Boys to Men: 5 Films Exploring Black Masculinity

In response to Black Lives Matter, I wanted to do a series of posts giving examples of Black people on screen that either play characters that can act as positive role models — or are in films with life lessons for the up and coming Black male youth.

Whilst many of the dominant figures I had growing up were women, my father and grandfathers in my life lived in a way that rejected stereotypes of Black men abandoning their children. They are still self-sacrificing individuals.

Photo by Nicola Fioravanti on Unsplash

Here are examples that challenge how society sees Black men —not as: thugs, killers, rapists, criminals a threat to all that is good in the world — but as human beings that do and enjoy the same things as white men; and sometimes, we don’t even have to talk about race to validate our existence in society.

The Unremembered: Britain’s Forgotten War Heroes (2019), Rt. Honourable David Lammy MP

Availability: All 4 (On Demand)

Moonlight (2017), Dir. Barry Jenkins

Availability: Amazon Prime (Rent)

Boyz n the Hood (1991), Dir. John Singleton

This idea that Black people are dumb runs back to the days of Old Hollywood with actors like Willie Best, where “Black inferiority” was entwined with “the lack of intellect” — which was also a concept used to justify The Slave Trade.

Moya Bailey coined the term ‘misogynoir’ in 2010

Availability: Netflix

To Sir, with Love (1967), Dir. James Clavell

To Sir, with Love 1967 (Columbia / Photofest)

Sidney Poitier is famous for playing positive, empowering roles and Mark Thackeray is also symbolic of what Black men can represent in popular media and memory, something that runs contrary to stereotypes of the “mental inferiority” of the Black race, especially Black men.

Availability: DVD, Amazon (Rent)

Fire in Babylon (2011), Dir. Stevan Riley

Availability: DVD, YouTube

In these films there’s a varied (tip-of-the-iceberg) look at Black masculinity, in which you can see so much love and dignity. I hope this next generation of Black boys are taught to love themselves as I was to, because Black (male) empowerment will always be seen as a threat to the white establishment.

Writer-Poet | Muses: Black and Mixed-Race histories, inequality, identity, arts et al| Race and Black History Educator | treventour.com | MA Student |