Saturday, February 10, 2018

General Information About & Descriptions Of #BlackMenSmiling & Related Hashtags

Edited by Azizi Powell

Latest revision: February 11, 2018

This is the third post in a four part pancocojams series that explores the history, purposes, and content of the viral #BlackMenSmiling hashtag and related hashtags.

This pancocojams's series on #BlackMenSmiling and its related hashtags seeks to provide some context to the viral #BlackMenSmiling hashtag which trended #1 on Twitter on February 2, 2018 and according to Twitter ratings, remained strong several days after that.

This pancocojams series also provides some corrections to repeatedly cited statements about that hashtag, In addition, this pancocojams series documents selected [text only] tweets from those hashtags for historical and socio-cultural purposes.

This post provides general information about #BlackMenSmiling, #blackmensmiles, #BlackMenSmilling, and #BlackWomenSmiling with a focus on the purposes of those hashtags.

As documented by this pancocojams compilation, some bloggers consider these "Black smiling" twitter pages as a non-competitive presentation of photographs of Black men, and/or Black women, and/Black children, as well as photographs of famous Black people. Other bloggers appear to approach these "Black smiling" twitter threads to be a competition (challenge. contest) for the best smile.

Also, some bloggers seem to think that these "Black smiling" hashtags are only a trend and/or a time limited event such as part of the observation of Black History month. But, other bloggers appear to consider these hashtags as a part of an ongoing movement or mission to change the way that Black people view themselves, individually and collectively.

Click for Part I of this series. Part I presents three spoken word/musical interpretations of Paul Laurence Dunbar's 1896 poem "We Wear The Mask". The Addendum to Part I presents an early 20th century quote about "smiling, acquiescent black people, & a 2006 quote about Black men using smiles as a survival strategy.

Click for Part II of this series. Part II presents information about #BlackMenSmiling and #BlackMenSmile prior to February 2, 2018 when the #Blackmensmiling hashtag went viral and trended to #1 on Twitter. The Addendum to this post presents a few post-February 2, 2018 #BlackMenSmile.

Click for Part IV of this series. Part IV presents selected (text only) examples of tweets from #BlackMenSmiling, #BlackMenSmilling, and #BlackWomenSmiling.

The content of this post is presented for historical, socio-cultural, and aesthetic purposes.

All copyrights remain with their owners.

Thanks to the person/s who created the #BlackMenSmiling hashtag,and thank to Dennis Banks (aka @Felonious_munk) for reactivating #BlackMenSmiling on February 2, 2018. Thanks also to the person/s who created #BlackMenSmilling and the person/s who created #BlackWomenSmiling. Thanks to all those who have posted tweets, and embedded photographs, GIFs, and videos on those twitter threads, and thanks to Black Men Smile™'s co-creators Carlton Mackey and Devan Dmarcus Dunson and the men who are featured in the Black Men Smile™ video that is embedded in this post.

The hashtag #Blackmensmiling trended to #1 on Twitter on February 2, 2018 and remained strong (according to Twitter's ratings) for some days after that.

Contrary to the articles that have been published about #Blackmensmiling since it trended to #1 on Twitter on February 2, 2018, that hashtag wasn't created on that date by African American comedian Dennis Banks (aka @Felonious_munk). That said, New York comedian Dennis Banks should rightfully be credited with sparking the viral outpouring of tweets (with photographs, GIFs, and videos) that resulted in #Blackmensmiling hashtag going viral on February 2, 2018 and remaining strong (according to Twitter ratings) for some days afterwards.

I'm not sure who created the #Blackmensmiling hashtag, but the earliest tweet that I've found for that hashtag was posted on Oct 12, 2013:

Oct 12, 2013
#BlackMenSmiling @mxh365
WARNING: Tomauro's twitter page includes a lot of cursing and sexually explicit references. #Blackmensmiling doesn't contain that type of content.
Here's an excerpt from one of several articles about #Blackmensmiling hashtag going viral on February 2, 2018:
BLACK VOICES 02/05/2018 07:10 pm ET
Twitter Celebrates Black Boy Joy With #BlackMenSmiling Hashtag
Carefree blackness fit for Black History Month. By Princess-India Alexander
"Black boy joy is always a mood. And if you ever questioned that, the #BlackMenSmiling hashtag is here to show you the light.

The hashtag began to pop up on Friday and kept gaining momentum over the weekend. Twitter users celebrated carefree blackness as they shared pictures of themselves living their best and blackest lives.

In the process, black men and boys reclaimed their own narratives and challenged stereotypes. This hashtag underscores the humanity in black boys, who are often seen as aggressors or threats.

The trend spilled into Monday ― Trayvon Martin’s birthday ― and offered some relief as the black community recalled the teen’s senseless death in 2012, which helped spark the Black Lives Matter movement.

Amid Black History Month celebrations and the continuous fight to dismantle black hypermasculinity, this hashtag continues to focus on the glory of blackness."
Here's Dennis Bank's tweet that kickstarted #Blackmensmiling's viral trending:

Ra'sclat Al Ghul

Today let's share some pics of #BlackMenSmiling. Like big goofy smiles. Happy (even if just for a moment) with life smiles. Normalize happy. #BlackHistoryMonth where your teeth at?

11:09 AM - Feb 2, 2018
Quoting from another article about that hashtag, "#BlackMenSmiling Is the Most Beautiful Thing on Twitter Right Now—and It’s Trending Worldwide" by Monique Judge, 2/02/18 8:15pm
"Banks later explained to another tweeter that he started the hashtag because he noticed that he rarely smiled in photos, even if he was happy. “Just sharing joy in bhm [sic],” he wrote. “Doesn’t invalidate black pain. Isn’t an attempt at being accepted or disproving anything.

“If nothing else #BlackMenSmiling is opening my eyes to how rare it is to catch a Black man smiling on camera. It’s like we can’t leave evidence of our happiness,” Banks added."..


Black Men Smile™ was created by Carlton Mackey and Devan Dmarcus Dunson in September 2014, one month after eighteen year old Michael Brown was murdered in Ferguson, Missouri. Black Men Smile™ can be considered a movement. It's co-directors travel throughout the United States, asking Black men "What makes you smile?" and photographing Black men smiling.

Black Men Smile™ has a website, an instagram page, a Facebook page, and a twitter hashtag: Black Men Smile™ also has several YouTube video, including this one from 2016:

Black Men Smile

BLACK MEN SMILE Published on Aug 7, 2016

Black Men Smile because we love ourselves. This platform is about radical expressions of self love. It is about resistance. It is about learning from each other. It is about encouraging one another. It is about transcending. It is about defying gravity, as our ancestors have always done, and leaving a legacy so that generations after us may do the same. During these times when so many stories being told about us, we will need those we tell about ourselves to be our real truth.

Your support helps with the production of a feature length documentary film, a 10 city empowerment tour, capturing portraits of over 5000 Black men, and the creation of an accompanying educational curriculum and movie discussion guide.
Unlike #blackmensmiling, #Blackmensmiling, and #Blackwomensmiling, #blackmensmile has fewer photographs of Black people, especially in pre-February 2, 2018 tweets. Most of the early (2014-2016) #blackmensmile tweets have links to that organization's instagram page and any photographs might be found on those pages.

#blackmensmile may help explain why a number of contributors to that hashtag and to #Blackmensmiling and #Blackwomensmiling refer to their posting tweets with photographs as "joining a movement" and "doing this for the culture".


#Blackmensmilling started later on Feb 2, 2018. That hashtag can be considered a “knockoff” version of #Blackmensmiling. I'm not sure who created #Blackmensmilling or why it was created.

Like #BlackMenSmiling, the #BlackMenSmilling tweets from men usually consist of a brief comment and one embedded photograph or a box of four or three embedded photographs. With the exception of tweets honoring famous Black men, almost all of the tweets on #BlackMenSmilling and #BlackMenSmiling include embedded photographs of smiling Black men in their twenties. Among the embedded photographs of smiling famous Black men are President Barack Obama, Malcolm x, Martin Luther King Jr., Nelson Mandela, Idris Elba, Trayvon Martin, Emmitt Till, Michael Jackson, Tupac, Michael B. Jordan, and Chadwick Boseman.

Both #BlackMensmilling and #BlackMensmiling have a significant number of tweets from Black women, including women tweeting photographs of their male friends or their husband.

The tweets from women on #BlackMensmilling and #BlackmenSmiling these tweets usually include a GIF or, less often, a video. Almost all of these tweets from women praise the concept of #Blackmensmilling/#Blackmensmiling and/or gush over specific tweets and their embedded photographs, often in a humorous manner. However, a few #Blackmensmilling tweets are critical of #Blackwomensmiling as the commenters consider that hashtag as taking the focus away from Black men.

A significant number of tweets (with embedded photographs) on #BlackMenSmilling are from outside of the United States. My unofficial study of this hashtag is that the highest number of non-United States tweets are from Sudan (I was surprised at that.) Other non-United States tweets on #BlackMenSmilling, #BlackMenSmiling, and/or #blackwomensmiling from South Africa, Ghana, Zambia, Jamaica, England (United Kingdom), Canada, Morocco, France, and United Arab Emirates. There are also tweets from people living in the United States who are from Eritrea, and Nigeria. In addition, particularly in #blackwomensmiling, there are a number of tweets from people whose twitter page include Arabic writing.
My apologies if I inadvertently failed to list the name of any non-United States nation with tweets to these hashtags.

Neither #BlackMenSmilling nor #BlackMenSmiling have political posts other than embedded photos honoring President Barack Obama.

These "Black smiling" hashtags have very few racist comments or stereotypical photographs. The lack of negative stereotypical tweets from White people or others suggests that the creators or curators of these hashtags have deleted/are deleting negative tweets.

Here's one response to the only negative tweet that I've found on #BlackmenSmilling:

Feb 3
It exists because Black Men are stereotyped as cold, brutish, aggressive, and all other forms of negativity. The #BlackMenSmilling exists to show that we can be seen as happy, warm, friendly, etc... like other races are seen. Try asking questions instead of making assumptions.
Fallon Fireblade πŸ”₯
So let's talk about the #BlackMenSmiling hashtag.
You don't want racism and everybody is supposed to be equal but you want to bring up someone's race all the time.
As a white person, I don't want to see #WhiteMenSmiling either. B/C get this - I don't care about someone's race!
Perhaps because I'm not on Twitter, it's difficult for me to understand how tweets are organized on those pages. Even more than the #Blackmensmiling or #blackmensmile twitter pages, I'm confused about how tweets are presented on the #blackmensmilling twitter page. Are tweets given with the oldest date last and the most recent tweets first? Are tweets with the most "likes" and/or "retweets" presented before other tweets? I don't know. But, this tweet appears to be pinned to the top of #Blackmensmiling's twitter page:

YT: Chinny Okafor
This #BlackMenSmilling movement is dangerous. You can’t look at too many tweets. It’s akekeke until you find yourself in his DMs talmabout some “hey boo”. nope. I rebuke it. Read your Bible sis. πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚
7:14 PM · Feb 3, 2018
Chinny Okafor is a female of Nigeria descent who lives in the United States. The tweet given above is tongue-in-cheek. "Akekeke" means "laughable". That word is used outside of the United States and is usually given as "kkk". "Talmabout" is an African American Vernacular English term that means "talkin about". "DM" = internet "direct message" (where no one but the person receiving the message can read what is sent) and "boo" is an affectionate term for a male or a female.

While most of the people tweeting on #BlackMenSmilling are Black Americans, a significant number of tweets on that hashtag come from outside of the United States. Although there are some non-United States tweets on #Blackmensmiling, it appears to me to that #BlackMenSmilling has more non-United States tweets and #blackmensmile has few if any tweets from outside of the United States.

I've read tweets from Black men and Black women on #BlackMenSmilling from Sudan, Ghana, Nigeria, South Africa, and Zambia. (My apologies if I've failed to mention tweets from people in other African nations). In addition, #BlackMenSmilling has at least one tweet from Black people from Jamaica, a few tweets from Black Canadians, Black people from England, and Black people from France.

I've noticed that a few tweets that appear on #BlackMenSmiling also appear on #BlackMenSmilling, but I don't know which hashtag those tweets were posted to first.

[Pancocojams Editor's note: I spent much less time reading the tweets in this hashtag than I did reading the tweets in #BlackMenSmiling, #BlackMenSmiling, and #blackmensmile. As a result I may have overlooked some categories of tweets on #BlackWomenSmiling. My apologies.]

#blackwomensmiling was created in the evening of February 2, 2018.

Here are two tweets (among others) from #blackwomensmiling's twitter page that suggest that someone create that hashtag: [I don't understand how these tweets-and others like them- could have been posted before the hashtag was created.]

Valentine's day πŸ˜πŸ’œ
Do they have a #BlackWomenSmiling .? If not we need to start that
4:40 PM · Feb 2, 2018

Hmmm #BlackMenSmiling πŸ‘ŒπŸΎwho finna to get #blackwomensmiling trendingπŸ’πŸ½‍♀️ ? somebody about to get chose this #valentinesday πŸ’•
6:23 PM · Feb 2, 2018
"finna" is an African American Vernacular English term that means "getting reading to", That would is also given as "fixing to".

Brianna D

Feb 2 [2018]
We have now started #BlackWomenSmiling
Brianna D
So far we’ve had #Tweetlikethe1600s #Tweetlikethe2000s #MillennialNegroSpirituals and now #BlackMenSmiling .... #BlackHistoryMonth is lit! (link:
6:11 PM · Feb 2, 2018
with GIF of Will Smith’s television show’s father, mother, and one of his sisters doing Black power salute [Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air]
A few tweets from Black women and from Black men were critical of the idea of creating a BlackWomenSmiling hashtag. Here's an example of that position:
Emily Nixon

Feb 2 [2018]
#BlackWomenSmiling Please don't. We always have tomorrow. Let's wash in the beauty of #BlackMenSmiling and give them something to look forward to....
The majority of #BlackWomensmiling tweets are from Black people in the United States. However, that hashtag also includes some tweets from Black women outside of the United States as well as tweets from a number of Black women in the United States and elsewhere with head scarves whose twitter pages include writing in Arabic.

In contrast to the number of women posting tweets on #BlackMenSmiling and #BlackMenSmilling, it appeared to me that only a few men posted tweets on #BlackWomenSmiling. Also, I don't recall reading any tweets that honored famous Black women.

As was the case on #BlackMenSmiling, #BlackMenSmiling, almost all of the women posting tweets with embedded photographs on #BlackWomenSmiling are attractive women in their twenties.
Visit Part IV of this pancocojams series for selected examples of text only tweets (without embedded photographs, GIFS, or videos) from all of these hashtags.

UPDATE: February 11, 2018
I just became aware that there is a #BlackgirlsSmiling hashtag which appears to have been created on February 4, 2018.

The #BlackgirlsSmiling tweets are similar or the same as the tweets that are found on #blackwomensmiling.

I've added a few tweets from #BlackgirlsSmiling to category "i" in Part IV of this pancocojams series ("Tweets That Feature Photographs Of Black Boys Or Black Girls".)

I also learned that there is an organization called Black Girl Smiles, Inc. which was formed in 2012 The hashtag for this organization has different content than the "Black smiling" hashtags

This concludes Part III of this pancocojams series.

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