17 Essential Black Movies That Every Young Adult Needs to See

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I’m a big fan of optimism, but I figure it’s smart to be cautious about it. I experience cautious optimism like no one else when it comes to representation of marginalized people in media, especially TV and film. I know, it’s 2017, and narratives about people who are non-white, non-straight, non-male, etc. are getting more respect and praise than ever before. But it’s wild that the same year a movie like Hidden Figures — a story of three black women who worked for NASA in the ’60s — is released, Ghost in the Shell — a movie in which Scarlett Johannson portrays a Japanese character — is also set to debut. Are these industries really valuing marginalized voices or nah?

When it comes to representation in the media, black people have been incredibly vocal about the fact that art that tells their story is just as valuable as one told about white people or any other group of people. While there’s still a lot — a lot — of catching up to do, there are already plenty of great movies out there that focus on black narratives. Of course, there are too many to include in a roundup, but you should still try to at the very least check out these 17 essential black movies that every young adult should see. From coming-of-age stories to biopics, take some time to expand your film repertoire:

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