Kwambe Mbalia’s famous term “black boy joy” isn’t just a hashtag. There’s a whole revolution currently exploding across the internet because of the phrase.
Over the last week, videos of Black men frolicking in open fields around the United States have gone viral on TikTok. Happy participants can be seen, jumping, rolling, and skipping in open fields as they smile at the camera.
No one is quite sure why the trend has taken off, but one thing is for sure: This is the content we need right now.
For Black men, in particular, this time of pure joy and bliss is imperative and long overdue.
The Black Boy Joy trend is a reminder that Black men deserve to be happy in a world that constantly denies them the right to be. They deserve to unapologetically be themselves, not what society often pushes on them to become. It’s a breath of fresh air to see Black men being carefree and they deserve it for several reasons.
Combats against stereotypes in media
For years, the media has done a horrific job of showcasing Black men at their best. They’re often portrayed as perpetrators of violence and crime on screen and in music and the negative image that can lead to real-world consequences for Black men.
The NAACP notes that Black men are twice as likely to be stopped without just cause by police and they are more likely to become incarcerated at five times the rate than white Americans, according to the Sentencing Project.
The media’s distorted portrayal of Black men can lead to dangerous public assumptions and omits the wealth of positive stories and imagery that’s out there.
There are Black men who are leaders, innovators, and cultural shifters, but this imagery becomes skewed and weakened amongst the Black male criminality narrative. We have to change it, and the frolicking trend brings us what step closer to that goal.
Black men are disproportionately impacted by the mental health crisis. Due to social and economic factors, African Americans are 20 percent more likely to experience serious psychological distress, such as major depressive disorder, according to the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities.
The uptick in police brutality cases and violence inflicted upon the Black community members only adds to the problem.
It’s beautiful to see Black men being expressive and vulnerable in the way that sometimes society hasn’t always allowed them to be.
Studies show some Black men may not be as open to discussing their mental health issues with a licensed therapist out of fear of embarrassment or being deemed sensitive. Those who do seek help may feel more comfortable speaking to a same-race provider, but finding a Black psychologist can be difficult as they only make up 4 percent of the doctoral-level psychology workforce, according to the American Psychological Association. Services can be expensive and most aren’t covered by insurance.
Frolicking can act as a form of mental clarity. It’s fun and it can help Black men to reconnect to some of the important aspects of their lives. Being in nature may also act as a healing agent from some of the hardships that are often placed upon them.
Everyone could use a bit of happiness online right now
Our social media feeds have been cluttered with devastation after devastation from the never-ending pandemic to multiple mass shootings. Seeing all of the gleeful and smiling faces popping up across the internet serves as a reprieve from some of the sadness in the world.