Revolution and Chicken Sandwiches: Why Policing Black Joy is Toxic

Over the last few days- the last few weeks or so we have all been a part of witnessing a phenomenon. No- that phenomenon is not the Popeyes and Chick-fil-A chicken sandwich wars; but, that is a proximate cause of the conversation. The phenomenon is the power of black joy, black culture, and black influence and how that has manifested itself in the way these products have been discussed. There is an obvious correlation between the conversations in the social media universe and the $23 million in sales Popeyes has seen within the last month. There is a clear direct result of how the restaurant has benefitted from the fervor sparked by black conversation and wit.

We Know and have known always that Black Culture steers culture. Period.

As “black twitter” has always done so masterfully, some have utilized the opportunity as a way to inject humor into the conversation while others have used the conversation as an informative and constructive way to broaden the discussion about fast food worker’s rights and what should be owed to them. I was refreshed to see my friends discussing the “Fight for $15” ($15 an hour wages for fast food workers) and how Popeye’s success and the lines and the demand highlighted the need to pay fast food workers more for their labor.

An exhausted Popeyes Worker takes a break.

As time passed, I then began to see a new theme. A theme that often seems to rear its head when black people are clearly having too much fun with something in their presence… The Distraction Police. The Distraction Police can only be described as muth folks who have taken it upon themselves to decide when, where, why, and how – black folks must exist as a collective in order to succeed and that shit must include absolutely NO Fun, NO Joy, NO multitasking. For the Distraction Police- it is virtually impossible for someone to be both Black and Happy at the same damn time.

You can often Identify the Distraction Police through tweets and facebook statuses and instagram posts that start with things like “WHILE Y’ALL ARE ALL OUT THERE… (Insert some fun shit that black people do here) You could be (insert some shit that literally every black person that wakes up black everyday is aware of and doesn’t stop being aware of ever)”.

Being Black is already hard as fuck. We get policed DAILY in our real lives and on social media by facebook, instagram, and twitters community standards – So when we can’t exist ourselves it becomes a hell of a drag. Look if someone wants to eat sea moss everyday for the rest of their lives- I’m gonna let them live – Imma get me a spicy chicken sandwich every once in a while though and expect that same energy, ya heard me?

“Is that Ni*%a Over there Having Fun? Y’all Excuse me one Moment!”

As I woke up this morning, a simple thought came to me. I posted the thought on twitter and facebook.

That tweet then suddenly became a stream of consciousness conversation to the distraction police and to anyone who has taken issue with our love for simply not just being broken in spirit because we exist here. Rather than draw that out any longer: I’ll share my thoughts here with all of you below to do with as you wish:

Policing Black Joy is Toxic. Most of the people that I see taking it upon themselves to police black joy- are people I have NEVER seen putting in WORK for Black people. If you got time and are going to give ANY energy -make it count- save your critiques & think pieces for how other folks DO blackness. Some folks ain’t prepared to RIDE with the same vigor they type with & ain’t prepared to fight SYSTEMS with the same mouths they chastise us with. Until Your energy matches your statuses, tweets, & essays… you can keep that shit.

If, in fact, there’s a “talented 10th” -the most important thing those who have been privileged enough to have access to educational, economic, & social opportunities can do-is not unilaterally DECIDE what is BEST FOR the 90 percent without intently seeking the 90s input. Shepards are servants & one of their most important duties is REMEMBERING that.

Don’t ever be embarrassed by brands of blackness of which whiteness may not approve- our existence nor our thriving is couched upon the premise that white comfort is to be undisturbed by our mere BEING. Moreover, don’t become the overseer assuring our acquiescence to conditions That perpetuate those systems – when rejection of those systems & the underlying implications of what could follow- makes you fearful of what a world that is not dictated by “rules” rooted in white supremacy might actually become. There is no correct or uniform way to DO blackness and so to attempt to police blackness in such a way that it is limiting how we SHOULD exist when that existence is not infringing upon others- is anti-black, anti-being, & anti-survival. It is the further marginalization of the already overly-marganalized. When black people cant exist freely & joyfully in black spaces- that we ourselves have created- for ourselves to exist freely- to the extent that we can as though we don’t know what exists beyond these “walls”.

Black Joy is not distraction. It is BREATHING in a place that has choked life from us since our arrival. Hope is not losing focus on present struggles of the black condition- It is finding community in the rubble of an empire built upon the backs of our ancestors to perpetually relegate their descendants to THEIR PLACE. We know chicken sandwiches are not how the revolution is won- but Black Joy- in any form- Is revolutionary.

A visual depiction of 2 Black people who express a moment of joy in the form of smiles while simultaneously obviously not being distracted by the ongoing struggles of black people created by systemic oppression.

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