The inauguration of Black Joy

Biden who?  

Oh, that’s right. President Joe Biden was inaugurated on Wednesday, but the parade of Black magic stole the show historically, fashionably, poetically. Alla that! 

 It spilled into our homes as Black and brown women slipped on their pearls and Chucks to watch the inauguration with their daughters. And I am banking on a theory those Bernie memes got their start on Black Twitter before they proliferated to every crevice of the Internet. 

It was a day where Blackness owned the room no matter where it showed up. So, I wanted to break down some of it here in Black Joy and point out some of its southern touches.  

“My VP looks like me”

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Did you hear sound of shattered glass when Kamala Harris, a daughter of Jamaican and South Asian immigrants, became the first Black woman to become vice president? Tears welled up in my eyes as I thought about the mothers who dressed their daughters in “My VP looks like me” T-shirts to watch as both history unfolded – and the possibilities of their futures widen – before them. 

Chasiti Shepherd, a Birmingham mother of two who runs her own public relations firm called BGrace Media, LLC, said watching the inauguration was a special moment for her 6-year-old daughter Bella, who wants to be president. Shepherd wanted to show Bella and her youngest daughter, 2-year-old Brailee, how to walk into their purpose.  

As her mother, it is essential to provide her with an opportunity to see Black women do amazing things,” Shepherd said. I hope that seeing Madam Vice President Kamala Harris’ inauguration inspired her to shoot for the moon. I want her to understand that with hard work, faith in God and a little Black Girl Magic, we can call her Madam President as well.”   

Madam President Bella Grace Shepard. I like how that sounds.  

To capture this precious moment, Reckon’s very own video magicians Kavolshaia Howze and Amanda Khorramabadi spoke with Jamaican and South Asian moms who came through with some advice for Harris as she begins her historic term and explained what this win means for their daughters.  

And we can’t forget about our Black #GirlDads like Casey Bethel, of Douglassville, Ga., who wanted his daughter, Harper, to know that she is limitless 

Millions of little girls like Harper woke up (Wednesday) morning with a new dream, believing that they can grow up to be vice president and that there is no limit on which chairs they can sit in,” Bethel said. 

Black Southern designer swag

When they tell you to show off your bipartisanship to wear purple, Michelle Obama reminds everyone she can do whatever she wants. 

That burgundy and plum outfit. Those bouncy, soft curls with the side part. #ForeverFLOTUS radiated grace and power and she always makes sure we never forget it.  

Black Southern natives made the most show stopping looks of the inauguration. Sergio Hudson, a designer from South Carolina, made sure both Michelle Obama and Harris were dressed for history. Christopher John Rogers, a Louisiana native, also contributed to make Harris’ look.  

Here are some of my favorite looks from both designers:

A nod to Southern Black poets

IBlack Magic stole the show, Amanda Gorman also took the stage, the microphone, the props, all of it.  

The 22-year-old national youth poet laureate made history as the youngest inaugural poet. Her rousing poem, “The Hill We Climb,” made her a household name overnight. Her books are topping best seller lists and they haven’t even been released yet.  

Her glow and flow blessed our ears and hearts as she gave the country the reckoning it needs and a real blueprint of what authentic healing looks like.  

Not to hate on Biden’s speech, but the whole inauguration could have been Gorman’s five minutes. That’s it. That’s the message. She is the message.  

This is what happens when we empower Black youth enough to believe in their own voices – whether they have a speech impediment or not. And there are so many poetic legends down South. The works of  Nikki Giovanni, Alice Walker and Sonia Sanchez have shown me how poetry is a form of activism.  

So here are some Black poets from the South you should keep your eyes on:

Ashley Jones

Lyssa Singer, AKA “Lyssa Lou”

Pulitzer Prize winner Jericho Brown

J. Lyte

Jahman Hill

Jae Nichelle 

Here are more suggestions from our Reckon audience:

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