There is an ongoing conversation within the Black communities about representation. We need to see us. Include us. That sentiment is across the board but often expressed in the entertainment industry. One of the main reasons aside from talented and qualified actors being able to work is that when people see themselves they have better self esteem, more ambition, and pride in general.
Over the years we have seen many more Black people in roles and getting paid a little bit better, and making a difference on the culture and the world at large. However, I’ve seen a few folks express frustration with what we are being presented with. The struggle film. Precious, 13 Years A Slave, any movie or television show wrongfully accused, convicted, or otherwise treated badly because of their race or the system based on race.
These shows are presenting opportunity and visibility and often awareness that some may be uneducated about. At the same time it is showing only the sad and depressing side of a whole entire culture. White people are able to have programs that show the differences of class, experience, location, and so on. So now people are tired of being slaves and prisoners.
I believe that both and are necessary in change. There have been a few movies or television shows I’ve skipped because I didn’t think it would add enough to my life for me to watch. However, I do believe it’s valuable to be able to direct a friend to a show to get a little bit of an understanding.
Now Netflix is my jam, it is one of my main streaming services. I’ve curated such a full algorithm of foolery and inspiration. Nailed it with Nicole Byer is one of my favorites along with teen angst and documentaries. Recently, Netflix has recommended African made movies and series. Like the devoted algorithm follower I am I clicked and added a few of them to my list.
When it’s a slow not really much I want to watch day, I’ll pick the unfamiliar African made show. As I was watching the latest movie Just In Time set in Nairobi I realized this is exactly what people are asking for. Black people living life. The struggle had nothing to do with race or class, it was about love. Love in friendship, in family, and romantically. The issues brought up were the same as any Jennifer Aniston or Jennifer Gardner movie.
The settings extras in the movie were Black Africans as wait staff at a restaurant and patrons at a bookstore. No one looking at another in suspicion of them doing or being something bad. What I realized in watching that movie was I don’t often see Black people being themselves especially in the United States but in some places it seems like a natural thing. The writer of the movie didn’t force the issues of being Black and having a job and so on. They just were.
There is hope in seeing who we are as people, like just humans. Being. Although the struggle is a part of our history and important to know and honor, we all need to know we exist outside or in spite of the struggle. So the more the African market leads that, maybe it’ll connect in the rest of our minds and the rest of us will make entertainment in line.