Being young is already a hard enough experience. The youth go through a complex array of emotions and changes that we still don’t understand. However, Black youth experience all of this in addition to all of the trials and tribulations that come with being Black. These eleven films showcase just a few scenarios Black youth experience on a day to day basis. Some are exaggerated for comedy and some are direct examples from actual Black life.
The Inkwell (1994)
Drew (Larenz Tate) is a quiet 16-year-old still recovering from the trauma of accidentally burning his own house down. Drew’s parents, Kenny (Joe Morton) and Brenda (Suzzanne Douglas), take the family to Martha’s Vineyard, Mass., to vacation with their wealthy relatives for the summer. On the island, Drew discovers an upper-class black community that centers on parties held at a beach called the Inkwell. There, he falls for two different women (Jada Pinkett, Adrienne-Joi Johnson).
Directed by Matty Rich, Written by Trey Ellis & Paris Qualles
The Color of Friendship (2000)
Disney Channel Original
In 1977, two girls from opposite sides of the world come together and change each other’s lives. Young, white Mahree Bok (Lindsey Haun) lives in apartheid South Africa with her wealthy family. Piper Dellums (Shadia Simmons), the daughter of a black U.S. congressman in Washington, D.C., prepares to welcome Mahree to the U.S. for a semester abroad. Mahree is surprised to find her host family is black, and Piper is stunned that Mahree is white. Each will have to question the assumptions she had.
Directed by Kevin Hooks, Written by Paris Qualles
The Great Debaters (2007)
Poet and professor Melvin B. Tolson (Denzel Washington) teaches at the predominately black Wiley College in 1935 Texas. He decides to start a debate team, something nearly unheard of at a black college. While at first he butts heads with the influential father (Forest Whitaker) of one of his best debators, eventually he is able to form a team of strong-minded, intelligent young students, and they become the first black debate team to challenge Harvard’s prestigious debate champions.
Directed by Denzel Washington, Written by Robert Eisele & Jeffrey Porro
A Different Tree (2013)
A Different Tree tells the story of one eight year old girl’s journey to build a relationship with her absent father, through a class assigned family tree.
Directed by Steven Caple Jr., Written by Victoria Rose
High-school senior Malcolm (Shameik Moore) and his friends Jib (Tony Revolori) and Diggy (Kiersey Clemons) bond over ’90s hip-hop culture, their studies and playing music in their own punk band. A chance encounter with a drug dealer named Dom lands Malcolm and company at the dealer’s nightclub birthday party; when the scene turns violent, they flee — with the Ecstasy that Dom secretly hid in Malcolm’s backpack. A wild adventure ensues as the youths try to evade armed thugs who want the stash.
Directed/Written by Rick Famuyiwa
Burning Sands (2017)
Zurich Condoll (Trevor Jackson) is a student at Frederick Douglass University and is proud to be a pledge at a famous African-American fraternity. But anti-hazing rules have driven his Hell Week underground, and the veteran members of his fraternity have degenerated into a pack of vicious, drunken, sadistic louts.
Directed by Gerard McMurray, Written by Gerard McMurray & Christine Berg
The Hate U Give (2018)
Based on The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. Starr Carter is constantly switching between two worlds — the poor, mostly black neighborhood where she lives and the wealthy, mostly white prep school that she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is soon shattered when she witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend at the hands of a police officer. Facing pressure from all sides of the community, Starr must find her voice and decide to stand up for what’s right.
Directed by George Tillman Jr., Written by Audrey Wells
American Son (2019)
Based on American Son by Christopher Demos-Brown. An estranged couple reunite in a Florida police station to help find their missing teenage son.
Directed by Kenny Leon, Written by Christopher Demos-Brown
Burning Cane (2019)
An aging mother who lives in cane fields of rural Louisiana, is torn between her religious convictions and the love of her son.
Directed/Written by Phillip Youmans
See You Yesterday (2019)
Two teenage science prodigies spend every spare minute working on their latest homemade invention: backpacks that enable time travel. When one of their older brothers is killed, they put their unfinished project to the test to save him.
Directed by Stefon Bristol, Written by Fredrica Bailey & Stefon Bristol
The epic emotional journey of a suburban African American family as they navigate love, forgiveness and coming together in the wake of a tragic loss.
Directed/Written by Trey Edward