You can’t escape it. Black culture has come to dominate the mainstream. From music and fashion to film and television, Black artists have had a profound influence on popular culture. Take a look around you right now. Turn on NetFlix or open up Spotify. You’ll see (and hear) what we mean. You’re surrounded by Black culture whether you realize it or not.
It’s not just a passing trend. This is a cultural force of gravity that constantly redefines what is cool and hip toward the Black experience.
Of course, the rise of Black Lives Matter movement has helped bring Blackness into sharp focus not only in America, but globally. But the truth is we always dominate any society we live in; from the ancient Arab world to the contemporary Western world. There are many reasons for our dominance, but one of the most important is that we simply produce better art. We have always been at the forefront of creating new trends and styles in music, fashion, and other areas. And as peoples around the world are exposed to Black culture, the youth of those people naturally gravitate towards it and absorb it like a sponge.
It’s not just that we’re cool, either. We also have a lot to offer in terms of substance and depth. Our art is often rooted in our experience as Black people, which gives it a unique perspective that resonates with many people from different backgrounds.
So embrace the Blackness, because it’s here to stay. Don’t believe me? Let’s go on a journey of discovery.
Little did the plantation owner know that the slave songs he heard coming from the cotton field would one day snake their way through history and eventually become the foundation of global music culture. Any chart, in any music will be full of Black artists like Drake, Rihanna, Kendrick Lamar, and Beyonce.
It all started with the African griots (West African historian/storyteller/poet/musician) who kept the history and culture of their people alive through song. When slaves were brought to the Americas, they were forced to give up their native tongue and adopt English. But they found a way to keep their history and culture alive by infusing it into the music they created.
The blues, jazz, rock, hip-hop, and R&B were all born out of this vibrant Black culture, and these genre have gone on to shape and dominate the music industry in its entirety.
The fashion industry has long been dominated by European designers, particularly from France and Italy, but that is slowly changing. Black designers are finally getting the recognition they deserve, and they are quickly becoming some of the most sought-after names in the industry.
Fashion icons like Beyonce, Rihanna, and Nicki Minaj are helping to lead the charge when it comes to mainstream acceptance of Black culture in fashion. They are constantly pushing boundaries and redefining what it means to be stylish.
Designers like Dapper Dan and Pyer Moss are also making waves in the industry with their unique take on streetwear. And brands like Fenty Beauty by Rihanna are changing the beauty game by catering to a more diverse range of skin tones. It is safe to say that Black culture is having a major moment in fashion right now, and there is no sign of this trend slowing down anytime soon.
Black athletes began to dominate in the early 20th century when pioneers like Jesse Owens who proved that Blacks could compete at the highest levels of sport despite facing racism and discrimination both inside and outside of athletics.
Jackie Robinson would later break baseball’s color barrier which paved the way for other great Black athletes like Hank Aaron, Muhammad Ali, Serena Williams, LeBron James, etc., who would all go on dominate their respective fields while also inspiring future generations along the way.
Today, Blacks make up the majority of players in the NBA and NFL, and they are also some of the most popular athletes in the world. It is safe to say that Black culture dominates when it comes to sports.
Film & Television
More and more Black-led films are being made each year, telling stories that are reflective of the diverse experiences within the Black community. Films like Get Out, Moonlight, and Black Panther were all critical and commercial successes which proved that audiences are crying out for more Black on their screens, big and small.
Television has also seen a rise in Black-led shows such as Insecure, Atlanta, and Black-ish. These shows offer a much needed dose of relatability for Black viewers who often feel underrepresented on television. The success of these shows proves that there is a demand for more diversity both behind and in front of the camera, so hopefully we will see even more progress in this area moving forward.
Black culture has had a significant impact on the English language, particularly in terms of slang and vernacular. Words like “cool”, “jive”, and “dig it” all have their origins in Black culture. Even common phrases like “That’s what’s up!” and “I feel you” can be traced back to can be traced back to African-American Vernacular English.
The way we speak today has been heavily influenced by Black culture, whether we realize it or not. So next time you use some common slang, remember that it wouldn’t exist without the contributions of Black culture.
Despite being such incredible cultural influencers, Black artists have long been overlooked and undervalued in the art world. But in recent years there has been a renewed interest in Black-led exhibitions and collections — particularly those focused on African-American history and culture. This increased visibility has helped to shine a light on the immense talent that exists within the Black community, and it is slowly but surely changing the landscape of the art world for the better.
Some of today’s most popular Black artists include Kehinde Wiley, Kerry James Marshall, Kara Walker, Wangechi Mutu, Hank Willis Thomas, etc. These artists are helping to redefine what it means to be a Black artist in today’s society while also inspiring future generations along the way.