Comedian Felonious Munk, center, is credited with starting the hashtag #BlackMenSmiling. (Scott Suchman)


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If you missed it Friday on Twitter, go back and have a look at #BlackMenSmiling, a celebration of black men projecting joy, beauty and love via a simple facial expression.

From professionally pleasant smiles to wide, silly grins, people posted images of the famous black men, such as former president Barack Obama and numerous entertainers, and spontaneous snapshots of family and friends.

Twitter credits comedian Felonious Munk, a.k.a. Dennis Banks, for starting the hashtag:

The response was overwhelming. The hashtag trended for most of the day, and new posts continued the trend on Saturday.

Scrolling through the posts, it was hard not to smile at the happiness the photos conveyed. Yet, I also felt a tinge of frustration that we as black people still have to go out of our way to show our humanity.


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Hank Willis Thomas, the conceptual artist whose works explores identity, said the images of black men that typically dominate the media and popular culture have been “created to really dehumanize and often brutalize us.”

The notion that black men can be happy “should be taken for granted,” he said. Instead, it “can be incredibly profound …  that black men are people and, like most people, we are here to be our best selves and to improve the lives of others.”

#BlackMenSmiling captures our imagination because “Seeing images of black men as people, everyday people that we can relate to and adore and embrace is still surprising, and maybe unsurprisingly, shocking and enlightening.”

Here are some of the hashtag’s top tweets: