Please Don’t Forget About Black Joy This Month

We are more than just our trauma

Raven J. James
Published in
5 min readFeb 10, 2021


Two Black women laughing together at the beach.
Photo: Thought Catalog/Unsplash

Another year, another Black History Month.

My place of hire, specifically the diversity and inclusion committee, wants to celebrate Black History Month with a watch party later this month. (Cool, I guess?) They sent out a survey to get our feedback on what movie we should watch. The options included selections like the highly anticipated Judas and the Black Messiah, Ava DuVernay’s exceptional 13th, Selma, and Just Mercy.

Honestly, I don’t know who is going to want to “celebrate” Black History Month by attending a virtual watch party with their co-workers on a Friday night. Especially when I know that the old White men (aka the people who should likely see these films the most) aren’t going to bother participating.

Another thing I wanted to know was why they wanted us to choose from those specific films. From this list we have: the tragedy of the deputy chairman of the Black Panther Party, an informative documentary about the disproportionate arrests and imprisonment of Black people, and two somewhat “uplifting” films in where neither one really gets a “happy ending.”

Black trauma: The genre no one wanted

We didn’t have to have such limited options for this watch party. The options are between watching Black people constantly getting their asses kicked, experiencing tragic death, or, better yet, films to set the White audience’s mind at ease and give a false sense of security in “how far we have come.”

Initially, it was nice to see so much Black representation in film in recent years. But I couldn’t help but notice that in a lot of these films, we’re either launched into the times of slavery and segregation, unjust arrests, or just the Black struggle as a whole.

Just this past January on Twitter, there was a thread going around in which people were listing the “Black trauma films you could never watch again” and the number of people hopping on to share was staggering. Some of the more popular films included Fruitvale Station, For Colored Girls, When They See Us, and 12 Years a Slave.



Raven J. James
Writer for

Writer | Entrepreneur | Blogger | Dreamer | Pro-Oxford Comma; Feel free to check out my blog at

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