Mel D. Cole


Creative Artists, Black Moments, & Their Societal Impact

July 29, 2023

Artists are beyond vital to the advancement of human life. Without artists, we wouldn’t have a visual understanding of history before photography. Without writers, we wouldn’t have the histories of long past civilisations. Without music, we wouldn’t be able to facilitate generations-old traditions and celebrations.

Creative outputs are vital to life

A creative work engaged around the world creates a type of shared consciousness, an indelible mark and connection shared between all of its viewers. From books to series and everything in between, creative artists contribute to pop culture, impacting the lives of everyone in its proximity.

Being viscerally moved by something changes you as a person. For example, as much as the life of a white 30-something writer is the furthest thing from my experience as a Black 20-something writer, Eat, Pray, Love has changed my life in some ways. Even when it’s possible to relate to the artist, it’s still humbling to experience collective joy with an audience outside of a setting like a religious gathering, for instance. This is best seen in concert settings, like SZA’s S.O.S tour or Beyoncé’s Renaissance tour, festivals like AFROPUNK Brooklyn, and films like The Little Mermaid or The Princess and the Frog.

A “moment” between Black folk is cause for celebration

This past summer alone, SZA and Beyoncé toured albums that spoke to people on a deeply personal level. Following up Ctrl. with S.O.S., SZA presented another body of work narrating some of the innermost thoughts and sentiments of its listeners. With Renaissance, Beyoncé debuted an album that not only uplifts the spirit and mood of its listener, but demands public acknowledgement of the LGBTQ+ community that is so often dismissed and degraded.

With films like The Little Mermaid and The Princess and the Frog, Black women and girls shared a moment to dress up and experience Disney from a place of importance. With films like these, they weren’t merely nameless characters to support a (white) main character. While the politics of representation can be debated many ways, it cannot be denied that Black folks share a moment worth remembering when it happens.

What is the personal impact of Black moments?

From the creativity of others, global history is made, social change is emboldened. On a more individual level, personal change can be motivated from a moving experience. For example, as Beyoncé tours the United States, videos of fans leaving each concert with wonder upon their faces flood the internet. After attending a show in Amsterdam for Euro Summer ‘23, I left the Renaissance concert feeling like I could be the sum total of my boldest imaginations and hopes.

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In a festival setting, the community of a space sets the tone for its experience. For example, AFROPUNK festivals have a history of embracing and uplifting Black peoples who have too often been relegated to the fringes of society. While enjoying the music is an obvious element of the day, an AFROPUNK festival is equally about being in a space that accepts, uplifts, and grows everyone in attendance.

In close, having completed nearly seven months of 2023, many of us are evaluating what we’ve achieved so far. Before the new year sneaks up on us, we’re asking ourselves if the path we’re on is in line with the goals we set in January. To this point, self reflection isn’t the easiest task; however, with the help of collective experiences and shared moments, doing the work is achievable.