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African-American Studies (Essay 2)

African-American Studies (Essay 2)

Gender Relations in the Black/African American Experience: Black Girl

Gender dynamics describes the relationship between men, women, girls, and boys and their interactions based on cultural ideas on gender. The film Black Girl describes the relationship between men and women and shows us how they interact. The film focuses on the family of a woman named Rose and describes the relationships and interactions between family members. The film shows us how Black Girls chase their dreams, how a family can hold back the black girl, and how important family support is.

The oldest woman in the household is Rose’s mother, Mu’ Dear. She keeps the home together by being the source of advice in the family. We see her talking to her grandchild, Billie Jean, about her decision to drop out of school, advises her about that, and advises Billie Jean to do better when she starts acting out, insulting her sister’s children. She offers advice to Rose about both her love life and parenting. Rose’s mother represents the first generation and commands respect from all family members. Her decision to interact and live with a man without being married to him represents the changing times, where older people can interact and marry comfortably. The respect and advice she offers represent how older people are wise enough to influence decision-making in the current society.

Rose is a mother of three and the breadwinner of the family. She takes up mothering other girls, such as Netta, whom she schools. Most of her interactions are with her mother, her children, and her former lover, Earl. Her opinions are valued highly in the film, where she is very involved in her children’s lives. At the start of the film, she confronts Billie Jean about her dropping out of school. She also criticizes her decisions and those of her daughters. Her disappointment is visible by her pride in Netta, who isn’t her child, over her children. Her interactions with Earl represent her comfort and safety with the father of her children. The interactions with her mother’s lover represent the discomfort with the idea of single parents getting new lovers. She represents all single mothers who take care of their children, work, and have romantic relationships. She represents the Strong Black Woman.

Norma represents the outspoken “Black Girl.” She appears to be aggressive in most of her interactions in the film. She is more involved in her sister’s life as she gives her opinions on most of Billie’s choices. The influence on their sister also represents the relationship between sisters, where they argue and make up. The interaction with her dad represents the love daughters have for their fathers. Her interaction with the postman, where she appears to be flirting with him, represents the different attractions in society.

Ruth Ann represents the survivors of failed marriages in society. Some people go to their homes when their marriages do not work out. Her mother welcomes them home, and there are no questions asked. She defends her children against Billie Jean, who insults them. She also works together with her sisters to keep their mother’s favorite daughter out of their home. She represents the Black mothers who leave toxic marriages and relationships.

Billie Jean is the youngest sister. She represents the teenage Black Girl. We see her passion for dance as she drops out of school and pursues dancing. However, her decision is influenced by Netta, and we see her leave at the end of the film. As a teenager, we see her throw tantrums at almost every confrontation. She follows her dreams without quitting, even when the pay is minimum wage. She chooses to pursue her dreams even when her entire family is standing in her way. She represents the Black teenage dreamer.

Netta represents the Black Girl overachiever. She reaches all her goals and influences Billie to make the same choice. Netta was passionate and was able to get Rose’s assistance in paying her fees. Without Rose, she probably wouldn’t get her diploma. She represents the Black Girl, without favoring odds, who still manages to accomplish her goals.

The men in the film all play a part. Billie’s boss, Morris, gives her a chance to pursue her dancing dream, and he also defends her when the men at the bar harass her. He represents the Black Man that helps boost a dream. Mr. Earl represents the absentee fathers who show up, hand out money, and vanish once more. Mr. Herbert, their grandmother’s lover, plays the role of the man of the house. He influences most decisions in the home and also helps with their bills. He represents the reliable Black Man.

In conclusion, the film represents the lives of a typical Black family. Every character in the movie represents a part of society. Even though the film’s recording was in 1972, the similarity to the current community shows us that most cultural elements do not change, such as the value of education in society. The film also shows us how a family can hold a person back from their dream, but a person can overcome all challenges posed during the pursuit of a goal.


Davis, O. (1972). Black Girl (1972) [Video]. Hollywood; Cinerama Releasing Corporation.


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African-American Studies (Essay 2)

ON the #2 assignment:

Black Girl (1972) the movie – it’s in the link for WEEK 6 – All you have to do is:

a) watch the film,

b) take notes on the “gender dynamics” and how the household is run,

African-American Studies (Essay 2)

African-American Studies (Essay 2)

c) consider the aspirations of each Black female and what is going on between the siblings,

d) provide your overall account of what you think this film tells us about Black females back in the 1970s AND has anything changed in the 2020s? We are after all nearly 50 years on from this movie.

The point in showing it is to give you some historical context about gender relations in the Black/African American experience.  3 full pages, double spaced, Times New Roman 12 Font. Reference the FILM on page 4. Most find the movie very interesting. It was directed by the late/great Ossie Davis.


Please review professor feedback before writing the second essay, there were mistakes made on my first paper which caused points to be taken off.
  • Assignment #1 Feedback
    • Your paper appears a little “rushed” and lacking in proper referencing. When you state a claim by the author your simply put (2006) but what about the page #? You need to direct the reader to where the author is stating something you've found worthy of reference.
    • Also, put page #s on your paper; and capitalize Black Studies always, you employed “Black
      studies” most of the time – if not all.
  • I’m not sure why she put the other video link in the instructions (I don’t think that’s the correct movie, or maybe it’s part of the course readings). You can ignore it if it’s not relevant.
  • Here’s the link to the movie on youtube:

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