As a Black woman in America, I can admit that I am exhausted. I am not the kind of exhausted that can be relieved by a hot bath and a good night’s sleep. I am emotionally exhausted. I have witnessed the deaths of countless men and women whose lives were cut short for no reason other than the color of their skin or their sexual orientation. I have seen legislation meant to give rights to marginalized people challenged and repealed. I have experienced racism, discrimination, marginalization, and microaggressions. I have been dismissed, reduced to tropes, and chastised.
For this reason, I do not feel the need to relive Black trauma for entertainment’s sake. I do not condemn or judge Black people who enjoy period pieces or stories that recount Black history, but I personally have seen and read enough to last my lifetime. On the heels of watching the beating of Tyre Nichols by police officers that led to his ultimately death, I made the mistake of watching a movie at home that addressed the perils of an interracial couple trying to unite their families from vastly different backgrounds. I have tried watching other shows—I chose one that was a remake of a movie that I used to love which took place in the 50s and the Black main character was subjected to discrimination due to their race and gender; the other was a time traveling story where the main character found herself in the past on a plantation. It was like I couldn’t escape it, so I turned the tv off. I recognized that, as an individual, I did not have the bandwidth to process that movie or those shows without reliving trauma.
For this reason, I caution employers that lean on their Black employees for information, guidance, and advice related to diversity, equity, and inclusion. It cannot be assumed that a Black employee is willing or even able to address the societal issues that are impacting them. Ask first and do not assume that consent to discuss one topic is blanket consent to be the go-to for all things pertaining to Black folk. What that Black employee may not convey to non-Black coworkers is that it is near impossible to discuss these topics devoid of emotional labor.
If you are like me in any way and desire to steer away from reliving Black trauma repeatedly in media and entertainment, consider reading books or watching movies that focus on Black joy and Black folks living lives that are not centered on racial trauma.
20 Books That Celebrate Black Joy
10 Books That Center Black Joy
These Black Movies and Shows Highlight Our Joy