Pop icon Billie Eilish and fitness influencer and “Bad Ass Vegan” John Lewis are teaming up for a new documentary exploring the cause and effects of environmental racism and food disparities in Black communities across the US.
They’re Trying to Kill Us, releasing online Nov. 11, employs an all-star cast and crew to tell an intricate story of food inequality and injustice through the lens of hip hop and urban culture.
Directed by Keegan Kuhn, co-director of Cowspiracy and What the Health, and Lewis, the new documentary is a staggering look at how structural racism and concerted government efforts have impacted the health of Black and Indigenous communities across America.
The film follows Lewis as he crosses the country, looking for answers as to why Americans of Color experience higher rates of chronic disease while “examining the intersections of food, disease, race, poverty, institutional racism, and government corruption,” according to the movie’s website.
Eilish, a vocal vegan and environmental activist who’s supported Global Citizen events including One World: Together at Home and Global Citizen Live, joined the film as an executive producer alongside vegan NBA athlete Chris Paul.
“I want people to see this film. It is so important to help all of us understand the depth of the issue, and that we must all take action to change the food system,” said Eilish.
More than 38 million Americans do not have access to healthy nutritious foods and food insecurity disproportionately affects Black Americans at a rate of over 21%. Indigenous communities report the highest rates of food insecurity, with 25% of Indigenous people experiencing food insecurity.
They’re Trying to Kill Us features interviews from health experts and celebrities including Maggie Q, Ne-Yo, Cedric the Entertainer, Dame Dash, and more. Using the influence of hip hop and prominent Black vegan celebs, the film connects chronic illness in Black and brown communities with corruption and intentional low access to healthy, plant based foods.
“If our idea of justice is narrowly focused only on animals used and abused in farms then we are practicing speciesism in my opinion,” said co-director Kuhn. “We must incorporate all aspects of injustice in the vegan movement otherwise we are just as bad as any other single issue movement that doesn’t see the interconnectedness and intersections of oppressive systems.”
Veganism and plant based diets have been shown to have positive health benefits and lower carbon footprints. The meat and dairy industry alone account for 14% of global greenhouse gas emissions. They’re Trying to Kill Us makes the case for healthier diets and climate justice using research and influential vegan celebs.
“I want people to feel empowered after watching the film,” said Lewis, a vegan lifestyle advocate. “I want audiences to feel inspired and encouraged to take their health back, to take their communities back, and to come together to restructure our food system.”
The documentary premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival on Juneteenth, a day commemorating the emancipation of enslaved African Americans. The film will be available for wide release online, with the first $1 million made reportedly going toward charity.