With the Help of Hollywood We’ll Define Ourselves

by on August 18, 2023 · 0 comments

in From the Soul

by Ernie McCray

I see the movie industry
as a huge answer to
the way our society
defines Black people
so negatively
because Hollywood is a master
when it comes to painting an image
of a people,
as I remember growing up
watching many a movie
that made the world seem
with a range of characters
on the silver screen
ranging from
ordinary human beings to
pillars of society and kings and queens
but often when a Black character appeared on the scene
they were
and yes-ma’am-ing
and bowing and kowtowing
and grinning
to beat the band,
mightily reduced as human beings,
and gradually, over time,
we got to see
a Black actor
give life to a troubled inner city school kid,
and go on to play a cop
named Mister Tibbs,
and a Black actress
gave strong African American women
in Black History
their due,
and the musical, “Carmen Jones,”
verified Black sexiness
to the bone
but our dramas still needed
more meat on the bones,
and blaxploitation flicks
came along
with characters easy-on-the-eye like
Shaft, one suave manly private eye,
and a hip flamboyant cocaine dealer
called Superfly,
and Foxy Brown,
taking White gangsters down,
fun to watch but heavy on
thug life
and mean streets
leaving descendants of Africa
still narrowed down
to a few caricatures of ourselves
when there are so many layers to
who we are
and who we are,
today in filmdom,
is being fleshed out more fully
than in the years gone by
as we’ve been seen in the cinema,
relatively recently,
among other facets of our humanity,
as space engineers
and spelling champs
and debaters
and infiltrators of the KKK…
and one Super Hero comic-book-like-screen play
featuring Black thespians
happens to be one of the highest grossing movies
ever made,
one that has inspired younger generations of Black folks
to think of themselves grandly,
to fantasize and think creatively,
in a spirit of “Wakanda Forever,
with open minds about
human possibilities,
to dream big dreams,
to stand tall with Black Pride.

Oh, the more tinsel town,
with its power to define
shines a light on Black life,
the more truths
will come to light
and those who try to put us in a box
of their liking,
like the powers-that-be
that try to alter Black History,
will be left by the wayside
as we
will define ourselves.

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