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Over the weekend and leading up to Trayvon Martin’s birthday on Monday, Twitter was trending the #BlackMenSmiling hashtag and the resulting pictures were, well, freeing and gorgeous.
The movement, which began on Friday, had the goal of celebrating Blackness and positivity during Black History Month. As mentioned in Huffington Post, the hashtag allows the humanity of Black men to shine on Twitter while highlighting their fight against hypermasculine stereotypes regarding sexuality, physical strength, and aggression.
In a study conducted on racial bias in judgments of physical size and formidability, lead author John Paul Wilson of Montclair State University found “unarmed Black men are disproportionately more likely to be shot and killed by police, and often these killings are accompanied by explanations that cite the physical size of the person shot.”
Black Twitter “rode the wave” of confronting these stereotypes into the week and continued posting selfies—some which elicited hilarious responses.
Lookin at you got me like pic.twitter.com/HD4QAFWhjP— Victoria 🖤 (@VOrnelas98) February 6, 2018
Thirst trap of the week ——> #Blackmensmiling— Zamandlovu Ndlovu (@Ms_ZamaNdlovu) February 4, 2018
Whether #BlackMenSmiling had the intended effect of breaking the internet or not, it certainly occupied our Twitter feeds, and maybe even our desktop backgrounds, for a few days.
It was nice to see Twitter serving as a platform for Black men to show their radiance “just because they can.” Now, let’s keep this brightness going all year-round.
Grace Speas is a news reporter, covering streaming entertainment, internet culture, and viral politics.