“Dirty.” “Angry.” “Evil.” These are three words dictionaries still use to define the word “Black.” My Black Is Beautiful – a platform created by a group of visionary Black women – today launched a movement challenging all dictionaries to #RedefineBlack in partnership with DoSomething.org. The commitment and deliberate call for change comes as My Black Is Beautiful re-dedicates its ongoing mission: to spotlight all that is beautiful about Black beauty and culture, as well as transcend bias through promoting a more positive representation of Blackness. A timely movement, the negative associations tied to the word “Black” are pervasive and continue to live through language, as evident in many dictionaries of standard.
“For over a decade, MBIB has inspired change by uplifting Blackness and through honest dialogue about bias. The ‘Redefine Black’ movement tackles the negative associations with the word ‘Black’. Through our experience, we know words matter. Our goal is to continue to celebrate and elevate all that is beautiful about Black culture,” said Lela Coffey, Brand Director of Multicultural Beauty at Procter and Gamble. “Naturi Naughton has been unapologetic about her personal Black experience, and we are pleased to announce that she has joined us to ‘Redefine Black’. We look forward to sparking conversation and driving meaningful change with Naturi, and our partnership with DoSomething.org. A move towards progress, today we are also proud that Dictionary.com has agreed to update their definition of ‘Black’, to raise awareness and challenge other dictionaries to follow suit.”
My Black Is Beautiful is not only leading the charge to change the negative perceptions of Black beauty, but also strives to positively change the way that people relate to Blackness. The definitions of the word ‘Black’ and negative associations aren’t just inaccurate, they are also harmful because they fuel what researchers call the “Bad Is Black” effect. This effect shows that when people associate darkness with badness, it causes real-world racial prejudice.
Said Dr. Imani Perry, Hughes-Rogers Professor of African American Studies at Princeton University, “‘Redefine Black’ is a timely movement, and the modern-day challenge is to combat the continued negative associations with Blackness – both historical and contemporary – and to sustain a sense of collective identity in Blackness, while acknowledging the vast diversity in Black America.”
For My Black Is Beautiful, #RedefineBlack is aimed at driving dialogue and meaningful change, with an understanding that “Black” isn’t an individual term or identity. Words can make a powerful impact on how we feel, as well as influence how we are perceived, and how we perceive others.
Said Carrie Bloxson, Chief Marketing Officer, DoSomething.org, “Language shapes the way we see and treat people, and can fuel real-world prejudice and bias. That’s why we’re so proud to partner with My Black is Beautiful on ‘Redefine Black’. By mobilizing young people around this issue, we can change perception and advocate for meaningful change, starting with the words we use.”
#RedefineBlack is not the first time that My Black Is Beautiful is advocating for positive change. In 2017, My Black Is Beautiful led the development of “The Talk” – a film that depicts the conversations Black parents have with their children through the decades, to prepare them for the racial bias they may face in the world. An Emmy-award-winning effort, “The Talk” broadened the conversation about bias by exploring how people from different backgrounds can use listening and dialogue to form a common ground of understanding.
Said Dr. Yaba Blay, professor at North Carolina Central University, specializing in Black racial and cultural identities, “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. 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.”
My Black Is Beautiful seeks to acknowledge and uplift the fabric that weaves together Blackness. While Black identity is vast and varied, despite these differences in cultural, ethnic and regional identities, Black people are often connected through a shared history of perseverance.
Words Matter. Let’s #RedefineBlack. Join the movement at MBIB.com.