Black Boys illuminates the full humanity of Black men and boys in America. An intimate, inter-generational exploration, Black Boys strives for insight to black identity and opportunity at the nexus of sports, education, and criminal justice. Speaking with an array of figures — ranging from educators, athletes, journalists, activists, parents, and youth — the documentary explores the body, mind, voice, and heart of Black boys and the double edged sword of having to build up their own self worth while knowing the world is not built for them. As various Black men and boys open themselves up to the camera, the emotional landscape of racism and its affects on them are revealed.
Historical parallels are drawn while discussing the centuries long obsession with the bodies of Black men. Also at play is the narrowing window of what attainable success looks like for Black youth as stereotyped images of professional athletes and celebrities continue to be perpetuated, while other avenues often remain overlooked.
Also examined is the systemic inequality prevalent in the American educational system. Having been proportionally denied the quality education experienced by many of their non-Black peers, the achievement gap even for Black youth becomes evident as early as kindergarten. The cycle of the school-to-prison pipeline is evident in educational environments where negative messaging about Blacks boys’ worth remains frequently unchallenged.
Interspersed throughout the documentary is archival footage of police brutality, protesting, and historic lynchings to historically demonstrate the ways in which the voices of Black men have been ignored and devalued for successive generations. When speaking about ways in which to break thee various cycles, several Black men hold up the beauty of a healthy relationship with a caring adult. Though societal fear and negativity exist in reaction to their very existence, the power of love can serve as a healer for a variety of traumas.
Black Boys is a film for this historical moment and beyond.