Let's Finally Address the Claim That the "Majority" of American Films Starring Black Actors are Slave Narratives...
Photo Credit: S & A

Let's Finally Address the Claim That the "Majority" of American Films Starring Black Actors are Slave Narratives...



In response to my piece challenging the call to boycott the broadcast of History channel’s remake of “Roots,” which premiered last night (read that article here if you haven’t), I received several emails, read a lot of comments on this blog, as well as on Facebook and Twitter, and even argued with a few folks, all making the claim, in one way or another, that the vast majority of films starring black actors that have been financed, produced, and/or released by film studios/companies here in the USA in recent years, have centered around slavery.

“When is Hollywood going to tell stories about black people that aren’t about slavery?” was a common question asked, followed with, “All we ever get are movies about slavery. This is BS! I’m tired of this. I’m not watching ‘Roots!'”

Or some variation of that… as Snoop Dogg, who shared a video on his Instagram page yesterday, said in an expletive-filled rant, “I’m sick of this… They just going to keep beating that sh*t into our heads as to how they did us, huh?”

There was more than that, but you get the picture. It was headline news, as many media outlets picked it up (I did as well, and commented on it in the piece I referenced earlier here).

I replied to a few of the folks who challenged my argument (more like my facts) that the “majority” of films backed by Hollywood (or American film companies) in one way or another, that star black actors, have, in fact, NOT had anything whatsoever to do with the slave trade. My response was to essentially do the work, and find out for themselves, confirming or denying their perceptions; because, as I said before, perception is not reality. Just because you think something is the case doesn’t make it so. If I may, in jest, #BlackFactsMatter!

A few argued that the burden of proof was on me (some even said I was being lazy) – meaning, I should do the work for them, and prove them wrong. Maybe they weren’t expecting me to do so, but, I did!

So I’ll just drop this list of films, going back 10 years (a full decade), which include every film released theatrically in the USA (no matter how limited the release was), that starred black actors, for every year since 2006. Now take a look, and tell me again about how the vast majority of movies that star black actors are always set in the slavery era, or are focused specifically on that subject. I’ve gotten you this far… surely you can do the rest…

The fact that I actually had to do this is a mystery to me. This is something that should be evident for anyone who’s seen more than a couple of films each year, and not require much research to prove correct. Alas… I did the work.

There are a number of things you can deduce and argue about black representation in cinema, based on this long list of films released since 2006; but the “mostly about slavery” claim is not one of them. And I can go back further than 10 years (I actually have) and the argument still would have no merit.

To be clear, I’m not “defending” the American studio system (or even the minis/indies). I’m one of the more critical voices of the studio system as I think those who’ve read this blog over the years would know well. Hollywood is certainly guilty of many things, especially when it comes to the lack of variety and volume in terms of the stories it chooses to tell about people of color and women (I broke this down in my article yesterday); but just be sure that you’re fighting the right battles, and that you’re well supported in your calls for action.

In closing, I’ll ask this question of those folks who challenged me on this: how many of the films listed here did you actually see and support? Especially those smaller indie and non-American films, and documentaries, that could’ve really used your dollars, or even just your shout-outs on social media.


The Pursuit of Happyness

Big Momma’s House 2

Déjà Vu

Tyler Perry’s Madea’s Family Reunion

Waist Deep


Akeelah and the Bee

The Last King of Scotland


Dave Chappelle’s Block Party

Phat Girlz


Kinky Boots

Steve Harvey’s Don’t Trip…He Ain’t Through with Me Yet!

Black Gold

Been Rich All My Life

Favela Rising

Masai: The Rain Warriors

Herbie Hancock: Possiblities

The Empire in Africa


I am Legend



Tyler Perry’s Why Did I Get Married

Are We There Yet?

Tyler Perry’s Daddy’s Little Girls

The Great Debaters

I Think I Love My Wife

Talk To Me

A Man Named Pearl

The Salon


Darfur Now

Snoop Dogg’s Hood of Horror

Dirty Laundry





Seven Pounds

College Road Trip

Welcome Home Roscoe Jenkins

Tyler Perry’s Meet The Browns

Lakeview Terrace

First Sunday

The Secret Life of Bees

Tyler Perry’s The Family That Preys

Soul Men

Meet Dave

The Express

Cadillac Records

Miracle at St. Anna


Noah’s Arc: Jumping the Broom

Trouble the Water



The Princess and the Frog

Tyler Perry’s Madea Goes To Jail

Michael Jackson’s This is It


The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3

Tyler Perry’s I Can Do Bad All By Myself



Not Easily Broken

Next Day Air

Good Hair



American Violet

The Limits of Control

Black Dynamite

Soul Power

35 Shots of Rum

Youssou N’Dour: I Bring What I Love

Medicine For Melancholy



Confessionsofa Ex-Doofus-ItchyFooted Mutha


The Karate Kid

The Book of Eli

Why Did I Get Married Too?


Death at a Funeral

For Colored Girls

Just Wright

Our Family Wedding

Night Catches Us



The Help

Tyler Perry’s Big Happy Family

Big Mammas: Like Father Like Son

Jumping the Broom


Kevin Hart: Laugh At My Pain

Beats, Rhymes & Life: The Travels of a Tribe Called Quest

Attack The Block



The First Grader

Being Elmo: A puppeteer’s Journey

The Interrupters

The Black Power Mixtape

Gun Hill Road

Thunder Soul

I Will Follow

Life, Above All

35 and Ticking

Rejoice & Shout

Viva Riva!

Crime After Crime


Brenda Bilili!

Frankie & Alice

A Screaming Man


Joyful Noise


Brooklyn Castle

Django Unchained


Think Like A Man

Tyler Perry’s Madea’s Witness Protection

Red Tails

Tyler Perry’s Good Deeds

Alex Cross

A Thousand Words

The Man with the Iron Fists

Beasts of the Southern Wild

Woman Thou Art Loosed: On The 7th Day



Chico & Rita

Red Hook Summer

The Central Park Five

Something From Nothing: The Art of Rap

Middle of Nowhere

Wuthering Heights

Deitrick Haddon’s A Beautiful Soul

Ballplayer: Pelotero


Dysfunctional Friends

Dreams of a Life

Restless City

The Last Fall

Booker’s Place: A Mississippi Story



12 Years a Slave

20 Feet from Stardom

A Band Called Death

A Haunted House

After Earth

American Promise

An Oversimplification of Her Beauty

Baggage Claim

Better Mus’ Come

Big Words

Black Nativity

Blue Caprice

Call Me Kuchu

Fire in the Blood

Free Angela and All Political Prisoners

Fruitvale Station

Gimme the Loot

Go For Sisters

God Loves Uganda

Holla II

I’m In Love With a Church Girl

Jamel Shabazz Street Photographer

Kevin Hart: Let Me Explain

La Playa D.C.

La Pirogue

Lee Daniels’ The Butler

Let the Fire Burn


Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom

Mother of George

Mumia: Long Distance Revolutionary


The Best Man Holiday

The Call

The Inevitable Defeat of Mister and Pete

The Iran Job

The Square

The Trials of Muhammad Ali

The We and the I

Tyler Perry Presents Peeples

Tyler Perry’s A Madea Christmas

Tyler Perry’s Temptation: Confessions of a Marriage Counselor

Una Noche

Venus and Serena

War Witch

Welcome to Pine Hill

Winnie Mandela


Ride Along

The Equalizer

Think Like a Man Too

No Good Deed


About Last Night

Get On Up


Tyler Perry’s The Single Moms Club


Dear White People


Frankie & Alice

Jimi: All Is By My Side


NAS: Time is Illmatic

Finding Fela

12 O’Clock Boys

Through a Lens Darkly

Half of a Yellow Sun

The Retrieval

Horses of God

On the Other Side of the Tracks

I Am Ali

Flex is Kings

Death Metal Angola

Evolution of a Criminal



Straight Outta Compton

San Andreas


War Room

The Perfect Guy






Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution

Brotherly Love


The Man in 3B

Carter High

Chocolate City


A Ballerina’s Tale

Beasts of No Nation




Lila & Eve

3 1/2 Minutes, 10 Bullets

Rubble Kings

Horse Money


Black November

Salvation Army





Out of My Hand

Call Me King

My Friend Victoria

Five Star


Shadow and Act is a website dedicated to cinema, television and web content of Africa and its global Diaspora. With daily news, interviews, in-depth investigations into the audiovisual industry, and more, Shadow and Act promotes content created by and about people of African descent throughout the world.

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