When we see black men represented in TV or films, they're often angry, stern — or even worse — completely emotionless.
We rarely get to see black characters experience emotional arcs that include joy, spontaneity, or anything resembling a care-free moment.
But in reality, we know that's not true. Black men are just as dynamic, hopeful, fun-loving, and happy as the rest of us. They just don't always get the space or opportunity to share those dimensions of their humanity with the world — until now.
The hashtag, #BlackMenSmiling, is the perfect antidote to representations of black men as long-suffering, mean, or cold.
The trend began after a simple request from from comedian @Felonious_Munk.
Today let's share some pics of #BlackMenSmiling. Like big goofy smiles. Happy (even if just for a moment) with life… https://t.co/gvgTDEQrEo— Felonious Munk #ViolenceIsWack 🏁 (@Felonious Munk #ViolenceIsWack 🏁) 1517587796.0
Black men came through with beautiful selfies and carefree moments with friends and family. Women chimed in too, sharing pics of the joyful men and boys in their lives, and the occasional picture of President Barack Obama and Prince too. (Why not?) The results are so simple, and yet so powerful.
1. Black men stepped up to challenge stereotypes and push back on tired tropes.
Everybody say I look mean all the time but I be smiling sometimes #BlackMenSmiling https://t.co/EdNh7sWLNz— мy ѕpaceѕнιp? тнιѕ ιѕ a dodge (@мy ѕpaceѕнιp? тнιѕ ιѕ a dodge) 1517593555.0
2. And improve their corner of the internet, not just for themselves, but for their kids too.
In honor of #BlackMenSmiling trending right now, here’s a pic of me and my oldest son. Enjoy! https://t.co/VK4AWmYIc1— Brian Buggs (@Brian Buggs) 1517591568.0
3. Some of the best submissions came from men who don't usually smile for pictures, but put themselves out there to participate.
4. And the fellas with those perfectly imperfect smiles joined in too.
As they should!
I used to hate my smile, to the point I’d only half smile or smirk, I wouldn’t even show my teeth, but over time I… https://t.co/F4qadZJ3iC— lightskinshakespeare (@lightskinshakespeare) 1517592256.0
5. A few men have been waiting on this hashtag for years.
They were born ready!
i been practicing for this hashtag forever moe #BlackMenSmiling https://t.co/E9w2SAHls9— Tony T (@Tony T) 1517596676.0
6. For some, it took a little digging to find a photo with a smile.
Which is only motivation to smile more.
So #BlackMenSmiling is a thing? Y’all don’t know how long it took me to find a picture of me smiling because it’s… https://t.co/EfflhINK4N— 🇹🇹👑 Vince Rogers Nelson💜🧸🇵🇦 (@🇹🇹👑 Vince Rogers Nelson💜🧸🇵🇦) 1517589500.0
7. Because there's so much for black men to smile about.
#BlackMenSmiling because we are kings! https://t.co/iBdYazmH8K— BigKnowledgeChris (@BigKnowledgeChris) 1517591572.0
8. From life's biggest moments ...
#BlackMenSmiling https://t.co/EyTn8vGVM5— Kal Jharon (@Kal Jharon) 1517595407.0
9. ... to the little things that make an ordinary day extraordinary.
#BlackMenSmiling is an awesome HT https://t.co/QTUXJrO81E— Jim Barrows (@Jim Barrows) 1517596488.0
10. This hashtag is a celebration of black men.
Aye I fit the qualifications for this one.... shout outs to my orthodontist!😁 #BlackMenSmiling https://t.co/zuu2n5qbyP— NYG Messiah #MHG (@NYG Messiah #MHG) 1517596174.0
11. And a beautiful portrait of the well-rounded, joyful, people we know and love.
#BlackMenSmiling We’re not all scowls and mean mugs! https://t.co/iFsI6exx42— The Cleveland Guy (Hudson’s Dad) (@The Cleveland Guy (Hudson’s Dad)) 1517594742.0
#BlackMenSmiling is more than a throwaway hashtag, it's an act of resistance.
It often feels like we live in a country that doesn't want to see black men healthy, successful, and happy. They're considered a threat when they're driving in cars, walking into their own homes, or even playing outside. It would be easy to shut down, to be mad at the world. But they don't.
So every grin, every toothy smile, every bright eye and cheerful dimple is an act of resistance. You can't dim a black man's shine. You cannot tame his spirit or claim his joy. Not today, not ever.
And sometimes, you just need a hashtag to remind the world of that.