As an avid writer and illustrator, it is to be expected that creativity that is significant to the way that I think. However, as a young black woman, creativity takes on a different perspective. Often times, creativity takes on a different meaning in the black community. I find that more often than not, creative black individuals are pegged odd. Sometimes, black expression of creativity doesn’t hold the same values as other forms. Creativity is prevalent in the black community, even though it is often misconstrued. There could be a plethora of reasons why this may be the case. Could it be that black creativity is misunderstood? Are the ways that black people chose to express their creativity viewed in a positive light? And finally, is this a problem that can be fixed; if it is one at all?
My first topic that I want to focus on is whether black individuals are creative are also misunderstood. An example of this can be clearly seen in several different black celebrities. The examples that I want to use are Willow and Jaden Smith and how the general public views the young celebrities. It is no question that the internet has had plenty of jokes aimed at the two, given how against the grain the two of them tend to be; from the memes of his pseudo philosophical tweets, to articles disparaging Will and Jayda’s parenting based on the young celebrities. Both of the young Smiths can be seen sporting different hairstyles and clothes. Even their lyrics tend to stray from what is the norm. In a New York Post article written by Kyle Smith, it was stated that Jaden and Willow’s actions and appearances were shameful; even going as far as to title their article “Any reasonable Parent would be Ashamed of Will Smith’s Kids”. But why the negativity? I believe that it is safe to say that we as a society are unaccustomed to seeing black celebrities in such an eclectic light. It’s not just black celebrities who deal with this type of view. I myself am often viewed as eclectic and strange. This normally stems from the fact that I don’t fit the stereotype of how black people should express themselves. It’s often times that when black people don’t follow a stereotype, then they are pegged with the stigma of “not being black enough” or being “too white”. But what about what is a part of black creativity?
It’s not surprise that there is a level of creativity that is often credited to black individuals. But how is it viewed by the general public? Often, it’s not in a very good light. This can be seen in how the public reacts to “black music”. Though rap is very mainstream, it hasn’t been able to shake its negative stigma. Rap is often viewed as glorifying drugs and violence as well as degrading women. As I stated before, black individuals who are creative are often misunderstood. Could the same be said for black expressions of creativity?
“Studies of African American creativity is often center on the vernacular. The black vernacular tradition is primarily associated with the production or performance of music, dance, literature, visual art and sport.”
Rayvon Fouche. Say it Loud, I’m Black and I’m Proud: African Americans, American Artifactual Culture and Black Vernacular Technological Creativity. Scholarly Journals 2006: 641- 644
This article focused on how black creativity is expressed and how the disconnect is often formed. This will help me answer whether this is a problem that can be fixed.
My final question is how can this problem be fixed, if it even is one at all? One way is to get an understanding of black expressions of creativity. Fouche brought up the fact that there is often a “dislocation of race and racism”. It’s often that media tends to address black creativity in a more negative light. A way to change the apprehension to different forms of creativity would also to have a less backlash for black people who chose to express their creativity differently. As I stated before, the Smith children are often used as the butt of peoples’ jokes. Instead, if modern media were more willing to accept their more eclectic personalities, it would make room for creative acceptance amongst other black individuals.
This is a topic that was important to me. As a black woman, I see the stigmas that are placed on me. I like the idea of my form of creativity being accepted as it would for my peers. Hopefully, this will help people get a new and more positive perspective on black creativity.