10 Movies We Love for Black and Brown Kids

Diverse, inclusive, educational movies for Black and Brown children

If your child won’t stop singing that song from his/her favorite movie, or if you’ve had to create a birthday party based on your child’s favorite television show character, you already witnessed the power of television and film.

Research shows that media has a profound influence on children’s psychosocial development, by impacting how they view themselves and the world around them.

If you’re part of the African Diaspora, this fact could be working against how your children appreciate their heritage. Non-inclusive television shows and movies may send the message that Black and Brown children are invisible or that their stories and experiences aren’t valuable enough to be told.

As you seek to provide more inclusive entertainment for your child, check out some of our favorite movies for Black and Brown Kids.

1. Akeelah and the Bee

In this movie, Akeelah, an 11-year old spelling whiz from South Los Angeles, makes it her mission to win the National Spelling Bee. While dealing with issues including racism, classism, and poverty, Akeelah and the Bee addresses themes of self-esteem and good sportsmanship, which all children can learn from and relate to.

2. The Watsons Go to Birmingham

Based on the award-winning book of the same title, The Watsons Go to Birmingham follows a family from Flint, Mich., as they embark on a road trip to Alabama to visit extended family in 1963. While in Alabama, the family comes face-to-face with the cruel realities of racial tensions in the South. This movie teaches children about racial injustice, but also how courage can motivate people to stand up for what is right.

3. Hidden Figures

This is the most recent movie on our list, but if you child hasn’t seen Hidden Figures you need to make that happen ASAP. Not only was it one of the biggest movies of the year thus far, it gave everyone a much-needed lesson on the hidden history of the contributions of African American women to Science and Mathematics. This movie will let your daughters (and sons) know that science and math are areas in which they can excel!

4. The Wiz 

It’s The Wizard of Oz–same plot and characters–but just with a lot more soul and representation! Oh, and an ICONIC cast. Diana Ross, Lena Horne, Michael Jackson and Richard Pryor?!?! This powerhouse cast gives you a perfect opportunity to introduce your children to African American cultural giants of the past and present lest they not know! We loved the 2015 reboot with Amber Riley as well, so check that out for a two for one special.

5. Cinderella

This one is for all of the little Black girls who aspire to be princesses. Before Princess Tiana, there was Brandy! With an inclusive cast that celebrated diversity, this remake of Roger’s & Hammerstein’s Cinderella combined three Black female greats, Brandy, Whitney Houston, and Whoopi Goldberg, and gave little black girls around the world a princess with whom they could identify. And the soundtrack is pretty memorable. I mean, it’s Whitney Houston for goodness sakes.

6. The Karate Kid

 Another day another remake. This one is a contemporary take on the 1984 hit. In this modern remake, Dre, played by Jaden Smith (whom we love by the way) moves with his mother to China. It is there that he connects with a Kung Fu master, played by Jackie Chan, who teaches him the importance of maturity, discipline, and calmness.

7. The Princess and the Frog

Of course the list wouldn’t be complete without the first Black Disney Princess. Although feminists might have some concerns about this movie, little girls across America are still having Princess Tiana birthday parties and that says something about the power of representation.

8. An American Girl Story- Melody 1963: Love Has to Win

We love watching Marsai Martin on Blackish, so you know we had to support her movie. Love Has to Win follows 10-year old Melody Ellis as she navigates life in Detroit during the Civil Rights Movement.  This movie will introduce your child to historical topics in a way that they can understand and relate to. This movie can definitely spur conversation about the history of race in America.

9. Cool Runnings

This one’s for all of our sports fans and islanders. Cool Runnings introduces a cultural element to this list by following the first Jamaican bobsled team. And an added bonus? The movie is based on a true story, so your family can do further research. We know, we know, they didn’t cast actual Jamaicans to play the role and it was full of stereotypes (make sure you talk to your kids about that), but if you can get past the cheesiness, the themes of sportsmanship and perseverance are sure to leave a positive mark on your kids.

10. The Lion King

We’re gonna let y’all finish, but The Lion King is one of the greatest Disney movies of ALL time. Taking place in a beautiful African Savannah, the Lion King deals with love, jealousy, coming of age, family, loss…I mean the list goes on. And did we mention James Earl Jones is Mufasa?! Enough said. With relatable, fun characters and an AMAZING soundtrack, this is certainly a movie your kids will want to watch again and again. Be careful though. We’re still scarred from the scene where Mufasa dies. Get it? Scarred?

What did we miss? Let us know your favorite kid’s movie in the comment section below.

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