This Embrace Between Brian Tyree Henry and Keith Stanfield Is The Blackest Thing That Ever Happened This Week
Between Moonlight’s win and Tracee Ellis Ross going Peak Tracee Ellis Ross with her win and her speech and her joy and her dress (and her dress and her dress and her dress) and Issa Rae not winning (yet) but reminding us that we probably should get used to seeing her at these types of events and nominated for those types of awards and Viola Davis teaching America that we’ve been doing collard greens wrong this entire time and us (Black people) turning the repeated Hidden Fences gaffes into a thing, last night’s Golden Globes had quite a few candidates for the Blackest Thing that ever happened this week. Including, of course, Meryl Streep using her privilege and her position to make a room full of White people quite uncomfortable, which might have been the Blackest thing a White person has done in public since Mike Dean produced The Diary.
But while Streep’s speech was an example of what we need White people to do to prevent Trumpian politics to be some sort of normalized status quo, the embrace between Brian Tyree Henry and Keith Stanfield — ecstatic and vulnerable and visibly verklempt while watching Donald Glover accept his award for Best Actor (Television Series Musical or Comedy) — is an example of what we need to do to survive and thrive over these next four years.
It’s apropos that the image of these two men hugging each other would come a week after two of the biggest stories in pop culture were the levels to the fallout from Kim Burrell’s homophobic comments and the analog, Taco-Bell-beef beef between Soulja Boy and Chris Brown. Because you couldn’t find two better stories to articulate the type of toxic, regressive, and just plain fucking dangerous mores and beliefs about sexuality and masculinity that need to be taken out to a barn and shot in the fucking face, and you can’t find a better image to exemplify the type of love and embrace that needs to be loved and embraced than what Henry and Stanfield did last night. When I saw those two men — those friends and colleagues celebrating their friend and colleague — I saw two men who were free. Free to enjoy, embrace, and encourage each other without any care of how it might be interpreted. Free to just be, and willing to fight for that freedom. Free to be in love with your friend, a person who happens to be a man, with a love that reflects the ideal of genuine platonic love, which is to “inspire the mind and the soul and direct one’s attention to spiritual things.” Ultimately, this was the progressive evolution and distillation of “fuck them other niggas cause I’m down with my niggas.”
And this is our path. Of course, we’ll continue to protest and disrupt and defend and protect and battle and bleed. But this is it. This is the type of love that’s worth fighting for to cultivate, shield, and maintain. This is who we need to be with each other. With a love that’s not unconditional — you need to earn this shit to receive it — but is unencumbered and unconcerned when it’s earned, given, and received.