American Gangster’s Portrayal Of Black Women

I meant to post a Talk To Me Tuesday article yesterday but totally forgot. I know we pretty much have a free for all on Tuesdays but I wanted to devote yesterday’s segment to the movie American Gangster and it’s portrayal of Black women. I have not seen the movie but have read a great a deal about what people think of it on my forum. Quite a few complaints were about the way sistas were portrayed as appose to how the film’s only non sista, the character of Denzel’s wife, was portrayed.

Tea_Honey from our message board says:

If you like Movies about rich black men marrying white-looking latinas, draping them in diamonds and furs and living in mansions, and naked black women being shot in alleys and gunned down by cops in heroin factories, then you’ll LUV American Gangster!

More comments can be read about the film here. And for those of you who did see the film, what did you think of it? Were the portrayal of Black women as either whores, unfit mothers having sex in front of their children or drug addicts offensive to you? Do you actually believe that it the way it was in reality, or do you think great liberties were taken with the film. Or like many, do you just not care and think it’s just a movie?

Btw, do click that link above and check out what your sistas and brothas on saying. It just might make you think…


  1. Thank you for sharing this information with me. I was going to see it, but I wish I would give my hard earned $8 to see some garbage like that. :hmph: not to mention the price of snacks in the movie theater.

  2. what is so choking about this comment????

    We all know that negroes in america are brainwashed nd worhsip everything that is white or close to be
    [ yall need an example?] even some of yall in this forum[maybe all of yall for what i know] don’t be outraged when people use what they see you do or sa and write it down….

    You guys allow those white looking black female or male to be superich and you guys call them gorgeous,praise them and will give them any named qualities just because they are almost white… that spell s.l.a.v.e to me..JUST A BUNCH OF SLAVEs :loser: . It didnt start with “american gangster” and it won’t end with it don’t sit here talking about how upset you are when you perpetuate this movement of adoration toward white folks,white looking black folks,and other latinas

    Someone said not too long ago they wish they were latina what did some of yall negroes do? make excuse for it and talking about forgiveness so don’t sit here crying your heart out because white folks dont like you back…

    As for me i’m a proud black young lady and i wont spend my $ on some people that try to run away from their heritages i aint got no time for it i’m not brainwashed and i’ll never be !!!! Pity on yall negroes that forget about your history your ignorance is their power :bag: what world would we leave to our childrens? ๐Ÿ™„

    shante aka the voice :

  3. :stop: Tea_Honey could NOT have seen the same American Gangster that I saw. If you hated New Jack City then you would probably hate American Gangster too. The movie does NOT revolve around black women, it is NOT a movie about a black woman, and it is very much so reality. Frank Lucas’ reality to be exact. Yes, there were naked black women cooking heroin, just as there were naked black women cooking coke in New Jack City. Why is it such a big deal who that man draped in diamonds? What difference does it make? This is a story about that man’s life. If the story/autobiography was about a white drug dealer who had naked white chicks cooking his product would it really make a difference to anyone?? Frank Lucas apparently played a major part in the destruction of Harlem (where the majority of people living there were BLACK) when it came to heroin and heroin use. He sold the drugs to the people using and those people were black people. The movie was not all about naked black women cooking dope. Mostar, I suggest that you see the movie. But first, watch the American Gangster series on BET where the real Frank Lucas tells his story. Peace

  4. American Gangster was good – not great.

    The movie was based on a true story, so I don’t doubt for a second that black women were treated as second class citizens in the drug culture of the 60’s and 70’s.

    If it’s worth anything, there was a black woman who supervised and managed the packaging of “Blue Magic” :confused:

    The latina sista was not a strong character nor was she memorable. She was at best, eye candy, real lame, sounded as if she had marbles in her mouth and ditched Lucas when he was arrested by the FEDS and all of the money was gone. So I don’t know how anyone could think that she was positively portrayed.

    Lucas’ mother (played by Ruby Dee) seemed like a strong, well respected influence. Her presence on screen was limited but powerful.

    For the most part, I think people are trying to make something out of nothing ๐Ÿ™„

  5. (Sorry i forgot to add this to my other comment) ๐Ÿ™

    The reason i love the movie and went to go see it is
    1. I love gangter movies and
    2. Denzel fine self is in it…to me it’s something sexy about denzel playing a bad guy in moives like that!
    I don’t know the women who’s was playing his Puerto Rican wife who maybe or maybe not be Puerto Rican her self.
    it’s based of the real Frank Lucasโ€™who had a Puerto Rican wife and Nicky” Barnes who was a drug dealer too who! had a black wife. It just happen’s that frank Lucas fell in love with a women who happpen’s to be a Puerto Rican women. :brownsista:


  6. I :iagree: with that too..people are trying to make something out of nothing :confused:

  7. Maybe I didn’t see the movie, but I’m sure the “true” story is that black women were not the only one on drugs and working in the factories and having sex in front of their children. And to everyone who hates black people because of their skin color, I suggest therapy for you because all of us did not pick on you or think we are better or more attractive than you. Those are your personal issues and should not be taken out on all light skin people. the war ends when self- love begins.

  8. I the black women potrail was right though. it was real life, it wasn’t a black face production.

  9. I saw the movie and will agree with majority of the people that the movie was about his life and not anything dealing with black women. I believe the movie did not show black women negatively, it just happened that he fell for a latino woman, he is married to another woman that looks latino also so that is just his preference of women. If we want to take it there the white and asian women should be upset for protraying them as hoes that only want sex. The cop protrayed by Russell Crow was sleeping with so many different white women in the movie and they olny showed the asian women shaking there ass and trying to sleep with the soldiers.

  10. I’ll have to come back and comment after I’ve seen the movie…which will be in about six months ๐Ÿ˜† I’m waiting for the DVD release. :brownsista:

  11. Its a movie about someones life and I am sure that a lot of what you saw was true and a lot was exaggerated. But we as Black women gotta get out of playing the victim role. Yes there are time when Black women are humiliated and underestimated but there are plenty of movies where we are strong Black women that have some of the same issues and problems that people of all other colors have. Yes there are black women out here on crack doing EVERYTHING in front of there children – there are also white, latino, jamaican people that do the same things but if you are living in Harlem during that era, you KNOW there had to be mostly Black women affected by the drug trade. I think the yong lady is being a tad bit sensitive. Every movie that you see can not have a Black women with a Halo in it.

  12. The movie is based on a true story, so if that’s what was going on at the time in that man’s surroundings or his life, then how else is it suppose to be portrayed. Don’t be so sensetive, every story can’t be positive and have a happy ending because that’s not real life.

  13. Frank lucas was married to a puerto rican women in real life, so I don’t see why people are getting so made that they casted a puerto rican women. The movie was based on a true story…

  14. I’ve seen the movie, and it was different from the typical gangster films you see. It showed how close he was to his family and his determination to make money, but his determination did cause a lot of destruction to the black community in harlem with (cocaine). The movie displayed the reality of what happened in that era.

  15. I have never commented here before, but I wanted to say something about the movie. For one, I wasn’t disappointed with the “portrayal” of black women. If that’s how it happened, then that’s how it happened. As with movies that are based on a true story, sometimes things are exaggerated to make it more interesting, but as Black women we know that we are not all angels and cannot always be portrayed positively. I don’t really want to repeat what other people said but really no females in the movie regardless of race were portrayed positively, and the movie wasn’t about them anyway.

    I was disappointed with the movie in general. For one, Russell Crowe was not believable at all in this movie. I thought he sucked and couldn’t pull off an American accent. Denzel was great as usual, but the movie just didn’t really do it for me. It was just good, not great or powerful like I was expecting. I can’t really explain why it was such a let-down, but I know when the movie got to the end I was like ‘that’s it?’ Maybe it was the director? I don’t know.




    :iagree: :iagree:

  17. The treatment of black women is very degrading and demeaing in the type of environment that produces, drugs, pimping, prostitution, and is povery stricken. This is a cycle that has trickled down to our son’s who lack the natural respect for their women. This type of learned behavior is shown in today’s music, particularly rap. I understand that AG is a biopic. If there werent so many negatives images of us on screen this wouldnt be such a big deal. Due to the fact that Afri Amer women are being replaced by women of different races in music, Hollywood, and TV its seem that positive images of ourselves are rapidly disappearing. The problem is not AG it’s our community Today and how are treated and the way we interact with our brothas. They have to understand our perspective and reclaim us as their Queens.

  18. It’s a good movie some parts drag on to long , and other parts of the movie could have been explain more.Basically it was about how (heroin )really killed Harlem black community in the 70’s.

    If you talking about how they had the sisters cooking that crap up standing their buck- naked That’s apart of the business The Movie New Jack City did the same thing .

  19. It’s weird because when i first read the title for this, i thought “we were in the movie?” when watching the movie i felt that it was more of a male driven movie, as most gangster/mob movies are. And when i did sit and ponder the role of black women in the fil the first thing that popped in my head was the absolutely fantastic miss Ruby Dee. And as for our “portrayal” in the film as working in heroine factories and dying in alleys, hey it was the ’70’s and that’s what was going on…that’s life! Can’t ignore it, it was apart of history, but at least the film does give more than one view of Black women. And as for Black men draping Latinas in diamonds and fur, just a reminder that this is a biopic, so yes we may not like the actions of some African Americans, but then again that’s life…

  20. What makes you all think that it how it really went down? All the women, including Frank’s own mother was a piece of Black trash knee deep in the drug game and loving it. His wife on the other hand was shown as almost having no knowledge and sheltered, when in actuality she knew and left Frank’s ass with the quickness when the cops swooped down on him and his family. As Black women we never think of our image or how we are portrayed in films which is why we are always shown as loud fat mammies and White and other non Black women are portrayed as delicate feminine flowers in need of protection. Thank God for Brown Sista and blogs like What About Our Sisters and Black Women Need Love Too, who look beyond the exterior to expose what is really going on.

    I will add also that this was film based on real life like many other mob films but they never show White women as having any part of mob activities and glorify the lifestyle to the hilt. Blacks thought AG would do the same for this Frank Lucas but it didn’t. Instead it showed him, his family and Black in general as animals willing to kill off their own people with dope to make a buck. Ever notice in White gansta flicks they make it a point in the film to tell the audiences they are only selling dope to “darkies”. Why you think that is?

    Some of us can see the forest for the trees and then some of us can’t see a damn thing. No wonder Black women are never chosen in films to play alongside Black men. We are unattractive and a turn off to mainstream White America. But I wonder why? Who made our image so despicable to them and why? Some of you don’t even care.

    Look for Will Smith’s next movie soon. He is running around protecting some non Black sista and little girl. I bet in that movie somewhere will be a brown skinned loud mouthed fat Black mammy character, someone you all can identify with :confused:

  21. I don’t see how anyone can complain about the movie because there a black women working in the shop while Lucas’ wife is Puerto Rican. That’s how it actually happened. This isn’t Hollywood making black women look bad. This is a true story. Not only that… but the movie is not about the women AT ALL.

    If you like Movies about rich black men marrying white-looking latinas, draping them in diamonds and furs and living in mansions, and naked black women being shot in alleys and gunned down by cops in heroin factories, then youโ€™ll LUV American Gangster!

    That’s so stupid. Anyone, (with common sense), can see that the ONE scene in the movie that this refers to not only has nothing to do with the movie as a whole, but is one of the more gripping sequences in the movie. Grow up people. We all love our :brownsista: !

  22. None of you know how it supposedly really happened. Can you say for sure Black women were naked packing dope and that one of them sexed up a man in front of her child? No. You are so stupid for believing that. But I expect little from dumbazz Black men who are now idolizing Lucas as if he were some type of God. I agree with the poster who said Black men seemed to be drawn to this film out of a need to have a ganster to idolize who looks like them.




    :iagree: :iagree:[/quote]

    I agree! The movie about FRANK’s life is pretty damn good. It’s not portraying us to be poor. That’s how it was during those times. Were we suppose to lie and not tell how it really was? If we did that for this movie then everyone would be complaining that the movie wasn’t real and a lot of TRUTH was left out. The movie was reall y good and it showed how it really was. Now what we need to complain about is Jay Z album. WACK and now he’s a gansta with madd story’s to tell. Now that’s what is POOR to me!!


  24. i see the owner of this blog deleted my comment…its all good
    i hope you at least recognise that freedom of speech is a constitutional right

  25. I saw the movie, and it was good – but not all that great. I’ve never been a big Denzel fan because I really don’t think he has any range at all, but it was decent. As for the portrayal of black women … I mean it is what it is. That was Lucas’ reality, right or wrong. Truthfully none of these issues even crossed my mind. I did shake my head when I saw him push up on Miss Puerto Rico, but I wasn’t surprised – that is a phenomenon that’s just part of our culture, for better or for worse. He picked the Hispanic chick when there were plenty of black women around – it happens. That’s what negroes with money tend to do … so I wasn’t shocked. I think anybody who ‘s griping about this is reaching a bit … but that’s just my two cents. :dance1:

  26. :stop: If was back in the days when women like then had to be in the Cut room naked packing dope so they want steal nothing and they got pay for it too! that..was good :booty: . The moive was about the real “Frank Lucas” and what? went wasn’t even naer close to being about us! just show how they handle the dope what they have to do.. :bag: we can’t act like this didn’t happen casue it really did… I think nobody don’t wanna believe it was the TRUTH :hmph: …. and we needed to know the TRUTH I sure they had some Puerto Ricans in there in the moive or not ๐Ÿ˜ …but in real life sinces it was in New York…It’s not really a big deal! to worrie about anyways! :brownsista:

    can’t wait till it comes out on DVD!! :bowdown:

  27. I saw the movie and I thought it was well done.. do I think he somewhat looked like a snitch in the end … yeah but he was snitching on the dirty police at the end.. so im cool with it…Now how they portrayed black women in the movie..It’s the truth, thats what many black women did in harlem back in the day. there is no denying that..But if u do realize at the end… his momma was right that girl left him and was no where to be found when her man was in jail and didnt have any more money.. see a sista would have held down the buisness for him and waited till he came out. :brownsista: That’s why the Black Man needs to apperciate us a little more because we understand the struggle.

  28. oh yea one thing? if anyone don’t know what a cut room’s when they have all the dope at in a room and that’s why the women had to be naked and packing it up to get it ready to be sold on the streets…

  29. i haven’t see the movie and i won’t.
    let me know when there is a movie about
    a black person that has done positif and good to nd for his/her race

  30. Just discovered your site. ๐Ÿ™‚ Ima check it out. Well, I guess I’m not the only one on the planet who didn’t see American Gangster. I’m quite sure it will be especially interesting now. And I’ll prolly have something to say about that subject on…

  31. I’m sorry but I didn’t like the movie.

    Black people we have a long way to go. Why are we so intrigued by ghetto culture. We’ve got enough black heroes and sheroes who have had amazing success WITHOUT dealing with this drug culture. They’re lives should get the same spotlight.

    First of all, I DID NOT like the potrayal of black women in this movie. We were nothin’ but a bunch of hoes, drug addicts, and disposables. Meanwhile the white looking latina princess was put on a pedastal. For a minute there I thought I was watchin’ a slaver owner with his white queen meanwhile the slaves (harlems addicts/customers) made him rich. You know people there is such a thing as creative license. Movies take that all the time. How do you think Angelina Jolie got to play a black woman in one of her movies. So, I don’t understand how they could not have had a strong black female heroine as a supporting character. I find it hard to believe that this man did not come across those women and that these women did not have an impact in his life. We all know it’s these black women who get these men where they need to be but get dropped off as soon as these men get there.

    I don’t understand our culture’s obessession with portraying black women as whores and/or druggies. That’s all I saw in this movie. His mother was not a positive role model. All she was, was another materialistic black mother who loved her lavish lifestyle more than her sons future. What pissed me off about Ruby Dee’s character was her overly obvious affection for her white looking latina daughter in law. Her over-the top reaction when she saw her for the first time made me sick. Would she have given a dark sista the same kinda of love? probably not.

  32. You have to cautious when movies are “based on true stories.” You remeber in the Pursuit of Happyness, Will Smith’s wife in the film was a struggling waitress who left his family. If you read the biography his wife was actually leaving him to purse dental school at UC Berkley. Although it was wrong she left her family, why couldn’t they just be real and show that sista had some eductation. But she was portrayed as the bad black mother who was poor.

    And my second point, I haven’t seen American Gangsta. But, I think sistas just get tired of seeing us in a negative light in the media. Maybe if we saw more posititve images of ourselves, like white women do, nobody would even trip of off American Gangsta.

  33. This is just my opinion, and I think it was a good movie. It could have been better, but I didn’t attribute that to the portrayal of Black woman.
    Speaking strickly on the issues between Latino and Black women, I am from Harlem/The Bronx, and growing up I noticed how my classroom size slowly but surely turned from predominantly Black to Latino, to the point where I was one of two, maybe three Black children in my individual graduating intermidiate class. And as I got older, and dating and such came into play, I noticed as always, lighter is better, and Spanish is the best, because if you went White than that was a betrayal. Being a lighter skinned girl, I was often asked, particulary in resturants or those famous NY parades, “Are you mixed? Are you Domincan?” And I would always reply, “No, I am Black.”, and there seemed to be a weird approach after that at times. With a lot of guys my age, Latina girls were the beauty standard, and only an exceptionally beautiful dark-skinned or even medium toned girl would do. With Latina girls, it was not a choice for a Spanish dad to let his little girl shack up with a Black guy, it just wasn’t cute. It still happened of course, but there would be discourse in that girls family. I would feel offended by this, but far be it from me to preach about anyone’s dating choices, especially when I was in my teens. In New York, it has seemed to always be this way, until very recent years where it’s such a mixed race culture that it isn’t that serious.
    I say all this to say that even with this appreciation for the view of Black and Latina girls in a culture, I didn’t see any of this significant difference of portrayal. This is a movie based on reality, these things happened. In this time, in Harlem Black people were certainly the selling base for crack. Let’s be serious. We saw ONE Latina women in the movie, if you don’t care to count backgound and extras, and I never thought he chooses her because she is Spanish, he chooses her because she is somehow better than a Black woman. We saw a man’s world, as the drug biz has always been, with little regard for women. Everything is not always about skin color. This is what this was, is what it is now. Nothing more, nothing less. Not eveything is conspiracy against Black women.

  34. the movie was outstanding it was a true story, what do yall want, be realistic,, if its fiction then talk , but its a true story, enjoy it as a enteraining movie with a history lesson in it. and if have not seen the movie well don’t say nothing!

  35. I cosign to that. How did these people miss the fact that this is a biographical movie?


  37. We can say this is reality entertainment and just be glad that a black movie was created, but the reality of this whole thing is that the images that are in the film, are the reasons why so many people around the world, lack respect for us as a people, and see black women as mere sex objects. Ridgley Scott could have filmed those despicable scenes in such a way that those images weren’t so demeaning.

    It’s kind of sad that black women are still being portrayed like this, but if black men were being portrayed in a sexualized manner, there would be marches and speeches. The black woman is devalued, and its sad that we justify this mess.

  38. Yeah, this is a mixed bag….About the Film American Gangster… I thought Denzel was a stickler for portraying Black Women favorably. He’s been married to Pauletta ( A Beautiful Black Woman, Not White-looking.) for so long, we loved that…What Happened? I really have been wondering for some time why we as Black Women are almost never shown as warm, attractive, nurturing, people in the Media. ALL media. Or as someone you’d Die for, not take that Job in Who-Knows Where for. You’re programmed at day one to want shiny, manageable hair, and to be a size two. I’m just stating the facts. The key word is PROGRAMMED. Socially, we’re at the bottom of the totem-pole, and the media? Forgetaboutit! Yes, its hard to stay on the subject matter, because I always wonder what happened, and we got to be the taboo of life? If you see yourself on television, and all you see on telivision is you ( your kind of people, talking about your kind of ideas) I guess that would make you a desireable commodity… But I think asfar as entertainment is concerned, maybe the portryals of Black Women should have been reconsidered….

  39. When I first saw a movie called “The Craft”, I was excited. A Beautiful teen, Rachel True with these “other” girls with witchcraft powers… But all through the movie, she’s demissively told to shut-up. Like a dog. Never mind the “negroid” comment….. In the movie ” Showgirls” Black Women get raped, one breaks her leg, but it doesn’t stop there. And I remember thinking ,whom-ever made this film really hates Black Women. It was that clear.

  40. When movies that portray AA women in a favorable light are placed in the theater, we need to go out and support the movie on opening weekend. Hollywood recognizes one thing and that’s the dollar sign. Even then, we would all probably disagree on what would be considered good movies. For me it would be Waiting to Exhale…however you don’t see too many movies in the theater like that anymore. The stories are out there, but the studios aren’t buying them.

  41. Wow! I just visited your site like five minutes before you posted Sheila. Congrats on you Black Web Award win. :banana:

  42. :brownsista: i just discovered your site and bypassed the celebrities esp those pics. maybe it is my age i am a senior and like to keep up on all things concerning the black woman. the comments and i did not read them all seem to be like and dislike about even. it’s good we all have opinions and are able to express them. good and healthy debate about the movie was good i think. i am going to watch the bootleg copy of the movie, too much to go and see it. to me all this is entertainment and one man’s vision of another’s life. anyone could do a bio and maybe not be the same.

    WHATEVER!!!! it’s just entertainment and i enjoy the debate….keep it up. :brownsista:

  43. This movie is no glorification, Lucas ended up in prison and when he got out he had nothing. In an interview with Donnie Simpson, Lucas states that when he was released from prison he didn’t even had enough money to buy himself a cup of coffee (so he say). The man is now in a wheelchair which I’m sure his lifestyle contributed to his present condition. If he was a hard working man, with a legitimate job, he might have used his job’s healthcare plan and sought help with his condition before it worsen. Hopefully children (which I’m hoping are over 17) that watch this movie will realize that living in the fast lane can cause you to end up dying a slow painful death that’s not always contributed by a human hand, but by the natural force of the Universe (what you give, you get back law).

  44. The movie is about Frank lucas’s life. Well i know during that time, the women that cut the dope were naked when they did so and guess what happens when they steal… they got shot duh! And have you ever took the time to think they gave him a Hispanic wife because he actually had a Hispanic wife? Its not meant to be sexist or racist at all just as historically accurate as possible while remaining entertaining. i think some of you may just be nit picking a little to much.

  45. Am a very proud dark skinned girl,I feel sorry for all these fake ass celebs(beyonce, rihanna)who are dying to be white.its a shame and they are disgrace to the black community and they should no way be glamorised

  46. alot of black men are attracted non black women look at basketball players like kobe and allen iverson.

  47. I don’t believe that was how it happened. Because I saw Frank Lucas’ daughter on Nancy Grace’s show and she talked about her mother and father being in and out of prison. So therefore there should have been some scenes where his wife was either arrested or shown doing somehthing illegal or thought to be illegal.

  48. see a sista would have held down the buisness for him and waited till he came out. Thatโ€™s why the Black Man needs to apperciate us a little more because we understand the struggle. :lol2: :lol2:

    You need to stop watching rap videos & google “Kemba Smith”

    & that’s why sista’s end up doing mandatory minimums w/ no $$ in the commissary, no visitors and her kids in foster care…wearing cornrows & hugged up with Bertha!!!

    good for the PR chick for not being so damn stupid!! It seems bw are the last ones to figure it out!!!

Comments are closed.