The word “cinema” refers to an art and industrial practice; it names a craft, a business, an enactment of cultural production, and an object of disciplinary study. African American studies is an interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary field devoted to the study of history, philosophic traditions, gender, sexuality, culture, the arts, social life, and political thought as these issues relate to African Americans. The field’s appreciation of the idea of race and how this idea is manifest in innumerable facets of American life crucially informs the study of the art of blackness. Therefore, to map out “cinema” as a keyword for African American studies requires us to address several interrelated questions. How might the methodologies and critical tendencies of African American studies inform an understanding of cinema, and subsequently, how might cinema inform an understanding of African American studies? Second, what are the terms of engagement that are most generative for considering cinema and African American studies?