Black History Month: The importance of Black representation in film

Black History Month: The importance of Black representation in film

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- During February, Milwaukee Film is holding its annual Black History Month celebration curated by Black Lens. It's showcasing black films, shorts, a documentary, and a discussion at the Oriental Theatre.

It's shining a light on black representation in film. Marquise Mays is a filmmaker and the programmer for Black Lens.

"Representation will always be important for us to be able to see ourselves now, recognize who we were in the past and then dream of new futures," said Mays. "The very beginning of our presence on film was an upright rejection to what people were telling us who we were. I think of Oscar Micheaux who made a direct rejection of stereotypes and racist kind of imagery that was kind of scene at the fiber of Hollywood film making. Oscar Micheaux in the 1920's made race movies to allow us to see ourselves as businesspeople, as beautiful people."

Selena Mixon-Perez, who attended a showing of Renaissance: A Film by Beyoncé, knows the feeling of not being represented started at an early age.

"I know when I was growing up having like little Barbie Dolls and them all being like fair skin not really like me. I was kind of like aww I'm not the representation of the beauty standard," said Mixon-Perez.

"Not to just say and eliminate other cultures but it's very rare for us to be able to relate to a mermaid or something as big as Renaissance," said Salashia Burns. "So, when we see something that we can relate to that looks like us, it brings another level of like wow, this is us."

For some movie goers, this isn't their first-time seeing Renaissance. It's leaving them encouraged.

"Me being somebody that’s creative, it inspires me to go harder. I've already seen the renaissance but I'm here to see it again because left the theater feeling very very inspired. and feeling like I can do anything," said Jacob Stegall.

Award season is among us. It's another arena where representation matters.

We've come so far as a culture and a community to see that. If you talk about my mom, my grandmother, my great grandmother, they didn’t see that in their days growing up. As a country we're evolving so much with that representation, but it's so wonderful to continue to see the acknowledgement of the art of what they are doing," said Adriene Bryant.

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