Film Evaluation: Black Is… Black Ain’t
The final film by Marlon Riggs, Black is…Black Ain't, is concerned with the state of the African American community. This film essentially asks the question, what does it mean to be black? The director and producer, Marlon Riggs, guides viewers along an “an up-front examination of racism, sexism, and homophobia within the black community itself. Bringing together personal stories, interviews, music, history, and performance, Black Is...Black Ain’t asks African Americans: What is black, black enough, or too black?”1 Unfortunately, the AIDS-stricken director died before the film was completed. This film operates as a kind of last will and testament for Marlon Riggs. “He bequeaths the idea that rigid notions of what is or is not black behavior, of who is or isn't black, need to be abandoned for the sake of strengthening the sense of community within the race.”2 The beginning of Black Is... Black Ain’t explores the meanings associated with word black. I was very surprised to discover how most black people didn’t prefer being called or labeled black. Everything associated with the word black leads to disgrace and fear. Hence, the word black made most feel less than. At this time, a code of silence existed amongst black people. Living in a society that might lynch a person for being black, it makes sense that celebrating your blackness was forbidden. This eventually leads to the emasculation and castration of the black male. Pre civil rights, most black males were viewed as laughing, singing, entertainers and servants. The men were considered weak, and the women were considered strong and unwomanly. Anything associated with looking black was considered bad. The film uses the example of white hair as the good hair and frizzy curl hair as the bad hair.
Post civil rights, out of centuries of emasculation, the black man needs to reclaim his power. Black people now embraced the word black as an act of self-empowerment....
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