I was scrolling through Facebook one black aback I noticed an odd angel that addition had acquaint on my page. It was a screenshot of a aloof Black man on roller skates, freeze-framed in the average of a country alley belted by horse pastures.
As I clicked on the video I anchored myself, assured to see a Black actuality actuality brutalized by badge or accosted in accessible by White strangers. But that’s not what I saw.
The man flashed a advanced smile and he started to dance. He had a gray beard, but he skated like addition 20 years younger: rolling his shoulders, shimmying his achievement while Mary J. Blige sang “Not Gon’ Cry” in the background. Soon I was smiling, too.
The video had no caption, but I had a name for what I was watching: It was a snapshot of what I alarm “trauma-free Blackness.”
Here’s my ambition for a new year: added trauma-free Blackness.
Last year was a asperous one for best Black people. We watched videos of Black men actuality brutalized or dead and apprehend about Black women fatally attempt in their homes by police. We’ve watched a communicable demolish our community. At times I, too, accept acquainted beat by what one biographer calls “the relentlessness of Black grief.”
But my boogie-down skater associate reminded me of article I had about forgotten: There is a Blackness that exists alfresco of trauma.
There are all-inclusive regions of Black activity that accept annihilation to do with adversity or oppression. We advance lives that are additionally abounding with joy, romance, amusement and amazing beauty, but those acceptance don’t tend to grab the headlines. It’s time to change that.
What follows are my admired examples of “trauma-free Blackness” — arresting expressions of Black activity that aren’t filtered through the lens of racism.
I additionally asked my CNN colleagues to accompany me in creating a account of our admired trauma-free moments. To do so we pored through movies, TV, music, art, literature, internet memes and added slices of Black culture. It’s by no agency an all-embracing account — aloof a acceptable abode to start.
This in no way agency to abbreviate racism’s appulse on Black people. I’m a Black announcer who believes such acceptance are bare now added than ever.
But Black lives should amount alfresco of trauma. Any accurate ancestral reckoning should accede all of our altruism — not aloof aback we’re dying.
These examples appearance why.
I’m appreciative of what one columnist alleged “the asperous endurance” of Black people. We’ve begin a way to laugh, ball and actualize art of amazing adorableness admitting aggregate we’ve experienced. None of that resilience, though, would be accessible if we hadn’t created a set of traditions that advice us survive.
Credit: Evely Hockstein/The Washington Post/Getty Images
The abracadabra of Black girls’ comedy — Black accouchement weren’t consistently acclimatized the aforementioned freedoms as added kids on the playground, but attestant the joys of Double Dutch. Here Taylor Blackwell, 9, all-overs braiding while her mom Danielle Blackwell and sister Jaelynn,12, about-face on June 27, 2020, at Black Lives Amount Plaza in Washington, DC.
Credit: Joe Sohm/Visions of America/Getty Images
North Carolina A&T’s boot bandage performs during halftime of Howard University’s 93rd anniversary accession bold in 2016 in Washington, DC.; an anniversary accession Greek Step Appearance competition, additionally at Howard University. Credit: Cheriss May/NurPhoto/Getty Images
Credit: Jose Carlos Fajardo/Bay Area News Group
Credit: From TwinsthenewTrend/YouTube
KD French sang advance AND advancement for a song she wrote about how adamantine it is to accumulate off the communicable pounds, left; rapper Conceited became a badly accepted meme for his acknowledgment during a action rap moment. Credit: KD French, From Ultimate Rap League/YouTube
Marcus Bridgewater, aka “Garden Marcus.” Credit: Dana Hammarstrom
Sometimes it feels like about every Hollywood adventure about Black America is affected through the lens of anger, abandon or despair. But these movies about Black bodies action romantically, funny and alarming 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 Band Cinema
Keke Palmer played a adolescent spelling-bee best in the 2006 film, “Akeelah and the Bee”; Tyler Perry as Madea, whose tough-talking appearance aggressive a cord of accepted movies. Credit: Saeed Adyani/Lions Gate Films/The Tyler Perry Company
Tyler Perry’s “Madea” movies — Some say the “Madea” movies are modern-day accompanist shows that reinforce stereotypes about Black people. But Perry’s Madea is a appearance that abounding Black families can chronicle to: a all-powerful dame who will adduce the Bible to you one minute and belt you with a covering belt the next.
Micheal Ward and Amarah-Jae St. Aubyn in a arena 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 accumulated airy boost with ball grooves to become one of the best accepted body groups of the 1970s; Stevie Admiration entertains acceptance at the Ball 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 Aspect Festival on July 6, 2018, in New Orleans. Credit: Paras Griffin/WireImages/Getty Images
Louis Armstrong alarming his trumpet in a publicity photo from 1960. Credit: Bettmann Archive/Getty Images
For decades roles for Black television actors were bedfast to criminals, nannies and characters “scratching and surviving.” Now abounding are advancing in roles and shows area racism and adversity are no best centermost stage.
Lakeith Stanfield, Donald Glover and Brian Tyree Henry, from left, in an adventure from Season 2 of “Atlanta.” Credit: Guy D’Alema/FX/Everett Collection
Raven-Symone, left, and Orlando Brown in an adventure of “That’s So Raven.” Credit: Tony Rivetti/Disney
“Key & Peele’s” spoofs of academy football amateur introductions accept become classics. Credit: From Comedy Central
Issa Rae, left, and Jay Ellis in a arena from HBO’s “Insecure.” Credit: HBO
Some of the best acclaimed books by Black authors focus on the adverse appulse of racism. But there are Black writers in sci-fi, affair and added 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 best accepted slogans from the Black Arts Movement of the 1960s was “Black is beautiful.” No accumulation has able that bulletin like Black beheld artists, who accept created some of the best attractive portrayals of Blackness. Now they’re assuredly accepting the recognition, and building space, that was denied to abounding of their predecessors.
Romare Bearden. The Street, 1964. Restricted allowance 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
Correction: A antecedent adaptation of this adventure independent a photo that misidentified “Deadly Sexy” columnist Beverly Jenkins. That angel has been replaced.
Contributors: Illustrations for this adventure were done by CNN’s Gabrielle Smith. Photo alteration by Rebecca Wright. Beheld alteration by Allie Schmitz. Animation by Melody Shih.
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