I am grateful to have spent some of my holiday weekend in the theater watching the film Creed. It floored me. I expected the exciting build up of a young boxer fighting for more than just a win. I was excited that Ryan Coogler was directing and Michael B. Jordan starring. The impact of Fruitvale Station has stayed with me and I know that both would bring their skills and genius to this film. It is a beautiful film. It is a powerful film. It is a film that addresses more than just boxing. It is a film that addresses current context and puts Coogler as one of the most relevant filmmakers in the United States.

In an era of awakening for many white people in this country who can no longer avoid the racial inequity and injustice of our structures because black people have taken to the streets to demand change, this film not only provides an entrance into rewriting media's portrayal of young black men, but also a model for how white people can support those fighting for their lives.

Through Jordan, Coogler depicts a black leader. In a training scene where Jordan runs through the streets of Philadelphia with young men on dirt bikes, we see how important black leadership is in our communities. It is also the scene in one of the original Rocky movies, where Rocky ran up the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art and jumps up and down with his hands in the air. Creed does not run up the steps of a Eurocentric institution and celebrate alone, he runs with his people, with people often stereotyped and criminalized because of the color of their skin. And in this scene, we can see these young men as running parallel to him, as seeking the same, strength, success, freedom. They also look to do the impossible and in scenes depicting wheelies (and for anyone who lives in a city and has seen these young people ride in the streets) they are achieving the impossible, they are living in a moment of freedom that does not exist otherwise. The scene ends with all in a circle surrounding Creed fists in the air. He is a role model, he is needed, he is fighting for more than just himself.

Rocky in all this is Creed's Unk, or uncle. He supports Creed, works with him and becomes family. And this is one thing we white people can do – we can become family – in such a way that we fight injustice as if it were our own flesh and blood family members experiencing it. Racists structures cannot remain intact if we join the struggle to dismantle them, by support, by listening, by understanding the damage that structural racism continues to cause in communities of color. And in doing this, we will be able to live. Creed also becomes Rocky's family and supports Rocky in fighting cancer, carrying him when necessary, helping him fight to live. There is a very poignant parallel here if we consider what is in it for us, people who are white, in fighting for racial equity. We will also win. We will become more human. We will live.

A second white man in the film who does not support Creed until Creed has shown how well he fights is another model. A model of what will happen (what is happening now) if white people do not bother to understand race as it continues to impact communities of color. This man took a beating, gave respect after the beating and still won (our power structures have not shifted so far yet), but acknowledges the future. Creed is where we are going. Black people are fighting for their lives and they will win. Our youth in cities like Baltimore, Ferguson, Minneapolis, Chicago and others will fight and will win. They have no other choice. We can choose to support them or to stand in the way and end up bloody, possibly dead and in the end forced to acknowledge that they were right.

There is a legacy in the United States that we have inherited. There is a scene in the film where Rocky and Creed do climb up the stairs of the Philadelphia Museum of Art together. In this scene however no one is celebrating and the cameras are not panning to film the museum in all its glory. Instead, as viewers we look over Rocky and Creed's shoulders and Rocky comments that from up there you can see your whole life. If we choose to, as a country, we can climb the steps of our accomplishments and look back on how we got here. If we choose to do this, we will have to acknowledge a history of slavery, Jim Crow, redlining and the continued existence of unequal treatment under the law, unequal treatment that has remained rooted in race. Coogler does an amazing job weaving this into a film about a boxer. A film that had the entire theater shouting and clapping as if it were a live fight in front us. Maybe that is because it is.

Go see Creed. Fight for justice. Put your fists up. Make sure that everyone is family and that we are fighting for their lives as well as our own.