Amazon has done a 360. Earlier this month, the tech giant’s streaming platform, Prime Video, canceled a documentary on race relations by Black conservative filmmaker Shelby Steele. Now, Amazon said it will indeed offer the documentary, “What Killed Michael Brown?”
“What Killed Michael Brown?” is about the killing of Michael Brown by a police officer that set off riots in Ferguson, Missouri, in 2014. The documentary was written and narrated by Steele, a prominent scholar with the Hoover Institution. The film is directed by Steele’s filmmaker son, Eli Steele.
Shelby has long rejected the notion that there is systemic racism, PJ Media reported.
The timely documentary “doesn’t fit the dominant narrative of white police officers killing young Black men because of systemic racism,” claimed a Wall Street Journal editorial.
In an email, Amazon informed the Steeles that their film was “not eligible for publishing” because it “doesn’t meet Prime Video’s content quality expectations.” Amazon went on to say it “will not be accepting resubmission of this title and this decision may not be appealed.”
The Steeles had queried Prime Video Direct, the self-distribution arm of Amazon’s streaming platform, which launched in 2016 to compete with YouTube and Vimeo.
On the initial rejection by Amazon, the younger Steele told religious news site World, “Black voices speaking truth to power have been repeatedly silenced in America when they do not fit the acceptable narrative…Amazon has silenced those voices.”
Some people accused Amazon of rejecting the film because of its conservative slant. Amazon has now reversed its decision and the film is being published, according to The Wall Street Journal.
The documentary challenges reported and widely accepted facts of the Brown case and suggests that the police might not be at fault. It “examines how inaccuracies such as the myth that Brown had his hands up just before he was shot—leading to the rallying cry, ‘Hands up, don’t shoot’—take root in the American imagination,” World reported.
In an opinion piece in The Times of San Diego, Shelby discussed how, in his opinion, “those who advocate for social justice with ‘hands up, don’t shoot’ seek a poetic truth — one that is not grounded in evidence, but a deception that demands us to conflate the present with past persecution.”
Shelby is a former San Jose State University literature professor and has won a National Book Critics Circle Award as well as an Emmy Award for a documentary he co-wrote, produced, and narrated for the PBS news program “Frontline.”
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A veteran of the civil rights movement in the 1960s, Shelby has long rejected the notion that there is systemic racism, PJ Media reported.
“Society is responsible for us because racism is so systemic. Well, that’s a corruption, and I know it’s a corruption because the truth of the matter is Blacks have never been less oppressed than they are today,” Shelby said in June during an interview on Mark Levin’s Fox-TV program “Life, Liberty, and Levin”.
“Opportunity is around every corner,” Shelby continued. “In all of this, no one ever stops to say, ‘Well, you’re unhappy with where minorities are at in American life, and Blacks continue to be at the bottom of most socioeconomic measures. You’re unhappy about that.’
“Well, why don’t you take some responsibility for that? Why don’t you take more responsibility? I would be happy to look at all the usual bad guys, the police and so forth, if we had the nerve, the courage to look at Black people. To look at Black Americans, minority Americans, and say, you’re not carrying your own weight,” Shelby said.