Quit Playin’: College Bound?…Black Movie Night

By Vincent L. Hall

“Let me tell you something. This here. Right Now. At this very moment; is all that matters to me. I love you and it’s urgent like a MotherTrucker.’” – Darius Lovehall, Love Jones

No, Darius Lovehall ain’t a cousin, but we sound a lot alike. Black movies and so many of the cultural depictions that trademark the genre sound, look and feel like Black people you live with. Let me widen my aperture. The conventional wisdom has always been that college-bound freshmen be exposed to classical literature and media. You wouldn’t send a child to a four-year university without introducing Charles Dickens, Robert Frost or Ernest Hemingway. Likewise, before you send Jamal or Jamilla to that HBCU, you need a series of Black movie nights to get your kids caught up.

My 14-year-old Hailee, like her older sisters Erinn and Alison, know my routine. It’s been a family practice to see any substantive Black movie on opening weekends. That’s how they gross millions or billions. And I don’t watch any movie or TV show that doesn’t have at least one black face in it… Never! You see Black folks on the big screens now because we fought for it!

For most of my formative years, “Jimmy,” the only Black guy, was killed before the opening credits ran. All classic movies have a smattering of memorable lines. If you don’t know the verbiage, you can get lost, left out or highly offended. For instance, if somebody shouted “Bye Felicia” and you had no previous knowledge of Ice Cube’s low budget blockbuster, Friday what would you think? “You got knocked the f@*& out” is as much a colloquialism as it is a statement of fact in many cases. “Come on, sit down and eat some cake, Anna Mae.” “All my life I had to fight. A girl child ain’t safe in a family of mens. But I ain’t never thought I’d have to fight in my own house!” These moments from What’s Love Got to Do With It and The Color Purple speak to the level of misogyny and toxic masculinity that you have to warn your ebony daughters about.

Father’s Day 2019 will render another in the Shaft sequels, but it’s important that you and your teenager go back in time and survey the Blaxploitation movies. They weren’t always prime examples of artsy cinematography, but they told a story. Curtis Mayfield’s line, “Freddie’s dead,” made me go see Superfly. And don’t worry, your teenager has heard worse language and seen more sex than you know!

Pamela Suzette Grier, my first and forever fantasy, made me go see Foxy Brown, Sheba Baby, Friday Foster, Greased Lightning… you get the picture. But in all of her tainted tales, she overcame racism, male dominance or both. Was she #BlackGirlMagic before it was cool? Watch and narrate Spike Lee’s School Daze, Do the Right Thing and Malcolm X. Lee was threatened with his life by Black folks who wanted Malcolm X, the movie, to be on point.

Butter that popcorn and relive the revelations of John Singleton. Boyz in the Hood, Higher Learning and Poetic Justice will prove that “staying woke” is just the newest hashtag. We been watching and catching hell from racists, with and without badges, since 1619. Teach them about love’s gives and takes. Love Jones is my fave, but Eddie Murphy played a king from Zamunda who traveled to Queens to find his Queen. Chris Rock plays a marginally-satisfied hubby in I Think I Love My Wife, and finally figured out that he did. Lee’s She’s Gotta Have It starred Nona Darling, who realized that it took the attributes of three men to give her what she needed in one. Send the microwave, iron and ironing board, toiletries and all essentials with your child as they dash to the dorms. But HBCU or not, promise me you’ll have Black movie nights to assimilate your child to the culture that awaits them.

And yes, White kids need it too!!!