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19 Shades of Black Documentary

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About Us

19 Shades of Black

What is it like to be a black women, living in the United States, today?

Some see them as the backbone of America. Others see them as loud and overbearing. We see them as women with a story to tell. A story often overlooked and dismissed. A story told among themselves but rarely shared with others.

19 Shades of Black is a film about black women. Their lives, their struggles, their stories.

In asking the question, “What is it like to be a black women, living in the United States, today,” we were allowed a glimpse into their lives and walked away with a better understanding of the world of a black woman.

The women of 19 Shades of Black allow you to see the world through their eyes and to understand the historic and present day challenges they face.

Observation leads to understanding.

The documentary film 19 Shades of Black asks the question: What is it like to be a black woman in America, today?

The struggle for equality for Americans of African descent has often focused on the black man’s journey towards recognition and inclusion. Where does the black woman fit into the equation?

John Brooks, a black male and filmmaker in San Diego, California, understood how society treated him and other males that looked like him but he also understood that perhaps, the black woman was treated just as bad, if not worse.  What must it be like to be a woman in every sense of the word and yet not be treated as such by the society?  Moreover, how might women see themselves after being rejected?  These are questions that could only be answered by a black woman.

“I could only speak for myself,” said John Brooks.  “As a black man raised during America’s civil rights period, I understood what racism, rejection, and being looked at differently felt like.   But I wondered what it was like for a black woman.  In a society where the standard of beauty is white, how do black women fit into that narrative?”

The official end of slavery for black Americans in the United States was on June 19th, 1865.  Black women were, in many cases, left to raise families on their own as black men were being incarcerated for crimes having everything to do with a country not willing to grant equality for all its citizens.

The 19th Amendment gave “women” the right to vote, with that right being synonymous with white women.  The 1960’s feminist movement again focused on white women, first.  That being said, it was not the intent of this project to focus on the historic aspects of black women in America. That topic has been well documented.  The intent of this film is to focus on where black women are now in society, contemporary to our time, and how black women are seen through the eyes of society but more importantly how they see themselves.

Directed by John Brooks

Produced by Christopher Lafayette