Black Girls & Coming-of-Age Films

Arielle Loren, Clutch Magazine | June 17, 2011

Growing up, I remember the impact of black girl films on my budding personhood. There was: Just Another Girl on the I.R.T. (1992)Crooklyn (1994)Our Song (2000)What About Your Friends: Weekend Get-Away (2002), amongst a few others. While it did feel rare to see our faces on film, the lack didn’t instill a feeling of desperation since black girls were on television quite frequently in the 1990s to early 2000s. Coupled with The Cosby ShowFamily MattersThe Parent ‘Hood, and Moesha, our films and television programming reflected the multiple realities of black girls across the nation.

A decade or so later, I watch my 13-year-old sister sift through contemporary black girl coming-of-age films and TV shows to find her reflection. While admittedly contemporary black family sitcoms have taken a backseat, she did experience That’s So Raven during her early years and now she has True Jackson VP as a reference to prove that young black girls can run the world (at least on TV). In terms of film, on the cusp of her tenth birthday, she had Akeelah and the Bee to remind her that she’s smart and capable of anything. And when she needed a dose of multicultural girl power, The Cheetah Girls movie and subsequent franchise had her singing for days, much like my experience of the Spice Girls. On a more serious note, she faced a fictional version of black girl poverty and pregnancy with Precious, in the same way that I experienced Our Song minus the sisterhood. And soon, she’ll have Pariah as a reference for black girls loving other black girls. I regret that my mind draws blank when attempting to name a black lesbian coming-of-age film during my childhood.  (Read more)