I am going to explore the social/political context of racial oppression/tensions in African-American films. My main focus will be centred around police brutality, black neighbourhoods (touching on gentrification and the tensions in those neighbourhoods which are more multi-cultural) and the tensions between black and white people in general as strangers/workers/friends/romantic partners etc. [I would also like to touch on white privilege and systematic racism in (specifically) America as a whole].
The films in which these topics are most prominent are Spike Lee’s ‘Do The Right Thing’ and Jon Singleton’s ‘Boyz N The Hood’. Originally I intended on including ‘American History X’ as it tackles white supremacy and neo-fascism, but it is itself considered to be a rather problematic film, due to its director and writer being white as well as the film itself to be considered racist. See source cited below:
American History X: A Racist Film About Racism – Unsung Films. 2015. American History X: A Racist Film About Racism – Unsung Films. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.unsungfilms.com/5419/american-history-x-a-racist-film-about-racism/. [Accessed 09 July 2015].
It seems much more appropriate for these films not only to target race issues, but to come from the oppressed rather than the oppressor (no matter how important it is to see ‘both sides’ to the issues). Because of this my focus films need to be strictly African-American cinema; so I have rejected ‘American History X’ as a focus film. Two films however is not enough and I shall now look at attempting to find more that fit this new criteria I have set myself. I will look at more of Spike Lee’s work and other influential/important African-American filmmakers to broaden the amount of films to use.
NOTE: I realise I have not set a particular era/time period to focus on. This may well change depending on the films I find, but also may not as racism is not something that is in the past and still affects people of colour today – especially in the United States.