2021 brings Black voices to headlines

By Raina Kutliroff, Staff Writer

Black representation in the media is a topic that activists and critics are talking about more and more.

For many, 2021 was an optimistic year for Black representation in popular culture.

Starting the year off, the country’s first ever biracial vice president was inaugurated, and Kamala Harris acknowledged the responsibility she had representing biracial and minority communities. 

To kick off the inauguration, Black poet Amanda Gorman stunned the world with “The Hill We Climb,” an original poem.

Her poem made such an impact on the world that schools around the country began teaching and analyzing her poem. Gorman uses themes of racism, sexism and other forms of prejudice to inspire her writing and social justice work.

“Judas and the Black Messiah,” a long-awaited and highly-rated film, stars Black actors such as Daniel Kaluuya, LaKeith Stanfield and Dominique Fishback in the biographical crime drama about the Black Panther Party in the ‘60s.

This film of love and betrayal addresses topics like Black power and police brutality and aims to educate the public. Director Shaka King said his passion for creating a film that challenges the struggles of being Black inspired him to create his first Hollywood film.

Eddie Murphy and the cast of “Coming to America” excited fans of with cult classic film, which had the announced over 30 years after the original film.

“Coming 2 America,” released in March, featured a nearly all-Black cast, pushing the boundaries of Black representation in films. The franchise shows fans the power of Black excellence in film, critics said. 

The incredible story of Richard Williams, Serena and Venus Williams’ father, is told in the biographical drama “King Richard” starring Will Smith.

Smith portrays a man determined to have his daughters own the tennis world, allowing nothing to slow him down. At the center of this film is a Black father who is tough yet emotional, a struggle that society has unfortunately drilled into Black male stereotypes. The talented Black cast of “King Richard” and the production that goes into breaking stereotypes is worth the celebration.

Starring Idris Elba and “Stranger Things” star Caleb McLaughlin, the film “Concrete Cowboy” tells the story of the horse riders of North Philadelphia based on the YA novel “Ghetto Cowboy.” The drama shares the often untold story of the Black cowboys.

Their story is typically not mentioned when learning American history but is actually a large part of the country’s history, as the idea of an “urban cowboy” has been around for over a hundred years, starting in Northern Philadelphia. Although the film is fictional, there are some strong themes that remind viewers of the rich Black history in America.

America has made progress toward celebrating Black culture, but activists remind us that there is still a ways to go.

While celebrating Black History Month, remember the words of Amanda Gorman: “Because being American is more than a pride we inherit — It’s the past we step into and how we repair it.”

 

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