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Bantucentric: #Blackout

Will New Headshot

William Rivers. Photo courtesy of William Rivers.

“We don’t hate you. We just love our color. I just love myself!”—Muhammad Ali

On March 6, we celebrated blackness, and it was marvelous! For the first time, in a long time, we as a people openly loved ourselves without a care in the world. Using “#Blackout” or “#BlackOutDay,” blacks from all walks of life posted selfies on various social media outlets in solidarity of each other and of the strides that we have made as a people. This wasn’t about models and celebrities that we all glorify. This was about us; the ordinary black people who go every day unnoticed. #BlackOutDay was about us loving us and was without a doubt, a raging success.

 

Announced approximately two weeks prior, #BlackOutDay was going to be a grand day of celebration for all of us. It was advertised as the first of many blackout days landing on the first Friday of every month. Coincidentally, this first one landed on Ghanaian Independence Day, which originally took place on March 6, 1957.

#BlackOutDay was met with a mixed bag of reactions. Some didn’t like this idea of such a day, calling it racially dividing and unnecessary. Some created and shared #WhiteOutDay in opposition of the event. Others liked the idea, but worried that it wouldn’t really take flight as hoped. I, for one, shared the tag immediately, but was unsure how it would all work out.

When the day was finally here, the selfies began flooding in. I woke up early to see how big the turnout was and thousands of people were sharing the tag and posting their pictures. Within the first few hours, the tag made it to the top three most trending tags on Twitter and Tumblr. I scrolled for about 45 minutes straight and saw no ceasing of smiling faces, proud to be black. It was magnificent!

This day did so much for people young and old. Tumblr user NebulaOakley posted, “Scrolling down the blackout tag with my little sister this morning, just to show her what our older sister was talking about and she said, for the first time in her life[,] ‘Look! She has hair like mine, and she looks so pretty[,]’ and started smiling as she felt her curls. [W]e try our best to always celebrate her culture and her race, but she’s never liked her hair even a bit before today. [J]ust wanted to share that #blackout helped out a beautiful black princess finally feel like one.”

Overall, #BlackOutDay was a great day. I feel so proud to have been able to participate in this event, despite my doubts. I love who I am, and I love to see my people loving themselves. This is only the beginning though. I can’t wait for next month.