BEING BLACK ENOUGH is profound, but not enough
What does being black in the United States of America, mean? Is it a dialect, racial percentage, culture, frame of mind? Some see being black as a monolithic grouping system, which is unyielding. Either ‘with us’ or ‘against us’ mentality, those who aren’t with us…. aren’t truly black. There are quite a few articles on the subject with various voices shouting to be heard. It can be disheartening when someone tells you that you’re not black enough (no matter what race that person is) or that you’re trying to deny your blackness in favor of appeasing the majority.
The film Being Black Enough attempts to attack this notion that there is but one way to actually be black, with humor. Cody (Devin Ride) realizes he wants to be more black so he turns to his cousin Kyle. The overall theme of this film is to show how suffocating and detrimental stereotypes can be. In cooperating gang violence, guns, strip clubs, and lots of pot…sometimes it feels like the film itself is a giant stereotype.
When Cody is researching what it is to be black, rapper/singer names like
Biggie, Jay Z, Nas, Tupac, Kanye West, Snoop Dogg, Drake, Lil’ Wayne, Usher flash across the screen. Besides athletes, rappers and R&B singers are primarily who young black people are taught to look up to, so it was a telling scene. The beginning of the film was pretty powerful with people of various races telling the camera (which is acting as Cody’s point of view) “you’re acting like a white boy,” “you won’t last a day in the hood,” “you’re not really black,” “you need to be more gangster,” “why are you always smiling?”.
The toxic hyper masculinity found in the African American community is something that should be critically looked at more, so I applaud the take on the absurd notion that smiling makes you less black because that can easily be swapped out with crying or even laughing. Basically any emotion that isn’t anger.
It’s odd because there are points I took away from the film that I really liked individually like when a white cop says “Now a days, you shoot one of them in self defense and you end up in jail. Ain’t that a bitch?” In my mind, those profound observations that Being Black Enough had are bullet pointed, but I didn’t like how they came together and I struggled with the overall narrative.