The Tale of Amazon and Two black Documentaries

What Killed Michael Brown? & Hebrews to Negroes: Wake Up Black America

4 min readNov 18, 2022


Photo by KAL VISUALS on Unsplash

By June 2020, there were protests and riots nationwide over the police killings of Black Americans like Breonna Taylor and George Floyd. Amazon, the biggest retailer in the world, placed a “Black Lives Matter” banner at the top of its website to “stand in solidarity with the Black community”.

Amazon received complaints, customers felt that the “Black Lives Matter” banner was divisive and were offended.

Amazon’s founder and CEO, Jeff Bezos, dismissed the complaints. Bezos said the phrase “Black Lives Matter” doesn’t mean other lives don’t matter, it speaks to racism and the disproportional risk black people face when encountering law enforcement.

Amazon stood its ground and remained in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement, but not with the entire Black community.

Months later, Amazon Prime Video refused to stream a documentary called What Killed Michael Brown? because the title didn’t meet content quality expectations and the film was not eligible for publishing. Amazon Prime also told the film’s creators, “We will not be accepting resubmission of this title, and this decision may not be appealed.”

Shelby Steele, a well-known Black conservative, wrote the script. The documentary told the story of the 2014 police shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO, from the point of view of Ferguson residents who didn’t agree with how the media covered the story and didn’t want Black Lives Matter activists coming into their town.

In other words, the film lambasted the narrative Amazon wholeheartedly embraced a few months earlier. More importantly, the protests and riots, were revered as “America’s racial reckoning,” and Amazon didn’t want to offend a host of “woke” customers by streaming a documentary they would find offensive and accuse Amazon of being on the “wrong side of history”.

So, the documentary What Killed Michael Brown? was “canceled”.

Curious customers that wanted to watch the film, along with right-wing media outlets, complained about censorship and accused Amazon of being opposed to ideological diversity and…




J. Pharoah Doss is a columnist for the New Pittsburgh Courier.