We need more ‘trauma-free Blackness.’ Here’s a start
I was scrolling through Facebook one night when I discovered an odd image that somebody had actually published on my page. It was a screenshot of a singular Black guy on roller skates, freeze-framed in the middle of a back road flanked by horse pastures.
As I clicked the video I braced myself, anticipating to see a Black individual being brutalized by cops or confronted in public by White complete strangers. However that’s not what I saw.
The guy flashed a large smile and he began to dance. He had a gray beard, however he skated like somebody twenty years more youthful: rolling his shoulders, vibrating his hips while Mary J. Blige sang “Not Gon’ Cry” in the background. Quickly I was smiling, too.
The video had no caption, however I had a name for what I was enjoying: It was a picture of what I call “trauma-free Blackness.”
Here’s my want a brand-new year: more trauma-free Blackness.
In 2015 was a rough one for many Black individuals. We enjoyed videos of Black males being brutalized or eliminated and checked out Black ladies fatally shot in their houses by cops. We have actually seen a pandemic ravage our neighborhood. Sometimes I, too, have actually felt tired by what one author calls “the relentlessness of Black grief.”
However my boogie-down skater friend advised me of something I had actually nearly forgotten: There is a Blackness that exists beyond injury.
There are huge areas of Black life that have absolutely nothing to do with suffering or injustice. We lead lives that are likewise filled with pleasure, love, laughter and impressive appeal, however those stories do not tend to get the headings. It’s time to alter that.
What follows are my preferred examples of “trauma-free Blackness” — striking expressions of Black life that aren’t infiltrated the lens of bigotry.
I likewise asked my CNN associates to join me in producing a list of our preferred trauma-free minutes. To do so we pored through motion pictures, TELEVISION, music, art, literature, web memes and other pieces of Black culture. It’s by no indicates an extensive list — simply a great location to begin.
This in no chance indicates to reduce bigotry’s effect on Black individuals. I’m a Black reporter who thinks such stories are required now especially.
However Black lives must matter beyond injury. Any real racial numeration ought to acknowledge all of our humankind — not simply when we’re passing away.
These examples reveal why.
I take pride in what one author called “the rugged endurance” of Black individuals. We have actually discovered a method to laugh, dance and produce art of spectacular appeal regardless of whatever we have actually experienced. None of that durability, however, would be possible if we had not produced a set of customs that assist us make it through.
Credit: Evely Hockstein/The Washington Post/Getty Images
The magic of Black ladies’ play — Black kids weren’t constantly permitted the exact same flexibilities as other kids on the play ground, however witness the delights of Double Dutch. Here Taylor Blackwell, 9, leaps rope while her mother Danielle Blackwell and sibling Jaelynn,12, switch on June 27, 2020, at Black Lives Matter Plaza in Washington, DC.
Credit: Joe Sohm/Visions of America/Getty Images
North Carolina A&T’s marching band performs during halftime of Howard University’s 93rd annual homecoming game in 2016 in Washington, DC.; an annual homecoming Greek Step Show competition, also at Howard University. Credit: Cheriss May/NurPhoto/Getty Images
Credit: Jose Carlos Fajardo/Bay Area News Group
Credit: From TwinsthenewTrend/YouTube
KD French sang lead AND backup for a song she wrote about how hard it is to keep off the pandemic pounds, left; rapper Conceited became a hugely popular meme for his reaction during a battle rap moment. Credit: KD French, From Ultimate Rap League/YouTube
Marcus Bridgewater, aka “Garden Marcus.” Credit: Dana Hammarstrom
Sometimes it feels like almost every Hollywood story about Black America is framed through the lens of anger, violence or despair. But these movies about Black people offer romantically, funny and inspiring alternatives.
Regina Hall, Jada Pinkett Smith, Queen Latifah and Tiffany Haddish, from left, in “Girls Trip.” Credit: Michele K. Short/Universal Pictures
Nia Long and Larenz Tate in “Love Jones.” Credit: New Line Cinema
Keke Palmer played a young spelling-bee champion in the 2006 film, “Akeelah and the Bee”; Tyler Perry as Madea, whose tough-talking character inspired a string of popular movies. Credit: Saeed Adyani/Lions Gate Films/The Tyler Perry Company
Tyler Perry’s “Madea” movies — Some say the “Madea” movies are modern-day minstrel shows that reinforce stereotypes about Black people. But Perry’s Madea is a character that many Black families can relate to: a sanctified matriarch who will quote the Bible to you one minute and spank you with a leather belt the next.
Micheal Ward and Amarah-Jae St. Aubyn in a scene from “Lovers Rock.” Credit: Amazon Prime
Beyonce performs at the 2018 Coachella Valley Music And Arts Festival in Indio, California. Credit: Larry Busacca/Getty Images for Coachella
Earth, Wind & Fire combined spiritual uplift with dance grooves to become one of the most popular soul groups of the 1970s; Stevie Wonder entertains students at the Dance Theater of Harlem in 1976. Credit: Michael Putland/Hulton Archive/Allan Tannenbaum/Archive Photos/Getty Images
Chance the Rapper performs at the 2017 Firefly Music Festival in Dover, Delaware. Credit: Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for Firefly
Jill Scott performs during the 2018 Essence Festival on July 6, 2018, in New Orleans. Credit: Paras Griffin/WireImages/Getty Images
Louis Armstrong blowing his trumpet in a publicity photo from 1960. Credit: Bettmann Archive/Getty Images
For decades roles for Black television actors were confined to criminals, nannies and characters “scratching and surviving.” Now many are thriving in roles and shows where racism and suffering are no longer center stage.
Lakeith Stanfield, Donald Glover and Brian Tyree Henry, from left, in an episode from Season 2 of “Atlanta.” Credit: Guy D’Alema/FX/Everett Collection
Raven-Symone, left, and Orlando Brown in an episode of “That’s So Raven.” Credit: Tony Rivetti/Disney
“Key & Peele’s” spoofs of college football player introductions have become classics. Credit: From Comedy Central
Issa Rae, left, and Jay Ellis in a scene from HBO’s “Insecure.” Credit: HBO
Some of the most famous books by Black authors focus on the tragic impact of racism. But there are Black writers in sci-fi, romance and other genres whose works transcend race.
Author N.K. Jemisin Credit: Laura Hanifin
Authors Octavia E. Butler, left, and Beverly Jenkins. Credit: AP, From Beverly Jenkins
Author E. Lynn Harris in 2008. Credit: John Bazemore/AP
One of the most popular slogans from the Black Arts Movement of the 1960s was “Black is beautiful.” No group has reinforced that message like Black visual artists, who have created some of the most gorgeous portrayals of Blackness. Now they’re finally getting the recognition, and museum space, that was denied to many of their predecessors.
Romare Bearden. The Street, 1964. Restricted gift of Artworkers Retirement Society. Credit: Romare Bearden Foundation. Licensed by VAGA at Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY.
Romare Bearden Credit: Anthony Barboza/Archive Photos/Getty Images
Harmonia Rosales’ “The Creation of God.” Credit: Harmonia Rosales
Jean-Michel Basquiat in 1985. Credit: Patrick McMullan/Getty Images
Credit: Kay Rufai
Correction: A previous version of this story contained a photo that misidentified “Deadly Sexy” author Beverly Jenkins. That image has actually been changed.
Factors: Illustrations for this story were done by CNN’s Gabrielle Smith. Image modifying by Rebecca Wright. Visual modifying by Allie Schmitz. Animation by Tune Shih.
Jobber Wiki author Frank Long contributed to this report.