It’s that time of year again. The time where influential figures and voices get their spotlight: Black History Month. Black History Month was launched by Dr. Carter G. Woodson. It is celebrated in countries such as the United States, Germany and The Netherlands. It was originally focused on reaching Black students in public schools.
It was started on February 7, 1926, as Negro History Week. It was officially recognized as Black History Month by President Gerald Ford in 1976.
When it comes to Black History Month, it is understood that many streaming platforms are trying to connect with their Black/African-American audiences. But as they try to connect with their targeted audiences, the films they choose are not very enlightening. The movies that consist of the ‘Celebrating Black Voices’ would be black-traumatic-based films such as ’12 Years A Slave’, ‘Fruitvale Station, or even ‘Selma.’
Most of the acclaimed films about “blackness” sensationally portray black suffering as if racism began with slavery and ended with the March on Washington, giving a false sense of resolution and closure. As much as these films give the community their history and information, the black community is entitled to watch and feel heart warmed and joy when it comes to films portraying the Black/African-American community.
Vanish Cunningham, a third-year Business Management major, has two movies that she truly loves and could watch at various times.
“I love B.A.P.S, also known as Black American Princesses and Norbit,” said Cunningham. “I genuinely love comedy, so those portions of movies are cool to me but overall, them being black movies that don’t solely focus on the struggles of black people is such a relief.”
“These films showcase us in a light of normal circumstances regardless of how our race is affecting society,” said Cunningham. “Those films are wholesome to black kids and adults because they need to know that the struggle for equality and other fair treatment is not the only aspect to define the course of their life.”
Movies like the Madea franchise and “Welcome Home Roscoe Jenkins” are relatable, funny and show our community that everything is not always a fight for our rights; it’s a balance of love and war. The importance of knowing that you can have fun and live a good life as a Black man or woman and not give your life struggle or trauma a passing glance every second of every day shows that some aspects of life need to be known more often.
Filmmakers focusing only on the negative produces nothing but a negative mindset. Positive reinforcement and representation are what our community needs most.
Second-year biology pre-med scholar Takyra Johnson mentions that her favorite non-traumatic black films are ‘Love Jones’ and ‘Love and Basketball.’ Johnson acknowledges that even though these movies or even the plot may be unrealistic, there are some aspects of the movie that play throughout the authenticity of real black love outside of films.
“Even though these plots may be impractical, it’s still nice to see black love portrayed throughout the big screen or the television screen,” said Johnson. “We are so used to seeing movies about slavery or the civil rights movement…it becomes unbearable to watch.”
“We had monarchs, diplomats. Entrepreneurs and more. Where are the films on those influential beings? Growing up, I would have loved to see how our people were as royalty and successful politicians. That’s what drives our people to be the best they can be and inform them that if we wanted to be the best, we could,” added Johnson.
Having non-traumatic black movies is an asset the Black and African-American community should be able to enjoy without feeling the constant weight and reminder of the difficulties the Black/African-American community had to go through 400+ years ago. The history of Black history began way before we were slaves and it will continue until this day and so on.