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They had trouble finding videos that celebrate black men. So they did something about it.

Brendan DeVoue has spent his whole career at Northeastern bringing people together; it’s just part of who he is. He’s part of an organization that works to connect the university’s cultural centers to each other. And it’s why he brought together his peers to create a video celebrating the joy of being black.

The video and accompanying social media campaign, #BlackBoyJoy, were inspired by a viral campaign called #BlackGirlMagic that encourages black women and girls to post videos and photos celebrating the things that make them feel proud.

Too often, DeVoue said, the news media depict black men as criminals or victims of violence. These portrayals in news stories lack the joy, love, and nuance experienced by black men, he said.

It’s personal, too. DeVoue said he’s been in situations where being black has made him feel isolated. Sometimes he’s been the only person in his classroom who “looks like me,” he said. Once someone at his job mistakenly called him by the name of “the only other person who looked like me at this job,” he said.

“You can feel it all the time, and it’s easy to feel that you’re the only one experiencing these things,” DeVoue said of these slights.

The video, filmed last year, shows DeVoue and his Northeastern classmates dressed to the nines in suits, ties, and scarves, dancing to music, laughing, and draping their arms around each other in a sense of camaraderie.

 

 

“With #BlackBoyJoy, I wanted to be able to show the versatility of black people on campus,” DeVoue said. “We’re here, we love it too, we’re beautiful people, and we can have fun in a healthy way. Those are things that aren’t usually shown when you’re talking about black men.”

DeVoue said he called upon everything he’s learned by studying marketing at Northeastern to pull the video together. He designed fliers to post on campus ahead of filming and developed a strategy for rolling out the video, among other tasks.

“I’m very proud of them. Their video was a way of unifying a demographic that isn’t always celebrated. They provided a visual for people to recognize that black men are here and they matter.”

Bernadine Desanges program manager of student development and leadership programming at the John D. O’Bryant African American Institute

“It was just a lot of fun, being able to use all these skills for something I’m really passionate about,” he said.

DeVoue also called on his friends (and classmates), Kyumon Murrell and Kyle Bancroft Taylor, to help spread word of the video campaign and recruit people to be in it.

Bernadine Desanges was the program manager of student development and leadership programming at the John D. O’Bryant African American Institute while DeVoue and his peers were starting out at Northeastern. Desanges said she spent a lot of time with DeVoue as he was finding his footing at the university, and DeVoue counted Desanges among some of the most influential mentors he’s met.

“I’m very proud of them,” Desanges said. “Their video was a way of unifying a demographic that isn’t always celebrated. They provided a visual for people to recognize that black men are here and they matter.”

Among the stars of the video are Huntington 100 nominees, a Torch Scholar who’s been recognized by former President Barack Obama, several student leaders, and various award-winners.

“We don’t see enough joy and love when we see black men,” said Murrell, a senior studying health science. “Being part of a racial group that gets those negative messages, it was important to me to create and put out something that was all about joy and love because that’s what I’m trying to foster.”

For media inquiries, please contact media@northeastern.edu.

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