Film Club: ‘Why I Won’t Teach My Son ‘Black Codes’’

Film Club: ‘Why I Won’t Teach My Son ‘Black Codes’’

Find all our Film Club films here.

Why I Won’t Teach My Son ‘Black Codes’” is a four-minute animated film that touches on themes of race and parenting. It profiles Debra, a new mother, who describes her hopes and fears about raising a black son in America. Although her son is just 1, she knows soon he will be perceived as a “big black boy.”

Can she overcome the “systems” she feels are in place to oppress her young son?


1. Watch the short film above. While you watch, you might take notes using our Film Club Double-Entry Journal (PDF) to help you remember specific moments.

2. After watching, think about these questions:

  • What questions do you still have?

  • What connections can you make between this film and your own life or experience? Why? Does this film remind you of anything else you’ve read or seen? If so, how and why?

3. An additional challenge | Respond to the essential question at the top of this post: What challenges do parents face in raising and protecting their black sons in America?

4. Next, join the conversation by clicking on the comment button and posting in the box that opens on the right. (Students 13 and older are invited to comment, although teachers of younger students are welcome to post what their students have to say.)

5. After you have posted, try reading back to see what others have said, then respond to someone else by posting another comment. Use the “Reply” button or the @ symbol to address that student directly.


See all the films in this series.

Read our list of practical teaching ideas, along with responses from students and teachers, for how you can use these documentaries in the classroom.

Want to make sure you never miss a film? Add Film Club to your Google calendar to receive weekly reminders and see our full publishing schedule for the 2019-20 school year.