Black Movies. Where are they?

Holiday season in my family means a few things. One of those things is watching black movies. And not just curling up on the couch to watch a movie. Getting out of the house and driving to the theater, probably the black theater, to watch the new black movie.

Thanksgiving 1997. We went to the black theater in Birmingham, Alabama. There was a decision to make. See Eve’s Bayou or Soul Food. We choose Soul Food. Ahhh the options.

Thanksgiving 2018. Birmingham, Alabama. We had one option. Creed II. Although the movie was amazing, it is not quite the black movie that I grew up knowing.

img_6128House Party. The Wood. Waiting to Exhale. Love Jones. Harlem Nights. Coming to America. A Thin Line Between Love and Hate. The Wiz. Boomerang. The Five Heartbeats. The Preachers Wife. Above the Rim. New Jack City. Devil in a Blue Dress. Sugar Hill. Juice. Woo. The Inkwell. Boomerang. How Stella Got Her Groove Back. 

These are what I consider Good Black Movies. They lived between the 80’s and early 00’s.

There are good black movies that have graced theaters since then, but it’s different. And typically it is in one of these categories.

The slave movie

Django Unchained. 12 Years a Slave. The Birth of a Nation. 

I stopped watching slave movies after Django. I am a huge black history buff. I think it is important to tell the story of how black people have suffered. But there is more to our history and culture than what White Americans & Europeans did to us. 

Biopics

42. Hidden Figures. Selma. 

All really great movies. After watching these films in the theater, I felt empowered. Proud to be black. Proud to know how far we have come. How we have impacted history in sports, science and social justice.

But what about our every day stories. The story about the black family or the black love story. Can’t we have both? Like when Denzel Washington starred in Mo’ Betta Blues and Malcolm X.

The comedy

Night School. White Chicks. Central Intelligence. Madea.

These are more like black-led movies. But if you type into Google “recent black comedies” these among others show up. You see a lot of Kevin Hart. 

Everyone loves a good laugh, but why do we have to be the token black character. Or dress up as a woman or a white chick for the movie to be funny. 

I remember when actors could do it all. Typecasting wasn’t as frequent. Jada Pinkett could be Peaches in one movie and then play Lyric in another. If you don’t know those movies by her character name, then shame on you! 

The one you forgot

The Hate U Give. If Beale Street Could Talk. Monsters And Men.

Amazing movies. But how many times does the new black movie slip your mind. Next thing you know it is on-demand and out of the theaters and you forget to watch it. 

But yet again, these newly released movies are about social justice in America. Not the story of  four black men who call themselves “The Brothers”. Following their career, love and life journeys. 


We need all those movies. The funny. The history. The Biographies. The ones we forget to see. But we also need to see more movies like Love & Basketball, Two Can Play That Game and Poetic Justice. 

Movies that show what it is like to grow up as a black kid in the city – Crooklyn and Cooley High. Movies that mimic black college life – School Daze or Drumline. Even movies like Belly, Dead Presidents and Set it Off had underlying messages for us. 

There use to be new movies every few months that had a majority black cast. Now we are lucky to have 1-2 major movies a year that is centered around black culture.  

We have soared since the 80’s and 90’s. We are winning Oscars and Golden Globes. Screenwriting and directing major motion films. Starring in films that would typically have an all white cast. We have come far. 

But ask anyone over 25, what their favorite black movie is. Guaranteed they are going mention a movie that was made between 1985 – 2005. 


Do you agree with me? What is your favorite black movie? Share your comment below.  

~ JY 

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