If you're looking to learn more about systemic racism in the United States, Ava DuVernay’s Array 101 just might be the perfect tool. Famous for her record-breaking films and outspoken social commentary, DuVernay is stepping up even further to help educate others about the Black experience. Her latest project, Array 101, is an online education platform full of learning guides to accompany her films and series.
DuVernay's projects highlight important moments in Black history in the U.S. There's 13th, the documentary outlining the racial inequality and the disproportion of Black people to Caucasians in the prison system; Selma, a retelling of Martin Luther King Jr.'s march to Montgomery, Alabama; and When They See Us, her renowned Netflix biopic about the Exonerated Five. But which each of her projects can serve as education tools for examining racism, white privilege, and an unjust justice system, each of her projects can also raise even more questions, from people wanting to learn more about the topics she addresses, to people looking for ways to take action.
After a fruitless search for an organization to partner with that could help her combine her work with furthering education, DuVernay decided to create her own informational platform. Through her media company, Array, DuVernay launched the Array 101 website on May 28.
“We’re going back into the catalog, creating very deep learning companions to help people elevate their understanding of what they’ve watched and go further to use the work as a springboard into deeper understanding,” DuVernay told Fast Company about the project. “As opposed to something you watched and felt bad about and just kept going.”
The platform launched with lessons surrounding DuVernay's four-part limited series, When They See Us, addressing the hardships and injustices suffered by the Exonerated Five during their arrests, interrogations, trials, incarcerations, and eventual releases.
The website's lessons, which are expected to eventually cover many of DuVernay's projects, are geared toward teens and adults. She said she hopes educators and parents will use Array 101 as a resource for both their children and for themselves, and the the lessons aren't just learned and forgotten, but that they push boundaries, spark conversations, and help those searching for the next tangible steps in the fight toward racial equality.
“It’s such a tender time right now nationally with so much going on. People, and myself, are feeling enraged,” DuVernay said to Fast Company. “I feel strongly that history and knowledge of what we’re in the midst of gives context to our feelings and allows us to move into a place of action instead of just dread and sadness.”
The first lesson outlining When They See Us is live on the Array 101 website now.