Here’s Why You’re Seeing the “I Am a Black Man” Challenge on Your Feed Today

Abi Travis - Author

Jun. 5 2020, Updated 11:36 a.m. ET

i am a black man challenge
Source: Instagram/@sirib_16/@gradybaby16

Next time you’re scrolling through your Instagram feed, we highly recommend taking a look at the #iamablackman hashtag. The “I Am a Black Man” challenge recently started trending and it spreads a powerful message of confidence and solidarity. Here’s what you need to know about the challenge.

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What is the “I Am a Black Man” challenge?

The “I Am a Black Man” challenge seeks to lift up and raise the self-esteem of Black men. At this time (and, to be sure, throughout America’s history), being a Black man can come with a lot of serious trauma. Much of that trauma is the direct result of people relying on knowledge that comes only from stereotypes.

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This kind of stereotyping exists for many types of people. For instance, when we talk about “Karen,” you immediately picture the “I want to talk to the manager” hairstyle, right? But in the case of Black men in America, stereotyping often has far more serious consequences. At best, they might regularly experience microaggressions like people crossing over to the other side of the street every time they walk outside  — which would wear on anyone. At worst, they might be killed. 

The “I Am a Black Man” challenge aims to combat some of that trauma by giving Black men a way to raise their own confidence and boost the self-esteem of other Black men in the process. Black men who choose to participate in the challenge first post a picture of themselves on Instagram, then copy and paste the following caption:

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“I am a Black man… I build… I don’t tear down other Black men!… I have felt the pain of being torn down and I have decided I will be deliberate about building others! If I didn’t tag you, please don’t be offended. I tried to pick people I thought would do this challenge!! All too often, we men find it easier to criticize each other instead of building each other up. With all the negativity going around let’s do something positive!! Upload one picture of yourself… only you. Then tag as many brothers to do the same. Let’s build each other up, instead of tearing ourselves down.”
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They add the #iamablackman hashtag and also tag other Black men to participate in the challenge. Instagram allows up to 20 tags per post, while Facebook (where some men are choosing to participate) allows 50. There are already thousands of posts on Instagram using the hashtag, and we’d guess you’ll keep seeing more in your feed (if you don’t, now’s a great time to diversify that feed!).

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This challenge is probably quite different from other challenges you’ve seen appear on social media. There are no dance moves, physical tests, or prescribed poses. They’re just pictures of Black men who are aiming to build one another up in a time when they may be feeling especially knocked down. And frankly, we are absolutely here for it.

If you are looking for ways to donate your time or money to Black Lives Matter and other antiracist organizations, we have created a list of resources to get you started.

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