Four films and TV series that celebrate Black stories

You won’t find any white saviour narratives here

These stories are made by Black writers, producers, directors, and actors. Image: Sara Wong / The Peak

By: Jaymee Salisi, News Writer

Black stories are beautiful, in both their excellence and normalcy. Yet, Hollywood has a history of wedging white saviours into Black stories. Movies such as The Help and The Blind Side, specifically, have been criticized for doing so. In these stories, minorities are not given proper humanity, and credit is often given where it is not due. 

Additionally, many representations of Black history are overwhelmingly centred around Black trauma, such as graphic enslavement or depictions of brutality against Black people. Although such stories may be meant to educate other groups, they might also be triggering and harmful to Black people. 

Black stories should not need to have whiteness at its core or present a traumatic narrative in order to be worth telling. Their stories deserve to be told in celebration of the people that they’re about, as they are. In no specific order, here is a non-exhaustive list of films and tv series that do just that.

Insecure

This series touches on everything from relationship problems and career struggles, to online dating and gossip. The main characters, Issa and Molly, kill it every episode with their outfits. But as you start to find out more about Issa’s financial situation, you start to wonder how she’s able to afford such an expensive sense of style . . . I’m not mad at it though. And the soundtrack filled with the best of The Internet, Leikeli47, GoldLink, SZA, and many more, keeps you vibing without fail.

Moonlight

Set in the 1980s, this film focuses on the story of a man growing up Black, gay, and poor during the crack epidemic. The plot is presented in a simple way, but it is a complex and dynamic story delivered with beautiful vulnerability. The Oscar-winning film explores three distinct stages in the main character, Chiron’s, life. Throughout these stages, we see the struggles that Chiron faces growing up, as well as the anger and consequences that these experiences manifest.

Self Made: Inspired by the Life of Madam C.J. Walker

This four part Netflix series, starring Octavia Spencer, tells the story of the first female self-made millionaire in America. The writers do not claim complete historical accuracy to Madam C.J. Walker’s real life, but we follow her character’s journey as she starts a company selling hair growth products to African-American women. The series also explores colourism’s impacts and celebrates Blackness independently.

Cinderella (1997)

Rodgers and Hammerstein’s version of Cinderella includes an interracial cast, with Brandy, Whoopi Goldberg, and Whitney Houston. Impacting the lives of many young people who resonate with the representation in the story, this film intentionally celebrates Black people and people of colour in the classic fairytale.