Mary J. Blige Dancing At The Bad Boy Reunion Tour Is The Blackest Thing That Ever Happened This Week

Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images for Live Nation
Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images for Live Nation

The concept of being unapologetically Black ultimately boils down to a Black person being — or, at least, striving to be — their best self. And believing that this best self includes and doesn't exclude or contradict with a shameless and unabashed embrace of Blackness. Admittedly, the journey to unapologetic Blackness as a Black American isn't an easy one. There are many factors — structural racism, socialized default Whiteness, Kappas at happy hours, etc — in place to prevent that very thing from happening. Which makes the path particularly arduous but the destination especially sweet.


But if you need help in the form of a visual representation of how this looks, think of Mary J. Blige "dancing" at the Bad Boy Reunion Tour.


One of the keys of this embrace of unapologetic Blackness is letting go of any preconceived notion of how Blackness is supposed to be and/or look. For instance, Black people are supposed to be able to dance. But this hasn't deterred Mary J. from doing what she thinks is dancing in very public spaces for almost 25 years; effectively being the real-life version of who Elaine Benes would be if she grew up in Harlem.

And if a professional performing artist can do this for three decades and still give negative infinity fucks about it, it's a heartening thing for dancing-deficient Black people (read: Black people like me) to witness.

They say dance like no one is watching. Well, to be unapologetically Black is to dance like you're Mary J. Blige and 50,000 people are watching.

Damon Young is the editor-in-chief of VSB, a contributing opinion writer for The New York Times, and the author of What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Blacker (Ecco/HarperCollins)

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To me it looks like she's constantly on the verge of jumping into the double dutch rope and changing her mind.