The trope of the “Magical Negro” — a term coined by filmmaker Spike Lee in 2001 — is just one of many racist clichés that plague American media. It refers to a Black side character whose sole purpose is to help white characters on their own journeys — examples range from Will Smith’s Bagger Vance in The Legend of Bagger Vance to Mahershala Ali’s Don Shirley in Green Book. Now, writer-director Kobi Lobii satirizes this trope in his upcoming film The American Society of Magical Negroes, set to premiere at 2024’s Sundance Film Festival.
The 25 best TV episodes of 2023
In the movie’s first trailer, we meet Aren (Justice Smith), a young Black man who finds himself inducted into the American Society of Magical Negroes. The Society is devoted to making white people feel comfortable using any magical means necessary. As Aren’s mentor (David Alan Grier) puts it, “The happier they are, the safer we are.” But when Aren finds himself in a love triangle with his first client (Drew Tarver) and their co-worker (An-Li Bogan), he begins to question whether he should be putting white comfort ahead of his own happiness.