“Everything I learned, I learned from the movies,”a famous quote by Audrey Hepburn that means something completely different to Black people everywhere.
From the portrayal of Black characters in film over the last century, we’ve learned that we are the maid, the whore, the slave, the felon, the side chick, the side kick and every other role except the positive lead or hero. While the matter seems trivial to the other colors of America, seeing one’s self on the big screen is important to cultural health and emotional well-being.
Watching movies is about fulfilling a fantasy and thanks to a micro-group of cinematic geniuses, from your reclining chair you can find melanin in a romantic sex scene or in Cinderella looking stunning at the ball – and not just being the master’s slave or a violent gang banger. To remind us of how amazing Black people are in real life and on screen, and to fulfill the fantasy of viewers who need to be educated of such, we’ve reeled in a list of movies every Black millennial should see.
1. Love Jones
Black love is so real. I’m still looking for my Darius Lovehall, the Renaissance man that played the thought-stimulating and sexy co-star to the intriguing, creative, and freestyler of love, Nina Mosely.
Love Jones peeled back the complex layers of Black love, highlighting that Black women and men still desire that heart racing, can’t get enough, kissing in the rain kind of romance and aren’t afraid to break up to make up, so they can find it again.
The movie also shows the origination of culture for Black people. Not only are we the creators of jazz and blues, we’ve made art from the rhythm of our voices through poetry and spoken word and use our eagle’s eye to capture the perfect picture through photography. If you have ever experienced the heartache of being with the wrong guy, experiencing the right guy and becoming confused about finding and holding on to who you are in the midst ladies, then Love Jones is on the way to the rescue.
Society tends to discredit mental health issues in the Black community and the movie Precious discusses the topic from top to bottom.
A Black teen overcomes self-hatred, emotional abandonment by a parent, parental rape, abuse, depression, and bottom of the barrel self-confusion. This movie shines a light on the enhanced psychological warfare of Black teen-aged girls and the help that is needed, but hardly ever sought.
Black people experience issues that affect their mental state and often are in need of professional help, but are unable or unwilling to receive the help when it is available. Precious is a testament to those who suffer with and survive through the demise of the mind and emotional state of generations of the past and future. Precious also illustrates that people in these situations, are not alone. The movie is adapted from the book Push by Sapphire, which is worthy of a read if you can bare it.
3. Soul Food
Now, if you’ve never had a “Big Mama”, then you dare to understand. There’s nothing stronger than Black family ties and the bond between family, no matter how close or far away they may be located. Soul Food detailed the strength of family and the role of the matriarch, who against all odds, found its way back to the root of it all.
Soul Food creates a sense of belonging and connection, even when one was no longer a part of the family. In the Black community, valuable nuggets of knowledge are incorporated into new generations that we still remember even until today i.e., don’t ever put a towel on the stove (you might burn the house down) or that family always takes care of family despite past transgressions.
Little drops of truth get passed to us every time we talk to our “big mamas”, and it’s intriguing to realize that she is the cornerstone to the family we now know. The matriarch, rarely acknowledged for her divine power of mother earth, disperses everything she’s gained over her lifetime. Like the roots of a tree, she has pushed out a stump overgrown with massive branches,winding vines, reaching leaves, and a populous of flowers that makes the family blossom. If you’ve never belonged, it’s only because you have not yet connected with family, it is forever.
4. The Best Man
The question, “Is he really the best man?” A simple forehead kiss that offers eroticism that would call any friendship into question. The Best Man exudes the simplicity of betrayal and the complexity of forgiveness within a long-term friendship, leaving one feeling a whirlwind of emotions by the time the credits roll. The close-knit group of friends went to college together then grew apart in search of successful careers.
Following a very realistic story line of their post college days, the film shows a not often seen perspective of a Black man’s life. The Best Man shows unabashed sexual chemistry between friends that takes over the rational thought process of who they were, are, and are now becoming. With the power of Black money, success, blessings, and marriage, perhaps it is revealed whom the best man really is. Say “I Do” to this one.
This list is not exhaustive, but will definitely set you on the path to watching some of the best Black movies made in recent history. What would you add to the list?