We are in a movement of a particular kind of young Black folk. It is a movement of young Black people who are not trying to simply stretch old ideas of the past, but modify them into new forms. What we see is a collective of Black millennials who are shaping our own destinies and voices and who do not look for leaders to speak for us. We see young Black folks who do not think the college degree is the sole marker of education. We see self-actualized, self-loving, and unapologetically Black youth who will twerk, smoke a blunt, and still give you a mean analysis of feminism. We see a movement of young Black folks who are queer, fat, disabled, and embrace being the Other. And for those of us who are privileged enough to advocate for change in this society, we are trying to center differences in our efforts, as opposed to quashing differences like some of our leaders of the past. This effort is our responsibility.
Through this premise, we asked ourselves, what does it mean to be a queer or trans Black millennial in the 21st century? This is the question that guided us as we birthed the idea of creating an online space that both tells our history while mapping our impending trajectory. To this end, the values of this site lay principally on what does it mean to be Othered – to be queer, trans, Black, disabled, femme, fat, ugly – in a world that renders us invisible, underestimates our humanity, and devalues our personhood. Newer Negroes curates the commentary and thoughtfulness of queer, trans, and gender-non conforming people. And though much has been written about what it means to be Black and young in this contemporary moment, what’s special and original about Newer Negroes is that rather than centering and re-articulating the problems of being marginalized, Newer Negroes continues the tradition of appealing to a sense of what’s possible. It is a place to uplift solutions. It is a space of visions.
We both arrive at this work from different positions– but the values we share do not differ vastly. Our values are really quite simple: we want to create a virtual space that captures the crevices of our lives, where loving one another sometimes means calling each other in, where debate and dialogue is not manufactured from the lens of shade, and where we are good about putting our heart where it aches.
We hope that this space is healing, rejuvenating, and inspiring in a time where our visions are often under attack. We also hope that you can find healthy conflict with something you read. Black feminist and poet Lucille Clifton once said that we have to “nurture our sense of what’s possible.” Indeed, we hope that this space allows you to nurture your own sense of possibility, and responsibility to people who look like you, struggle like you, and hope like you.
Aaron is a Chicago-based writer, activist, and educator. His work has been featured in Colorlines, Mused Magazine Online, the Feminist Wire, TruthOut.com, the Advocate, the Education Post, and Chicago South Side Weekly. He is currently working on a speculative fiction novel for young adults. Follow him on twitter and Instagram: @Talley_Marked