Earlier in 2017, we were blessed with what has been considered one of the best films of the year, Get Out. With its relatable protagonist Chris and prevalent racial connotations, it had viewers on the edge of their seats as the plot that unfolded, while entertaining, hit very close to home with the experiences of black moviegoers. In the wake of our nation facing spikes in police brutality and systematic racism still rising, it was important for this movie to be able to express these familiarities with those who don’t directly identify with Chris or the other black characters of the film and not be deemed just another “black movie”. Fast forward to July and we have another astounding movie pushing its way to the front in Hollywood.
Girls Trip starring Regina Hall, Jada Pinkett Smith, Queen Latifah, and scene-stealer Tiffany Haddish premiered last week raking in $31 million in its first weekend. Following four college friends as they reunite for a trip to the Essence Festival in New Orleans, the film takes us on their adventure of a black woman’s take on sexuality, self-confidence, independence, friendship, and ambition. It’s an empowering film that has truly made strides for African-American women in the film industry as they have in the past been used as stepping-stones and comic relief for predominantly white characters.
There is a wide range of personality in the main cast, tearing down the stereotypes of subjecting every black woman to being uneducated and oversexualized. They all are career-driven, family oriented, and exuded self-confidence which, quite frankly, we don’t see enough of from black female characters in the film industry. We are constantly fed the degrading tropes of African-American women being exploited for their physical features or their stereotypical personalities. How many times have we seen the loud, ghetto, neck-rolling black girl boosting up a white character? It’s not about dismantling that personality type of others like it because that is the reality of the nature of some, but in the film for example, the character can stand on her own with depth and purpose instead of only being the eccentric butt of a joke. How many times do we see black woman deemed as overly sexual and loose with their morals? Here they are depicted as grown women with normal sex drives that take pride in their sexuality, a concept used to demean women especially women of color despite healthy sexuality being a common part of life.
These women proved to be proud of who they are in their own skin and it speaks volumes to women and girls out there who have only seen those who look like them in a predominantly negative light for years in the entertainment industry. Representation is imperative to moving forward as a society. When a little black girl only sees black females as the harmful stereotypes that have been portrayed countless times in film, that’s all she will see herself as and it stunts her drive to become something more. Seeing black women as CEO’s, engineers, chefs, lawyers, chemists, and doctors opens so many doors for little black girls to grow into successful women who love themselves for who they are and are unapologetic of their motivation to achieve greatness in a world that is constantly rooting against them. Hollywood has a long way to go before we see even close to equal representation in the media across the board, but this film goes to show that we are living in an increasingly progressive society that not only accepts black woman, but praises them for their individuality, soaring ambition, and love for themselves.