One of my favorite parts of Blackness is the very specific shared knowledge-set that so many of us have about very specific people, places and things. There is an entire universe that exists within Blackness—The Black Mainstream—where people like Kirk Franklin are household names and Clifton Powell might as well be a part of the family because he’s in so many movies that its easier to list movies he ain’t in. Nia Long is important. Tyler Perry is a discussion at cookouts, churches and social media. That is Black famous.
The Root’s very own Michael Harriot pondered pontificatiously over this very question: who is the most Black famous person, even going so far as to host a Twitter debate to decide the most Black famous person in Black American history. Spoiler alert: Frankie Beverly is the most Black famous person and it’s not even debatable. At least according to some streets.
But it doesn’t end there. There are more questions that need to be answered, like, can you go from being Black famous to just being famous famous? Can you go backwards from famous famous to Black famous, you know the old Mariah Carey? For the record, I know she never stopped being famous famous, she just tried really hard. And where does Mary J. Blige land on that spectrum? One may never know.
And how does it feel to learn that someone you literally grew up with your entire life is actually only known by people you know? If that stuff doesn’t make for a fun ass discussion, nothing will, so we decided to do that and do it like we were doing it for television as part of The Black Mainstream series.
Thanks for sleepwalking and stay Black (famous)...if your ministry allows for it.