Black love on film: Something Good-Negro Kiss (1898)

Line Sidonie Talla Mafotsing wrote a timely piece on William N. Selig’s 1898 short film Something Good-Negro Kiss, “the earliest known depiction of black intimacy on screen”:

In 1898, [Gertie] Brown and [Saint] Suttle were predominantly known as vaudeville performers and their appearance in the silent short quickly became a symbol of what Black people on screen could do, a departure from the racist caricatures and stereotypes that plagued cinema at the time. Entertainment in the 19th century was filled with racist minstrel shows, with white people in blackface. Something Good flipped that narrative—and is now prompting researchers and curators to rethink the beginnings of Black cinema.

We need more good “somethings” in Black cinema. More Black kisses, more Black joy, more Black happily-ever-afters, more Black passion that doesn’t end in Black pain. And if it starts with a kiss, then so be it.

Black love related: Love from a Black perspective

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