Black Men Smile
 
 
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about us

Black Men Smile because we love ourselves. This platform is about radical expressions of self-love. It is about resistance. It is about learning from each other. It is about encouraging one another. It is about transcending. It is about defying gravity, as our ancestors have always done, and leaving a legacy so that generations after us may do the same. During these times when so many stories are being told about us, we will need those we tell about ourselves to be our real truth.
— Carlton Mackey

Black Men Smile® creator Carlton Mackey sits down with Emory University student Flora Fei in his office on campus. Fei chose Mackey for her film assignment about social activism.


Black Men Smile®: Celebrating the Way We See Ourselves

Carlton Mackey photo by JD Pitman

Carlton Mackey photo by JD Pitman

Carlton Mackey, Founder of Black Men Smile®

Carlton Mackey is an artist and scholar. He is the Director of the Ethics & the Arts Program and the Associate Director of the D. Abbott Turner Program in Ethics and Servant Leadership at the Emory University Center for Ethics. Mackey created the University’s Art and Social Engagement Project sponsored by Southwest Airlines. Mackey is also an adjunct professor of Film and Media Studies at the University. Mackey is a Teaching Artist at the High Museum of Art.

In addition to Black Men Smile® Mackey is the creator of BEAUTIFUL IN EVERY SHADE™, a grassroots empowerment campaign and apparel line for women of color and the author of 50 Shades of Black: Sexuality and Skin Tone in the Formation of Identity.

Mackey’s work blends his unique combination of social consciousness, creativity, scholarship, and social connection to create powerful inner impressions that invite new discovery and personal transformation.


OUR STORY

Black Men Smile® was created one month after Michael Brown was murdered in Ferguson, Missouri.  After seeing 100s of images of Michael's body lying in the street and after a flurry of other painful and oppressive images of Black men in the weeks to follow, I did an experiment to explore what other images of Black men made up the landscape of social media.  I entered the HASHTAG #blackmensmile on Instagram.

It yielded ZERO results.

I posted the first image with this hashtag September 30, 2014.  I asked Black men to do the same.  Today there are over 44,000 images tagged with that hashtag on Instagram and over 27,000 people follow the Instagram page.

After some consideration of what I wanted to accomplish with this new platform, I set out to explore one seemingly basic question, WHAT MAKES YOU SMILE?  After posing that question to a test group of 20 Black men, 17 of them had the same initial response:

"No one has ever asked me that."

That response broke my heart and continues to serve as the fuel for this transformative work.

-Carlton Mackey
(Creator, Black Men Smile®)

 
 
 
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Our mission

The Mission of Black Men Smile® is to create a space for Black Men to celebrate the way we see ourselves.  We ask Black Men what makes them smile...and work to create sustainable environments where we can do it more often.

 

eight core components of Black Men Smile® platform

 
  • Lifestyle apparel brand

We set out on a mission to leverage the strength and appeal of our social media movement to create an apparel brand to further our commitment to celebrate the way we see ourselves.  

Embody the movement.  Resist.

Look good doing it.


#blackmensmile

In addition to building a nationally recognized brand birthed out of our creation of the hashtag #blackmensmile, we are generating a portrait archive comprised of professional images captured by our team of artists and those crowd-sourced from within the community.  Now with over 47,000 images of Black men from all walks of life having used the hashtag (on Instagram alone), we have created a movement based on the reclamation of our own self identities.


International Travel Retreats

The BMS retreat experience is so much more than a sight seeing excursion or vacation. It is a deep dive into the self and an exploration of our inextricable connection to each other. It is an examination of culture and history and religion and politics. Through the lens of each of our unique perspectives, we see things totally differently and are transformed as a result.


art/Media production

We produce film based media productions in addition to the professional images we capture.  Our team has produces a series of short films highlighting our work and seek to produce a documentary film, and other forms of art that represent a broader spectrum of Black men and Black masculinity.


BLACK MEN SMILE® MONDAYS

BLACK MEN SMILE® MONDAYS: WEEKLY IN-DEPTH PROFILE OF AMAZING BLACK MEN ...AND STORIES ABOUT WHAT MAKES THEM SMILE!

>>Black Men Smile® Mondays

After the internet was flooded with thousands of photos of Black men sharing their smiles and reclaiming their joy, Black Men Smile® and Felonious Munk, the man who kicked off the viral wave with his tweet of #BlackMenSmiling, are teaming up to profile some of the amazing stories of men who shared their smiles.

  • community building/organizing

We will partner with a broad constituency base in cities across the country to expose Black men to resources within their own communities AND work to ultimately ensure that the Black men in these communities see themselves as resources to their own communities.  

To this end we will seed and establish BLACK MEN SMILE™ Chapters with local leadership across the country. The chapters will become self-organizing hubs for community action led by Black Men to address the unique needs of our communities.


  • Empowerment and education Workshops

As a team of scholars, artists, and activists, we partner with local leaders, organizations, schools and other artists to host empowerment workshops.  Infused into each of our workshops is signature, educational curriculum we developed to lead groups of all ages in a process of personal transformation. Each are focused on empowerment, art, and radical expressions of self-love.


Black Men Smile because we love ourselves. This platform is not about respectability politics. It is about radical expressions of self love. It is about resistance.
— Carlton Mackey

K.I.N.G.S. Character Development Program, Inc.

(Knowledge Influencing the Next Generation’S Success)

The K.I.N.G.S. character development program is premised on the realization that it is time for us all to unite and become the necessary leaders that our male youth need and desire. This program resonates faith, service, strength, and cultural awareness. K.I.N.G.S. character development program, whose primary focus is to instill self-worth and values, will work to eliminate the expected norms of young black men in terms of education, communication, and responsibility.  

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Black Men Smile@ HAs Seen featured On: CNN, Blavity, TV One, ATTN, Buzzfeed, Upworthy, The RooT, OWN, Essence, and more


Black Men Smile® is a registered trademark. 2018 All Right Reserved. 

 

 
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Community engagement

 
 
 

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CONTACT US