Hands down one of the best and most comforting things to come out of this awful coronavirus crisis and social distancing are Black folks showing just how amazingly creative they are on social media. (Thanks TikTok) While challenges are not new—think last year’s insanely popular #DMXChallenge—since the ‘Rona hit and we can only be 6 feet apart from one another, they seem to be back with a vengeance.
My personal favorite to pop out from the pandemic is the #DontRushChallenge. Brilliantly co-created by @lase_asoloo, this getting ready to go out challenge has provided a unique way for sistas—from MUA to everybody women—to show off our serious glow-up skills. It’s just amazing!
Here’s the iconic video that started it off. Just peep that seamless edit!
Of course, others have followed:
THE BLACK EXCELLENCE OF IT ALL!
Not surprisingly, this trend continues to take off, but one thing that hadn’t initially registered was how regardless of the genre—goth, Muslim, African, etc.—almost all of them featured feminine-looking women. Be clear, that’s not a critique per se, but we do all know that Black women aren’t monolithic. We come in different shades, sexual orientations, gender identifies, shapes, you name it…Black women embody it all. Which is why, thanks to the beloved Angelica Ross who posted a certain video on her Facebook page last week, did it finally hit me: “Oh, this is what’s missing!”
This group’s challenge was dedicated to the androgynous Black lesbians who definitely know how to clean up too. “So y’all wanted one with androgynous women?” Heroes-signed model Nyja Abdullah asked on Twitter.
Yes, I did. Please and thank you.
BEAUTIES: Just take a look at all these Goddesses:
I caught up with Abdullah who told me that after seeing all the other videos on social media, she and her friends, also models, wanted to make one that represented folks like them.
“Like everyone during quarantine, we’re also using social media, so my friend @depthgod added me to do one of these challenges, especially after seeing one with African-American girls who love rock music, but we wanted to do one for people like us” she explained.
“I was instantly I’m like well ‘I’m down’ to create something for us androgynous lesbians and non-binary folks.'”
For Abdullah, she knew that tagging other friends to get them to commit would be the easy part, but the hard part was coming up with the one item that would connect their experiences.
“First, I had never used TikTok before,” the 23-year-old admitted. “Then I was like, so what’s something that we could use or do that would unite us? My mom was like, ‘Your durag!’ But it took us a minute to figure out how to make it work.”
Thankfully, for us, this gorgeous group did figure it out because this is the representation we needed and deserve. But Abdullah sets the records straight: while some may look at them as “stud energy,” that’s not a label they quite accept.
“We talked about what people were going to call us. People might call us ‘studs,’ but none of us would call ourselves that,” she stressed. “For us, we’re women, we don’t want to be men. This is about us being comfortable by dressing as ourselves, bringing out both our masculine and feminine sides. We prefer androgynous.”
It’s not surprising to me that the video went viral with over 33K likes, but none of the women believed this “little thing” they did to make the time go by would have this type of cultural impact.
“We thought this might go viral, like maybe. But we’re just regular people on Twitter, so we didn’t expect too much. But we’re just happy that people liked it and can see themselves in it.”
So what’s next for the group? Abdullah says most of the women, who live in Flordia, New York and New Jersey, have never met in real life and are planning to connect in New York City for LGBTQ Pride—if the quarantine is lifted of course.
“This has been such a great way to make new friends,” she said.
All I can say is thank you, ladies, for providing another stunning and diverse example of what it means to be a Black woman in America. I can’t wait for more of these videos to find their way on my TL.