So, I’m doing laundry and in between loads (thank goodness I’m no longer a slave to quarters…), I’m watching TV. DISH Network didn’t let me know I apparently had a free preview of HBO, Cinemax and Starz, so I flip over to see what they’ve got on. I turn on “Jumping the Broom,” the black wedding movie that made a splash last year in the theaters and essentially greenlighted the Akil production team to go forward with the Detroit-filmed remake of “Sparkle,” Whitney Houston’s last film.
I’d seen the last half of “Jumping the Broom” when Paula Patton and Laz Alonso actually, well, jumped the broom, so I caught the first half and went on washing clothes. The movie itself was fine, but I just have issues with yet another black film with a clash of rich black folks and poor black folks.
Almost every Tyler Perry film ever made has this theme (and pretty much all of them period show black families on the upper tiers of the wealth ladder), and we’d also seen extreme displays of wealth in “This Christmas” and “Welcome Home Roscoe Jenkins,” the latter of which heavily touched on the rich vs. poor theme. And we’ll never get enough of poor or disenfranchised blacks on screen; the last two black Oscar winners won for their roles “Precious” and “The Help.”
I’m fortunate enough to come of age in the 1990s/2000s when we had black people of all classes on screen. We lived in the hood (Boyz N the Hood, Menace II Society, Set it Off), raised families in nice neighborhoods (Love and Basketball, Soul Food), could be wealthy or well-respected (Eve’s Bayou, How Stella Got Her Groove Back) or young and upwardly mobile (The Best Man, Brown Sugar), and everything in between. So what happened to that?
I’m having trouble looking for the people that look like me on screen — and no, I don’t necessarily need another romantic comedy (I’m looking at you, Think Like a Man). Like, where are the people who go to regular jobs every day? Not cleaning toilets or dictating orders to a secretary — but the people in between? Where are the people who drive four-door sedans that are a few payments away from being paid off, the people who live in three-bedroom colonials, the people who drink rum and cokes instead of cosmos and mimosas (or can’t afford to indulge at all), the people whose parents went to college without the weight of the world on their shoulders because their grandparents had adequately worked for that right?
Is there room in Hollywood for simple, everyday black people anymore?