BLACK: The Editor's Note
Niq D. Johnson, PhD
For the last few years, Black History Month has brought some of my favorite things to the internet. From Tracey Clayton’s (aka @brokeymcpoverty) “Little Known Black History Facts” to On This Day... momentous reflections, we focus every day of February on celebrations of unmitigated Black joy. Annual hashtags are reborn with a renewed vigilance. Librarians, scholars, activists and history buffs drop knowledge about the resilience and rebellion that sustains our fight for liberation. And we all share in the revelry of Black folks’ ability to survive, thrive, and generally make the most out of the absolute least.
Black LGTBQ+ histories, however, are so often left out of this collective storytelling. The forms of erasure that many of us experience in our daily lives is reproduced at a much grander scale. When we are invited to the party, we face trauma at every turn. There are those who would see us quietly excised from the legacies of civil rights activism as if our social movements were not one and the same. There are others who would rather spend this time debating our humanity as if our concerns have always been a “distraction” from a moral greater good.
We are Black History’s open secret. That little-known, well-known whispered thing among us.
When I first volunteered to guest edit this month’s cover story, BLACK, I knew I’d be engaging with sharp, talented thinkers. Color Bloq has been shaping the digital scene for QPoC interests to take center stage for just over a year now, but this was a moment of risk. It was a chance to carve a little space that Black queer folx could call our own and have full control over how, when, and where our stories would be told. This is no small feat.
The pressure was on.
I really need not have worried because our contributors showed up, and showed out. Together we moved critically through history, the best and the worst of it. We unpacked the complicated truths of living in and out of space. We explored the deeply beautiful creativity that holds our movements and communities together. And now, we invite you to journey with us.
This month’s three Deep Dives remind us of the richness of queer Black experiences. One tackles the complicated notion of diaspora by thinking through who gets in included and on what divisive terms. Another launches a charged criticism of when and where queer lives enter into the archives of History. Through it all, we still find ways to reinvent culture and our feature story shows us what is possible when we turn deeply rooted traumas and exclusions into safe spaces created for our survival.
The Stories of US take a personal detour into the different ways self-image and self-love shape how Black queer folks interact with the world. From unrooting internalized homophobia and misogyny, to learning practices of self-authorship — our contributors share the processes that have helped them make this world a little more welcoming for all of us.
To bring it all home, this month features a special collection of portraits and interviews highlighting the beauty of queer aesthetics and style. And this is only the beginning of an evolving collection you won’t want to miss.
Of course, there is no way that we could cover every aspect of Black queer life and history in just one issue. Even with the best intentions, there are narratives that remain unrepresented; and there are people who go unknown and unnamed. There is work yet to be done to reclaim the losses our communities have endured due to political and cultural violences intended to strike us from memory. But Black queer folks have been here every step of the way and we’re not going anywhere, any time soon. We still have room to grow. So in the spirit of Color Bloq’s 2018 mantra, I say: Let’s Build.