I'm so extra.

It's been one of those years where you just have to lean on what you know.

Streaming services are starting to highlight a variety of Black films to watch if you’d like to understand our struggle. Selma (2014), Just Mercy (2019), Hidden Figures (2016), The Help (2011), The 13th (2016), The Hate U Give (2018), and other similar movies are all being promoted and streamed for free on many platforms. This is great, and I’m glad more films with a Black lead/cast are being pushed to mass audiences, but at the same time, I am frustrated!

As a Black person, I don’t always want to watch movies like Harriet (2019), 12 Years a Slave (2013), Birth of a Nation (2016), and I Am Not Your Negro (2016). While these movies were made about us, I’d argue they were not made for us. These are not FUBU films, and while they do have their own place in the film canon, there is more to our story than our struggle.
When I sit down to watch a movie for date night, or for girls night, or for a night in with my family, I’m not turning on something that will remind me of my ancestors’ pain; I have enough reminders of that in my regular life. Instead, I’m choosing to watch something that tells parts of our story that rarely get shown to mainstream audiences, because if there’s an all black cast, the marketing is always tailored to black audiences, because themes like love, pain, fear, and the like can’t possibly be universal. Right?
One thing white people have probably never experienced is going to see a movie specifically because the cast features people who look like you (whether the plot looks appealing or not). This is a unique part of the minority experience in America that I have come to recognize in recent years.

So today, I’m sharing a list of Black films that do not focus on our existence in relation to white people, but ones that feature us in regular, non-racial scenarios... because we have those too! While general audiences were praising movies like How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days (2003) and Love Actually (2003), we (Black people) we’re watching those but also enjoying goodies like Deliver Us from Eva (2003) and The Preacher’s Wife (1996). I grew up loving Clueless and House Party. Get you a girl (or guy) who can do both. We love a well-rounded viewer.

This list is not comprehensive, but I tried to include a variety of options from different decades. Most are from the 90s though, since this when many of my favorites were released, and I only want to include films I personally love and cherish. Are movies like Shaft (1971) and A Raisin in the Sun (1961) classics? Yes, of course! But they're not personal favorites. The more well-known Black films like The Nutty Professor (1996), Good Burger (1997), Coming to America (1988), etc. were excluded. I also omitted movies where a black lead was paired with a white lead (i.e. Men in Black (1997), Training Day (2001), Shawshank Redemption (1994), etc.) Those are important, too (Money Talks (1997) is one of my all-time favorite comedies), but I find the presence of white main character usually makes the movie more “palatable” for non-Black audiences, and that’s not the purpose of this list.


Rom Coms


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