Words by Mariyah Zaman

Feb. 26. 2021

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#BlackBoyJoy: Black men are tired and Black boys need to be inspired

Gangsters, thugs or victims of police brutality; Black men are tired and Black boys need to be inspired. In an effort to take back their narrative and break away from the constant rhetoric that portrays young Black men as aggressive, unprogressive and only ever victimized by authority figures in the news; #BlackBoyJoy created waves across social media.

After the hashtag was revived by Chance the Rapper on Twitter in 2016, now just under 700,000 posts are tagged on Instagram. From joyful selfies with friends to success stories or even an outfit of the day, young Black men have taken it upon themselves to create their own space for representation and for the positive recognition they feel they don’t get enough. 

Since then, artists and photographers have also been joining the conversation by artistically challenging the way black masculinity is often presented. In an interview with Buzzfeed, photographer Jabari Jacobs describes #BlackBoyJoy as “progressive and forward” and a much needed narrative, as “it is important that we’re understood and appreciated.” 

It is important for industry and corporations to step up and take responsibility to create fairer representation across the spectrum. Projects and organic social media movements such as #BlackBoyJoy has set a precedent and a realistic image of how a community should be heard, an expression of comfort in the absence of activism. 

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Photography Paulina Tuziak

Stylist Asma Elmi 

Words by Mariyah Zaman