Black History Month: Some of My Favourite Black Stories
The past 12 months have made all of us come head to head with the issues of racism and intolerance that are deeply rooted in our society. Whilst the celebration of black talent does little by way of fixing that, honouring these stories is a reminder that experiential representation within media is important. I won’t be numbering or rating these. Just trust that these have all got the rewatchable factor that lets you explore the different layers to each story.
Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (Netflix)
In Chadwick Boseman’s last film, he plays Levee Green, a member of the titular legend’s band. Ma Rainey explores a racial power-imbalance that we still see today, yet in much more conspicuous ways. Through this all, though, Davis’s and Boseman’s performances are made with such gravitas and confidence that they perfectly explore a fateful day in Chicago in no more time than is absolutely necessary.
Whilst you may watch this and think this has nothing to do with race, Soul captures a glimpse in the life (and death) of a black man named Joe (Jamie Foxx). Soul music is his passion and is something so central to his character; the scene in the barber shop is just fantastic.
Get Out (Not Streaming)
You’ve probably seen Get Out already, but I couldn’t not mention it. Starring Daniel Kaluuya, Jordan Peele’s directorial debut is about a black man and his white girlfriend on a trip to the latter’s parents’ home. What follows is the stuff of horror movies, literally, as the film paints a pastiche of white-liberalism and progressive tendencies, all the while reclaiming the horror movie tropes that we’ve all grown accustomed to.
Us (HBO Max/Now TV)
In his second movie, Jordan Peele digs a little deeper at the auxiliary effects of racism in Us. The movie doesn’t try to necessarily contrast races as explicitly as Get Out, what it instead does is look at issues such as classism and materialism, extant relics of colonialism. Stunning performances from Lupita Nyong’o make this movie worth rewatching again and again.
Black Panther (Disney+)
In Chadwick Boseman’s career-defining role, he embodies the role of T’Challa, a character who has historically meant so much for black people everywhere. The first ever black-led Marvel movie, Black Panther isn’t afraid to create a villain whose motivations are justifiable in both the context of the film and the real world. Its reach has no doubt made many people question the version of history they’re taught.
BlacKkKlansman (Not Streaming)
As JDW’s breakout role, Spike Lee’s BlacKkKlansman tells the true story of Ron Stallworth, a black police officer who infiltrated the KKK by using his white colleague as a stand-in. It is a wonderful, exciting and infuriating film about the Klan. The movie is political, and doesn’t treat racism as an issue of a time gone by.
Whilst this list is non-exhaustive, in that these are not the only black stories worth watching, these are some of my favourite ones.
Let me know what you think about these, or if you’d like to add any, in the comments or on Twitter (@StreamingBuffer).
Until then, happy streaming!
Cover image supplied by Houstonia Magazine.