During a time of racial unrest and a hyperfocus on inclusion and representation, three Black scholars from different time zones met on Zoom to discuss recent movies. Initially, our conversation revolved around the role of the representation of Black people in film and contentious arguments about the quality of Marvel’s Black Panther. We shifted toward a more analytical trend when we began to interrogate how the world of cinema has attempted to take progressive steps regarding representation, such as moving away from obvious racialized tropes. Essentially, we concluded that the industry has yet to address its deeper and prevailing flaws when it comes to its perception of Blackness. While much of the previous research on film unpacks the tropes and stereotypes that work as limiting factors, our work seeks to understand how Black characterizations in film serve as sites of praxis, whereby audiences learn how to read and understand Blackness. Using frameworks based on Black critical race theory, critical media studies, and critical race theory, as well as aligning that with our focus group study, we have conceptualized the humanizing approaches to cinematic knowledge (HACK). Our findings suggest that HACK will serve as a tool and mechanism to disrupt the patterns in film that act as a generational stagnation in the way we view the Black community on and off the screen.


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