Hi. My name is Alex and watching Soul Train clips on YouTube is one of my favorite procrastination methods.
I wish I could jump in the Magic School Bus and heel-toe back to a time when Black and Black-loving America gathered ‘round on Saturday mornings to witness well dressed Black people, jamming on the motherfucking one, blackardly, to the day’s top jammy jams.
But all good things must come to an end, so the days of televised hand jives and zealous herky-jerkin’ are long gone.
Thankfully, I am able to press on in this hard knock post-Teen Summit life I live because, if I need to fortify my thug levels, I can cha cha slide on through the Soul Train archives for a dose of that which strengthens me, Black Dramatics.
It’s the singsong in our greetings
The performance of the mundane,
The exaggeration of the trivial,
The comically profane.
We so extra.
Today, I celebrate the excessive yet brilliant manner in which we overperform our Black ass ways through this Black ass life.
Think of how Aunt Song searched frantically for Queenie in Crooklyn. Think of how MJ would stand motionless on stage, still serving drama, longer than Farrah lasted in Destiny’s Child. Extra. Our grandiose cousins with camera time never cease to amaze me.
And I’m here for it all.
In our daily speech, we add Lawry’s and Texas Pete/Louisiana/Frank’s to even the most basic expressions. Take, for instance, the star of this legendary cooking demonstration and my brand new auntie, Miss Felicia. She doesn’t just cook. She cooks like a motherfucker. She didn’t simply tell you to add parsley to the gourmet Top Ramen situation for garnish. No. She instructed:
“To really make out like it look like it’s really something ya done did, you put a little parsley, dried parsley, in there on there like that there.”
Auntie Fefe turned a 5-minute budget meal demo into the pilot for next spring’s top-rated show on OWN, cussing her way right the fuck into the hearts of hundreds of thousands of dozens of hearts on the Internets in a matter of days.
I’ve deduced that our visceral need to show up and show out must be part of the standard melanin package, bundled with melanin’s built-in anti aging properties. It’s why the well of stage-ready Blackfolk line dances will never run dry. The richness of our expression is unparalleled. Can’t no White man walk into a room like George Jefferson. We are a wonder to behold. As such, I get why culture vulturing is a full time job.
Because we da bess.
That would explain why Deitra Hicks dramatically hummed Negro spirituals with clenched teeth and fists to keep her temper in check on Divorce Court.
This would also explain why Tamar Braxton, High Priestess of Black Dramatics, strives to transform her every Black gay-inspired snap, cackle, and cartoonish head bop into a new trend and social media movement. She can’t help it. Drama is she.
I reckon this is also why Mary J went full Miss Peaches while extolling the virtues of crispy chicken wraps on that condiment table. Her life’s work as an overperformer ensures nothing but the most fervent soulful coonery, and I can’t even be mad. So while I can’t always appreciate her impassioned vocal stylings, I do appreciate her dedication to keeping Black Dramatic culture alive.
Ultimately, I love to see us rejoice, embellish and overreact. I love to watch Black ass grandmas overcome with joy and/or a need to cuss a motherfucker out. My heart skeets in jubilation when watching deacon Jones, octogenarian, bust some 8-counts while holyghosting. And so dramatic Negros + a camera + social media = I ain’t getting shit done today.
However, my love of watching your grandiose cousins show out is second to my love of watching happy Black babies dance, laugh, and out-rhythm their peers. But that’s a whole different conversation.