [that struggle with freedom] is not what we struggled with, we struggled with oppression, racism, bigotry. Now we have freedom.” He speaks about how that was confusing because African Americas did not have a lot of experience with freedom. He calls it a learning period. “And so rather than fight through this period and really master freedom. We say, oh no, our problem is racism, racism is still here.” He goes on to point out that is what the real problem is. “We are afraid of freedom. And so rather than face that real problem, we say, it’s racism.” ~ Viral Hare
In a Zoom press conference with journalists last week, Dr. Steele said the main goal of his film is to “simply reveal these kinds of [race] fictions. We’re not partisan. We don’t get into politics. It’s cultural. We get into the cultures where the real contest is and that’s where we try to start.” ~ RedState
“What is interesting to me is that the events, you know, like Trayvon Martin, Freddie Gray in Baltimore, Eric Garner in New York, Michael Brown, now George Floyd with the others, all seem to trigger the same reflexive pattern in American life and particularly the way they are covered in the media. There’s this rush that’s almost a desperate frenzy to see the event as an example of black victimization, to establish it as black victimization, and that, in a sense, becomes the argument.” ~ Washington Examiner
“One of the things we hope comes out of this film is that you, the viewer, sees that over and over we’ll go down that road. ‘We’ll make race count here. We’ll make it right. We’ll use race to do the good thing to uplift people.’ That’s the worst thing you can ever hear. Then you know corruption will follow.” ~ The Federalist
Mr. Steele’s conclusions are unlikely to meet with the approval of Black Lives Matter, which has argued that ‘systemic racism is responsible for woes such as poverty, incarceration and police shootings, calling for government reparations and moving funding from police departments to social services.
“Their story line is that we’re all victims. White supremacy. Some esoteric arguments of how we’re all oppressed and demeaned and diminished constantly,” Steele said. “ That’s an attempt to expand victimization.” ~ Washington Times
Amazon Rejected “What Killed Michael Brown?”
September 29: “What Killed Michael Brown?” was uploaded onto the Amazon Video Direct Platform for review.
October 1st: We received notice that the film was not available to be published on October 16th since it had been placed into “content review.” Their general explanation states that a film warrants a review if it has offensive content, illegal and infringing content, public domain contain, or poor customer experience offensive content. Our film has not violated any of the above conditions — unless offering a differing cultural viewpoint is offensive.
October 2 to October 12: We sent Amazon numerous emails, receiving either generic responses or no responses at all. We still held out.
October 14 – early evening: Fox News Article
Amazon bans ‘What Killed Michael Brown?’ documentary, director says
Filmmaker Eli Steele said Amazon has blocked a new film about the death of Michael Brown from appearing on its platform and he feels it’s simply because his story “is not the politically correct narrative.”
Brown’s 2014 death sparked massive demonstrations in Ferguson, Mo., and around the country, helping solidify the Black Lives Matter movement in the process.
Amazon told Steele, who directed “What Killed Michael Brown?”, via email that the film did not meet the tech giant’s “content quality expectations” and would not be eligible to appear on the service.
“We will not be accepting resubmission of this title and this decision may not be appealed,” Amazon’s email added.
Amazon did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The decision came shortly after Wall Street Journal columnist Jason Riley essentially predicted the outcome with a piece headlined, “Will Amazon Suppress the True Michael Brown Story?”
Riley wrote that the “fashionable explanation for what happened to Brown” was “so-called systemic racism,” but Steele’s film didn’t fit the typical agenda of mainstream media when telling the story.
Eli’s father, the well-known conservative race scholar Shelby Steele, wrote and narrated the film.
Steele first assumed the email was a result of technical problems with the lengthy process of getting a film to appear on Amazon’s video platform.
“Never once did it occur to me that the film would be rejected for content,” Steele told Fox News. “It was shocking to me… if you watch the film, you hear voices from all over.”
He said Amazon allows other Brown-related films that are the “appropriate narrative,” compared to the one his father penned.
“Our side is not the politically correct narrative,” he said. “We speak the truth… we make no assumptions, no conspiracy, we don’t do any of that. It’s an intellectual film, it’s not a conspiracy film or anything that would warrant being blocked.”
The younger Steele articulated his thoughts with an open letter published online.