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Black Identity and Race & Race Relations

Colors.(Way We Live: Introduction to Sociology; 12)

For racial and ethnic minorities, the struggle for recognition and equality is nothing new. Perhaps nowhere is this more visible than in the United States. The polarizing effects of stereotyping, racial prejudice and discrimination, and its impact on generations of Black Americans are discussed. Learners will also meet the Bazzy family - an Arab-American family in Michigan who must cope with local misconceptions and generalizations about Arab culture in the wake of 9/11. 2005. 27 min.

Combing Thru the Kinks!

African-American women ages nine to ninety-two discuss their hair joys, struggles and dilemmas, with emphasis on hair braiding and its ethnic roots and how their choices of hair styles affect their personal identities. 1999. 41 min.

Domino: Interracial People and the Search for Identity

Portrays the stories of six interracial people, exploring issues of identity, cultural isolation, and the search for community. Through these personal stories, each person recounts how their identity is affected by their parents' history, hierarchies of race, gender roles, and class. Ultimately, these six individuals demonstrate how living intimately with two cultures can be a source of strength and enrichment. Dist.: Films Media Group. 1994. 45 min.

Finding Christa.

A partly documentary film concerning an artist who leaves her three-year old daughter at a children's home and that daughter, a performing artist, who later, at the urging of her adoptive mother, seeks her out. Film by Camille Billops and James Hatch. 1991 55 min.
Reviews and articles:
Deans, Jill R. "Performing The Search In Adoption Autobiography: Finding Christa and Reno Finds Her Mom." Biography 2001 24(1): 85-98.
Lane, Jim "Black Autobiographical Documentary." Jump Cut /40, Mar 96; p.38-46.

Four Hundred Years Without a Comb.

A documentary/drama in African American history and tradition as told through various combs. Beauty is a big part of Africa and its people around the globe. The advent of slavery and the lack of combs and the ability to groom caused a social, individual, health, and spiritual death for the slaves giving rise to inferiority attitudes regarding hair, skin, nose and lips still present in African-Americans of today. In this film the emphasis is on the hairdressing of African-American women as a manifestation of this "inferior seed". Based on a book of the same title by Willie L.


A young woman whose father was Italian American and mother was African American reflects on racism in her family and in her community. Written in the form of a letter to her aging white grandmother, she talks about racism against African Americans by New Yorkers from Southern Italy who had experienced racism themselves. 1997. 13 min.

Good Hair

Comedian Chris Rock tackles the very personal issue of hair, and how attaining good hair can impact African American's activities, relationships, wallets, and a self-esteem. Engages in frank, funny conversations with haircare professionals, beautyshop and barbershop patrons, as well as featuring interviews with Dr. Maya Angelou, Nia Long, Ice-T, Raven Symone, and more. Directed by Jeff Stilson. 2009. 95 min.

Hair Piece: A Film for Nappy-Headed People

An animated satire on the question of self image for African American women from the perspective of hair styling. Lively tunes and witty narration accompany a quick-paced inventory of relaxers, gels and curlers, rituals all-too familiar to African American women, and indeed to all women confronted with an unattainable ideal of beauty. 1985. 10 min.

Related web sites: Women Make Movies catalog description

I Am a Man

An exploration of "what it means to be a black man in America... confronting issues of race, and racism, through the lens of gender, probing deep within the traditional American ideals of manhood in order to draw out the complex and often ambivalent nature of black male identity. A documentary by Byron Hurt and Andrew Jones. Dist.: Media Education Foundation. 1998. 60 min.