Review: STEP documentary speaks on Black Girl Magic, leadership and relationships

STEP (2017) documentary

The STEP documentary came to selected theaters this weekend. It is the story of a girls STEP team in Baltimore making it through their senior year in High School. And it focuses on their journey to graduate and attend college.

The struggles in the movie were palpable to me. They ended one of their performances shouting the statement, “It could have been us.” They were referring to the death of Freddie Gray which happened right in their streets. And the statement is also true for Black women everywhere. Black women have some of the lowest and most dire statistics in the entire nation for depression, health and career advancement. Over the course our lives we will be navigating all sorts of obstacles that currently keep our community from flourishing. There is still a lot that needs to happen and this story documents that need.

I was really struck by the incredible focus on the relationships with strong women leaders that helped these girls achieve.

Coach Gari
This was the first year she was teaching the step team at the school. She pushed them in technique, discipline and academics. It seemed like she asked for a lot but always for the benefit of the students and their pride and their future. In the past, she had her own struggle with school and used her story to inspire her students to keep trying.

Tayla’s mom
Her mother works as a Baltimore correctional officer. She spoke about how the police when she was growing up was her inspiration for her job and that she wanted to help her community. Attending step practice and even getting on the floor herself was a source of embarrassment for Tayla.

Principal Hall
As the principal she stated her mission was to make sure that every student gets accepted into college and graduates. She had a very direct and compelling personality when it came to expecting academic excellence from her students that were struggling.

Blessin’s mom
Her mother struggled with depression since being a teenager. She was supportive of Blessin’s academic goals but would not always make it to school meetings. When she did you could tell it meant a lot to Blessin.

College Counselor Paula Dofat
It was amazing to watch their college counselor be so hopeful and work really hard with each of the girls no matter what their journey was. Sometimes it wasn’t just academics that Paula had to give them a reality check on, it was also finances. She approached all of these issues with compassion, knowledge and encouragement.

Cori’s mom
Her mother’s story is also one of perseverance and resourcefulness. As a newly blended family there were still getting on their feet. But she fully supported Cori’s lofty academic goals to go to John Hopkins University and would not let Cori doubt herself.

In this movie they did not give you the stereotypical single narrative of the Black women. They showed everyone’s struggle and their hopes. They humanized Black women and I think that is something really important for more people to see.

Blessin’ said it best, “If you come together with a group of powerful women, the impact is immense.” If you have been lacking on your doses of Black Girl Magic lately this is something you should watch!

Also related: Jump by Cynthia Erivo: song from the STEP documentary