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Film Review: 'Step' Continues Hollywood's Recent Trend of Capturing Black Girl Magic

by Todd A. Smith


Blessin’ Giraldo and the “Lethal Ladies of BLYSW” of “Step” (Photo courtesy of Fox Searchlight Pictures).


Turning Plastic-ware into Silverware 



Poor African-American children growing up in broken homes with very little money, very few positive examples and violence all around them often becomes a cliché stereotype in Hollywood.

However, the documentary “Step” is very far from cliché and predictable.

“Step” is a heartfelt, powerful, raw and honest look at what real Black girl magic is.

Black girl magic is girls from Baltimore who grew up with a plastic (not a silver) spoon in their mouth because of hardships.  But with grit, determination, and good role models in their homes and at their charter school, turned those plastic spoons into silver spoons.

The dancing art form of stepping traces its roots back to Africa.  


However, it was made popular by predominantly African-American college fraternities and sororities beginning in the 20th century.

That art form has gotten so huge throughout the world that fraternities and sororities compete nationwide for thousands of dollars throughout the school year.

The stepping phenomenon trickled down to high schools in the 1990s with teenagers also competing throughout their area for large cash prizes.

With the backdrop of Baltimore crime and the killing of Freddie Gray by Baltimore police officers, “Step” focuses on three steppers from an all-girl Baltimore charter school, which has a goal of sending all of their students to college after high school graduation.

The most talented and most at-risk student is Blessin’ who formed the step team when she was only in the sixth grade.

Her step team has not lived up to their potential over the years, but Blessin’ and her coaches are determined to make her senior year a special one for the step team.

Cori is the genius of the step team.

Her mother had her when she was just a high school student herself, but with help from Cori’s father, raising her has been a relative piece of cake.

Cori has younger siblings and a new stepfather.

But what she does not have is a lot of money to pursue her dreams of attending an Ivy League caliber school.

Cori definitely has the grades, but it takes more than great grades and hard work to make it to the most elite schools in the country.

Taylor is also a good student, but a new boyfriend has her spending more time courting and less time on coursework during her senior year.

Unfortunately for Taylor, her mother does not play mediocrity and demands greatness from Taylor.

Taylor’s mother is a corrections officer who always admired the local police force.  But being a single mother made it difficult to fully pursue a career with the police department.

She does not want Taylor to become a single mother like her because she knows how much harder life will be for Taylor if she goes down that path.

“Step” is an uplifting portrayal of inner-city life, which will probably destroy racist stereotypes of Black inner-city kids.

Moviegoers will become invested in the young girls, cheering for the accomplishments and berating them for their youthful mistakes.

While “Step” ends on a high note, it would be great to see where the three young girls’ life takes them.   Therefore, a sequel would be great.

While the young girls might come from a cliché background, their story of triumph and achievement will hopefully become cliché when it comes to the portrayal of African-American youth in mass media.






This article was published on Friday 11 August, 2017.
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