What is the summary for "Framing Blackness" by Ed Guerrero?

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Noelle Thompson eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Well, let us start by looking at the full title of the book: Framing Blackness: The African American Image in Film (Culture And The Moving Image). This title alone tells us a bit about what the book is about. Here Guerrero explores African American history through cinema.

Guerrero’s main point is that movies reflect the domination of the white race over most everything, even the genre of cinema. In this book, Guerrero absolutely rejects the “usual” representation of the African American in American movies as either comic relief or criminal assailant or loyal servant or brute athlete.

Of course, as one would expect, the African American race was first portrayed with blanket prejudice in the film industry. Even though efforts were made to improve the image over the years, there were major setbacks according to Guerrero. For example, Guerrero goes into detail about both horror films and science fiction films as methods to continue the stereotype. Later, films of the 1980s are discussed as an example of “re-subordination” of African Americans. Then, Guerrero looks as some specific actors and their choices in cinema roles: Poitier, Murphy, Goldberg, and Pryor. In his or her own way each of the above actors (both male and female) helped the viewing public realize that African Americans were not, in fact, one-dimensional.

In his conclusion, Guerrero has us visit social justice through the eyes of an African American independent filmmaker. Different approaches to telling the African American story as well as financing a film are discussed. Guerrero concludes that his own critical study of the subject proves there is power in what he calls “framing blackness” in cinema.

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