Luis Mora

Breaking CultureViral SensationsWe See You

editor’s letter: breaking culture

September 3, 2019
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We were having a Content Team Brainstorming Meeting at AFROPUNK and Bridget Todd, co-Host of our Solution Sessions podcast and the voice of Solution Sessions Daily, was talking about how Black people are always breaking culture, but don’t always get credit for it. Boom! Our September content theme was insta-born. This month we are Breaking Culture!

I love this type of Black genius thinking because the double entendre is brilliant. As Black folk, we are so damn creative that we cannot help but do the things that come naturally to us and blow everyone’s minds in the process. We show up! We show out! We snatch wigs. PeriodT!

Unfortunately, we aren’t always given credit for creative Black genius historically. We build something out of nothing and then it becomes this iconic fixture in popular culture, but nobody remembers that a Black person invented, built or created said masterpiece.

Here is a sampling of how we have broken culture without a lot of credit or receipts.

  • Oscar Micheaux, an author, filmmaker, and independent producer of 44 films was the first African American to produce a feature-length film in 1919 entitled Homesteader.
  • Lewis Latimer helped create the light bulb and telephone.
  • Charles Harrison became the first Black executive at Sears, Roebuck, and Company in 1961 and re-designed the View-Master, which according to The New York Times was a “Stone Age version of the virtual reality viewer, it allowed people to look at photographs in three dimensions.”
  • Phillip Emeagwali who created the world’s first supercomputer is referred to as “The Bill Gates of Africa.” **That part…
  • Lisa Gelobter created the genius of web animation aka the GIF.

And then there are the unsung, uncredited, unknown Black visionaries who started dance crazes, costume designers and wardrobe stylists who made-up looks that became trends, vocal coaches guided the voices, and street celebrities who lived in the shadows or whose swag was stolen all because of their Blackness and institutionalized racism and sexism. We are the inventors of popular culture — Blackness is popular culture.

But it’s a new day!

Social media has given voice and visibility to a new generation of Black creatives and ownership that heretofore was not an option. We are now seeing a new wave of viral sensations who have captured the attention of thousands, sometimes millions, of people, and collected some coins along the way.

Our cover subject Donté (@donte.colley) captured our attention at the beginning of 2019 with a viral video that used choreography mixed with Emojis and exuded Black Boy Joy that was inspiring, empowering, and infectious. He encouraged us to #BelieveInYourself, #KeepPushing, and #KnowYourWorth, which spoke directly to people’s emotional desires to start the New Year off with a new attitude. He went on to perform live on GMA, proving that you can create your own content in Toronto and take America by storm if you hit the right beat and algorithm.

Donté is part of our Top Ten Viral Sensations of 2019 who are Breaking Culture. Follow us this week as we unveil other young Black creatives who are making us pay attention, laugh out loud, and doing the things that Black folk do — creating incredibly brilliant content by being ourselves. This time though, due credit is being given because we are owning the content we create or at least we have all of the receipts.


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