5 Reasons 'Coming 2 America' Is A Lit Experience For The Culture

Whether you love or hate sequels, this is one film worth a watch.

Culture & Entertainment

This article is in partnership with Amazon Prime.

Eddie Murphy's sequel to his 1988 hit Coming to America, had anticipation and nostalgia on its side, drawing old fans along with a new generation of their children and grandchildren who were just conceived or babies when the original hit big screens. From grandmas to Generation Z, we all tuned in, landing the film a top spot in Amazon streaming during its opening weekend.

It's no surprise that with the Wakanda craze, the beautiful depictions of Black Hollywood magic, and the resurgence of the unforgettable comic bits that had many of us cracking up back in the day, we'd all be excited to see an updated version of what happened in the kingdom of Zamunda. We also watched to see how the star-studded cast--which included both veterans and newbies—would fit into it all.

Image via Giphy

The thing about sequels is, you either love them or hate them, and many of us seek the same euphoria, if not a boost in it, when we watch a continuation of a cult classic. Coming 2 America gave us the same laughs and more, with the bonus of infusing today's social issues that affect us all, adding actors from the African continent, and catering to today's youth in both attire and soundtrack. It provided a much-needed escape into dad-jokes, cultural satire, wacky cameos, and Black pride that we all need right now.

Still not a believer? Here are 5 good reasons the film is a lit, must-see experience for the culture:

Image courtesy of Amazon Studios

1. A good number of Black Hollywood legends with young power players—in one film? Count me in.

Just the inclusion of actors like Morgan Freeman, Arsenio Hall, Wesley Snipes, James Earl Jones, John Amos, Tracy Morgan, Gladys Knight, and Vanessa Bell Calloway is enough to pay homage to the fact that we need to not only give our cinematic kings and queens their flowers while alive, but we should salute the fact that they're still honoring us with their talents. These actors have not only paved the way for actors of color in Hollywood to continue working and getting that coin, but many have been riders for opening opportunities for the new generation of entertainers behind the scenes.

Image Courtesy of Amazon Studios

2. Black women dominate and female empowerment is more than present.

Not only did the film include a push for female equality, but the women on the cast and behind the scenes slayed their roles, both in beauty and in alluring range of character. The original Princess of Zamunda, Lisa McDowell (played by Shari Headley) was just as graceful and Black-don't-crack beautiful—with the Queens-bred edge—as she was more than 30 years ago. Leslie Jones brought humor and authenticity to her role as Mary Junsen and was a breakout star who helped carry many of the scenes in which she was featured.

Teyana Taylor brought her usual bold sexiness and a swag-savvy remix to Vanessa Bell Calloway's 1988 jilted-bride role. Nomzamo Mbatha, an award-winning South African actress, gave her all in a renewed love story with the new prince, LaVelle Junsen (played by Jermaine Fowler), and represented for Black womenpreneurs. And last but not least, the three young actresses who played the new princesses of Zumanda—KiKi Layne, Bella Murphy, and Akileh Love—portrayed agile, smart, and compassionate young women who will have you lovingly reminiscing about the power-packed fem sensations in Black Panther. Also, the whole fashion aesthetic of the film was led by Oscar-winning costumer Ruth E. Carter, the first black person to get the honor in the "Best Costume Design" category.

Image courtesy of Amazon Studios

3. African excellence from the continent was actually easy to spot this go 'round.

From superstar Nigerian entertainer Davido, to cameos from Nigerian-American actor Rotimi and late-night host and South African comedian Trevor Noah, this sequel gives us Afrobeat, glamorous geles, and fashion designs that add at least a touch more authenticity. South African designer Laduma Ngxokolo's knitwear label, Maxhosa, was featured prominently as part of the characters' wardrobes, as well as jerseys by Ghanian-American designer Paakow Essandoh.

Image courtesy of Amazon Studios

4. The OG favorite characters from the original don't disappoint.

Almost all of our favorite original characters, played by Murphy and Hall in disguise, are back, older, and a tad funnier because of that. The barber elders are relatable whether you grew up in the '80s or not, and everybody knows that OG uncle who offers unsolicited, sometimes inappropriate but oftentimes funny, real-talk quips. We all also know the old-school pastor who might have some semi-shady but hilarious approaches to preaching, or the non-singing crooner who always wants to take over the mic at a wedding, karaoke session, concert or other family event. There's even a new character whose grotesque demeanor and look actually gives Arsenio Hall a run for his money in his primary role as Semmi.

Image courtesy of Amazon Studios

5. It's a much-needed escape from the current state of the world.

The flashbacks will have you reminiscing—or at least yearning—for a time when quarter-waters were actually 25 cents, the Internet and cell phones didn't dominate much of our lives, cities had a lot more grit and soul, and oh, there was no Coronavirus pandemic. True, there were major world issues in the '80s, but some aspects of life were a lot less scary and isolating. Every inclusion or reference to Jheri curls, rattails, stonewash jeans, flat-tops, stacked cuts, and high-cut bikinis, and that old-school love-at-first-sight plot is much appreciated at a time when masks, Hazmat suits, vaccinations, and social distancing have dominated our everyday lives.

Coming 2 America is now streaming on Amazon Prime.

Featured image courtesy of Amazon Studios

ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.


We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
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