Why ‘My Black Is Beautiful' Is On A Mission To 'Redefine Black’
The initiative seeks to shed a positive light on blackness and its beauty.
Black is bold, Black is powerful, and most importantly, Black is beautiful.
Historically, the term ‘Black' has had a negative connotation dating back to slavery and the Jim Crow era. Even to this day, dictionaries often associate ‘Black’ with harmful and offensive words linked to unattractiveness and inferiority, due to the impact of oppression and white supremacy. Due to these historical powers of oppression, blackness and beauty were never correlated, but now is the time to change that.
My Black Is Beautiful (MBIB) is taking steps to help promote positive perceptions of blackness through its #RedefineBlack movement. The goal is to spark meaningful dialogue, and the first step is to challenge all dictionaries to update the entry of the word ‘Black’ to reflect what is true about how we see ourselves - Black is Beautiful.
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In partnership with DoSomething.org and actress-singer, Naturi Naughton, the campaign will shed a new light on the positive beauty and culture within blackness and change the way people classify the term. The movement is catching on. Merriam-Webster dictionary has updated their definition of ‘Black’ and Dictionary.com has even agreed to change their definition of Black to raise awareness and challenge other dictionaries to do the same. Words can have a powerful impact on how we feel, how we view ourselves, and how we view others.
"We need to move away from the biased and negative terminology that is often associated with Blackness. These associations can diminish the joy and magic within us all,” said Dr. Yaba Blay, professor at North Carolina Central University, who specializes in Black racial and cultural identities. “Ultimately, we should not have to justify or explain our Blackness to reach a common understanding. This is us, and we are vast and diverse.”
Through #RedefineBlack, My Black Is Beautiful wants to spark a meaningful dialogue to help people understand that Black isn’t an individual term or identity. Black identity is rich, and varied based on the differences in cultural, ethnic and regional backgrounds. Yet, we are all brought together by similar experiences. That’s what makes being Black so beautiful, not only within the U.S., but across the globe.
The new wave of Black empowerment has been so refreshing to the culture, especially since blackness hasn’t fully been celebrated in America. Black people are coming together to change the negative outlooks of how society determines beauty, through unity and pride.
That’s why it’s important to let our voices be heard and share our own positive definitions of blackness by being Black and proud.
There’s work to be done. The dictionary updates that My Black Is Beautiful has advocated for through #RedefineBlack include:
Prioritizing the ranking of ‘Black’ as it relates to identity and skin color, driving visual and semantic distance between Black identity and the association with something that is evil, soiled or stained.
Updating the references/example usage of ‘Black’ to reflect the phrases that Black people use to identify themselves (i.e., Black is beautiful).
Capitalizing ‘Black’ when referring to people.
Words matter. Get involved and #RedefineBlack!