I posted this article over on Clutch magazine, my “day job,” but it’s quite fitting for this space as well…
I was getting my daily Shadow & Act fix when I ran across an interesting question by Tambay. Although there have been several films about Africa, you rarely see films depicting African Americans traveling to Africa…and beyond.
We’ve seen quite a number of films about white Americans or white Europeans either already living in Africa, or visiting some African country, in search of something or someone – whether it’s salvation, redemption, inspiration, vacation, themselves, their spouses, children, friends, their dogs, cats, apes, whatever; and it’s rare that they’re villains, nor in positions of inferiority.
Also, those that are historically based usually involve white *settlers* (or remnants of colonialism) who come to see themselves as native to the land that their ancestors once occupied.
Aside from Shaft in Africa as Tambay mentioned, and Phat Girlz (of all things), there are very few films that show African Americans in the motherland. Why?
One glance at the travel articles published on Clutch and the people I’ve met through the Nomad*Ness Travel Tribe, and it’s clear that black folks do, in fact, travel. So far we have traveled to every inch of the globe and often take up our passports and head off on international jaunts. But aside from How Stella Got Her Groove Back, we rarely see ourselves traveling on screen.
To be fair, these days black folks rarely see ourselves doing much of anything positive on screen, so I’m not surprised. But wouldn’t it be nice to have our own Eat, Pray, Love?
Off the top of my head there are several books that could easily be turned into films about black folks seeing the world: Black Girl in Paris, Searching for Tina Turner, and Kinky Gazpacho. But still no films.
Do you know of any travel films featuring leading black characters? If so, share them!