10 Moments From 2020 Showcasing Black Joy
To be happy and Black is that of a revolutionary act.
In the news cycle, regardless of when or what time of the year it is, you can count on at least one story about Black trauma. Our pain is seen as entertainment as Non-Black creators and newsmakers parade us around in narratives that we did not create and that we actively try to step away from.
To be Black is to be at war with narratives that have been pushed on you since your ancestors were dragged in shackles onto boats and across oceans to foreign new lands.
To be Black is to spend a portion of your life with self-hate running deep through you, trying to prove to the world that you are not like “other Black people” with every step and breath you take. You aim to be the exceptional negro.
They don’t want to see us happy. They want to see us in whatever light that benefits them whether it be a light that paints them as a savior, found in books and movies like “The Help,” or as nothing more than baby mommas and drug dealers, not even discussing the systemic structures in place that create such realities.
Finding joy in a world where we are constantly being reminded of how white supremacy impacts our lives daily is hard, but it is possible.
Transgenerational trauma is very real. Grief and trauma are passed on in our bloodlines as easily as the melanin that is baked into my skin, but our ancestors still found ways to smile. They still found love and laughter. They danced to music, gathered and came together and never stopped fighting to live their life to the best of their ability. We have been making nothing out of something for centuries, and even in 2020 where if it can go wrong, it will, we have still found ways to shine brighter than the world wants us to.
We have been starting businesses, loving on one another and somehow still finding reasons to wake up every single day.
Yes, we turned lemons into lemonade, and here are some of those lemons so far from 2020.
1. The Verzuz Battles
Throughout the year, we have been seeing big names in the Black community sit next to one another reminiscing about the past and playing hits that we and even our parents grew up on. We’ve seen Brandy VS Monica, Erykah Badu VS Jill Scott, T Pain and Lil John and even DMX VS Snoop Dogg.
Two hour intervals where we could sit back and move our bodies to music while having a blast talking about it on Twitter. It was community building without having to leave the house.
2. Netflix’s New Lineup of Black Content
Late July, a new lineup of Black fan favorite shows coming to Netflix between the end of summer and fall. We’re talking “Sister Sister,” “Moesha,” “Girlfriends,” “One on One: and more. To say Black Twitter was excited is an understatement:
WE DESERVE THIS!!!!!! pic.twitter.com/Jo0wVS1MpM
— A Black Creator. ???? (@CourtRevolution) July 29, 2020
3. A Whole Du Rag Store Opened Up in LA
I don’t know how else to put that. I have never seen a du rag store in my life and 20-year-old Atira Lyons did just that. A luxury retailer on Melrose Ave that has du rags and a clothing line of her own. She did it all by herself with her own coin and had been planning the grand opening for over a year as well.
Yes, we’re proud of you.
The first ever durag store and I put it on Melrose. Wait til you see the furniture I designed for the store. Opening soon!!!!!! pic.twitter.com/KJECp5O0N2
— Atira Lyons (@atiralyons) August 10, 2020
4. Splash Mountain at the Disney Parks Becoming a “Princess and the Frog” Attraction
Princess Tiana is Disney’s only Black princess. She came onto the scene in 2009 singing, cooking and working hard so she could achieve her dream of owning her own restaurant.
Splash Mountain is a ride originally based on the characters from Disney’s most controversial film ever made, Song of the South. Even though time has continued on and Disney has publicly aimed to be more progressive, they maintained this ride that was a reminder of a movie even Disney won’t talk about anymore due to how it portrays racial relations. Zip-a-dee-doo-dah, or whatever.
With June 2020 came the announcement that they would be changing the theming of Splash Mountain completely and that it would now become a “Princess and the Frog” themed ride detailing Princess Tiana and Naveen’s first Mardi Gras celebration. While the timing was interesting, to say the least, to see Disney allow Princess Tiana to take her rightful place in the sun is something we’ve all been waiting for. Not to mention, Disney has Black women at the helm of this project.
Blue skies and sunshine are indeed guaranteed.
5. Nelly and Skai Jackson on “Dancing With The Stars”
I have never seen someone on “Dancing With The Stars” have so much fun and be filled with so much glee.
Nelly is on season 29 on the hit dance show and is currently blowing everyone away. While it’s great to see someone have so much fun back flipping and salsa dancing, the best part is just seeing Black boy joy take center stage.
He said that we were gonna get that backflip, and we did.
Skai Jackson is also sharing the dance floor this season and she is supplying emotionally provocative eclectic performances of her own. We don’t get to see Black girls, especially dark Black girls in such a soft and beautiful light. She’s come a long way since she was on Disney’s “Ant Farm” and it’s hard to not smile watching her perform.
6. “The Photograph”
“The Photograph” is a movie that debuted mid-winter 2020. IMDB describes it as, “a series of intertwining love stories set in the past and in the present.”
Issa Rae stuns in this romantic drama. She showcases a Black woman being loved without having to suffer first. Black women deserve love that doesn’t hurt. We deserve true, divine, passionate and safe love and so often we are seen compromising that in the media.
Issa Rae showcases Black women don’t have to compromise. We can have it all.
You can watch The Photograph on Netflix.
7. A Daddy and Daughter Rocking Out Like None Other
Shared by none other than the queen herself, Missy Elliott shared this video of a father and daughter jamming out early morning in the car. Personally, I don’t know how you wouldn’t break out into a smile watching this.
Good Energy???? pic.twitter.com/2AlVuNszFM
— Missy Elliott (@MissyElliott) June 18, 2020
8. FORVR MOOD
Jackie Aina has been revolutionizing the beauty industry since she started on YouTube over 10 years ago. She has collaborated with Anastasia Beverly Hills, sat down with Naomi Campbell and consistently uses her platform to push for equity and inclusivity in the beauty industry.
This summer we saw the launch of her first brand, FORVR MOOD, a lifestyle brand that currently has candles, silk pillowcases and headbands.
Seeing someone who has been working tirelessly for years utilizing their voice before it was trendy win is so amazing.
Shop FORVR MOOD here.
9. Oumi Janta’s Roller Skating
Oumi Janta went viral roller skating. Personally after I saw this video circulating Twitter and Tik Tok, I saw everyone in my personal life roller skating. I tried to get some myself at Target and skates were sold out. She lived rent free in our minds for weeks, and quite frankly she still does in mine.
View this post on Instagram
⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ bit windy, weather on point tho, everyone is vibing, my foot hurts, can’t work on my toespin, just jamming is good for now ???? with @melinartistabuddha @wwatermelonwheels @pooopsi *** Track ID: Ba:Sen (Pool Party Dub Mix)- In Deep We Trust *** #rollerskating #rollerskate #summer #jamskate
10. Two Single Black Strangers Found Love at a Photoshoot
Heather John and Baxter Jackson were two strangers who both agreed to do a couple shoot before local Virginian photographer Cassie Bailey. What no one expected was that one, it would go viral, two, the two would be adorable together and end up staying in contact and or three, that it would capture the internet’s hearts.
They didn’t get together as an official couple, but seeing this happenstance friendship take over the internet was truly beautiful.
View this post on Instagram
– STRANGER SESSION- Heather + Baxter Heather & Baxter have never met. They both replied to my ad for a single female & a single male to meet up and do a session. I'm pretty sure they had NO idea what they were getting themselves into BUT THEY SLAYED IT! Heather is a 23 year old single momma who is working on her MASTERS DEGREE in social work! She has a 6 & 2 year old. She is from Virginia Beach. Baxter has been here for about 6 months. He's stationed on shore duty with the Navy here in Norfolk. When I tell you they instantly clicked, they instantly clicked! PLUS LOOK HOW GOOD THEY LOOK TOGETHER! They did exchange information, so we shall see 🙂 #strangersession #photography #virginiabeach #strangers
Things are scary out there for everyone on earth right now, but especially if you’re Black. Please don’t stop fighting for your happiness. Don’t stop fighting for joy. It’s out there for us. I promise it is.