The Black List: Vol. 1

  • Review Date: January 25, 2008
  • Rated: NR
  • Genre: Documentary
  • Release Year: 2008

Common Sense Media says

Profound docu explores African-American racial identity.
  • Review Date: January 25, 2008
  • Rated: NR
  • Genre: Documentary
  • Release Year: 2008

Age(i)

2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17

Quality(i)

 

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Positive message about self-acceptance and empowerment and the strength of your community. Participants pay homage to their ancestors, parents, and mentors. The movie also raises some very interesting (and at times controversial) issues about race and racial identity. Topics like racial discrimination are discussed -- in the context of being part of the reason people were empowered to succeed.

Violence

Brief conversations about shootings, fears about violent racists, and the Ku Klux Klan.

Sex

Writer Toni Morrison and renowned erotica author Zane discuss sexuality and female gratification. Interviewee Faye Wattleton is a former president of Planned Parenthood and briefly discusses unwanted pregnancy.

Language

Language includes racial epithets like the "N" word and "faggot," but they're mostly used within the context of personal stories. Other language includes words like "pissed" and the occasional use of expletives like "f--k".

Consumerism

Some of the interviewees briefly discuss projects that they've written and/or produced over the years, but it's not in the context of advertising or promoting them.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Some photographs show artists/performers smoking cigarettes or cigars. Discussions about African Americans dealing drugs and engaging in other related behaviors are offered in the context of what some of them had to overcome and what needs to be improved in African-American communities.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this thought-provoking documentary -- which features prominent African Americans talking about how they feel about their race and racial identity within a predominantly white culture -- is one to watch and discuss with your teens. There are some strong positive messages about self-acceptance, empowerment, and community, but the film also addresses heavy topics like discrimination, sexism, and sexuality. Expect some strong language, from terms like the "N" word and "faggot" to occasional profanity (including "f—k"). That said, many of these words aren't used gratuitously but are instead offered within the context of the interviewees' personal stories.

Parents say

Not yet rated
Review this title!

Kids say

What's the story?

THE BLACK LIST: VOL. 1 is the first in a series of documentaries produced as part of "The Black List Project," which has reclaimed the term "black list" and redefined it to mean "an assembly of short stories about race, struggle, and achievement." The film features excerpts from 21 interviews with notable African-American writers, performers, athletes, activists, and community leaders, including former Guns n' Roses guitarist Slash, tennis champion Serena Williams, former Negro League Baseball star Mahlon Duckett, Civil Rights activist Vernon Jordan, actor/mogul Sean Combs, comedian Chris Rock, Nobel Prize-winning author Toni Morrison, and former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Colin Powell. The interviewees share thoughts and personal stories that reflect what being black means to them -- and how their race impacts their overall lives. They also talk about the role that their families, ancestors, and mentors have had in their attempts to succeed in a predominantly white Western culture.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

This film offers interesting and at times unique insights into how different African Americans think about the role that race plays in their lives. It also introduces viewers to African-American leaders who may not be household names but who have built successful careers in fields where few African Americans have succeeded in the past. The Black List also introduces a new generation of viewers to some of the people whose life's work opened the doors and paved the way for all people of color in America.

While the edited interviews sometimes seem a little on the short side, they're actually just long enough to allow viewers to get a sense of each person's individual journey -- and to create an interesting collage of ideas about what being black really means to African Americans. And although the film focuses on the African-American experience, many of the issues it raises could inspire people from other racial/ethnic groups to look to their own communities to explore their own identities and seek mentorship and inspiration. Overall, The Black List offers a profound viewing experience to anyone who has questioned -- or been questioned about -- the role that race has played in their lives.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the African-American experience in the United States. What can African Americans' history in this country teach us? How has the media reflected this experience? Families can also discuss the unique experiences that people from various ethnic backgrounds have in the United States. How does someone's race and/or ethnicity impact their life? Do you think people from different races and/or ethnic backgrounds are treated equally? Why or why not? Parents: Check out our tips on media and stereotypes.

Movie details

Theatrical release date:January 20, 2008
DVD release date:February 3, 2009
Cast:Chris Rock, Louis Gossett Jr., Sean P. Diddy Combs
Director:Timothy Greenfield-Sanders
Studio:HBO
Genre:Documentary
Run time:92 minutes
MPAA rating:NR

This review of The Black List: Vol. 1 was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

Find out more

Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

Find out more

Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging, great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging, good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging, good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging, okay learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

Find out more

About our buy links

When you use our links to make a purchase, Common Sense Media earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes. As a nonprofit organization, these funds help us continue providing independent, ad-free services for educators, families, and kids while the price you pay remains the same. Thank you for your support.

See more about how we rate and review.

What parents and kids say

See all user reviews

Share your thoughts with other parents and kids Write a user review

A safe community is important to us. Please observe our guidelines

Teen, 14 years old Written byKhayla Lewis February 14, 2013
AGE
12
QUALITY
 

Just Fine

What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models

Poll

Did our review help you make an informed decision about this product?

Top Kids' Movies: An Essential Guide for Families