Hang Time: What is African? What is African American?

  1. Hang Time illustrates how class and gender roles play into the survival of a family. The protagonist of the film struggles between committing a crime to achieve his dream and legitimately reaching his goal. His father is absent and his family is poor. He believes that in order to survive, he must obtain the American dream. He considers basketball to be his last resort. His story is a common one, especially in America. From the presentation by Queen Latifah to the gym shoes, the movie seeks to imbricate the African experience to an African American experience. This attempt was unsuccessful, and I believe that the connection was unsuccessful because the film ultimately lost control of its own representations. The boy’s role appeared displaced, and it was difficult for me to believe that his only option for success would be recruitment by an American basketball team. His struggle appeared uniquely African American, which didn’t work for him as an African. He didn’t fit the “He Got Game” profile. By saying this, I realize that I am stereotyping. Even as I watched the movie, I found myself pondering the possibility of him having dreams of becoming a basketball star. Like Mary- Ann, I felt it would be more appropriate for him to choose a career in soccer. This film highlighted my perceptions of what is uniquely African and what is uniquely American (specifically African American). For me, this film was evidence that these two representations cannot be mixed.   

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