CNN  — 

I was scrolling through Facebook one evening when I noticed an odd image that someone had posted on my page. It was a screenshot of a solitary Black man on roller skates, freeze-framed in the middle of a country road flanked by horse pastures.

As I clicked on the video I braced myself, expecting to see a Black person being brutalized by police or accosted in public by White strangers. But that’s not what I saw.

The man flashed a wide smile and he started to dance. He had a gray beard, but he skated like someone 20 years younger: rolling his shoulders, shimmying his hips while Mary J. Blige sang “Not Gon’ Cry” in the background. Soon I was smiling, too.

The video had no caption, but I had a name for what I was watching: It was a snapshot of what I call “trauma-free Blackness.”

Here’s my wish: more trauma-free Blackness.

It’s been a rough few years for most Black people. We watched videos of Black men being brutalized or killed and read about Black women fatally shot in their homes by police. We’ve watched a pandemic devastate our community. At times I, too, have felt exhausted by what one writer calls “the relentlessness of Black grief.”

But my boogie-down skater buddy reminded me of something I had almost forgotten: There is a Blackness that exists outside of trauma.

There are vast regions of Black life that have nothing to do with suffering or oppression. We lead lives that are also filled with joy, romance, laughter and astonishing beauty, but those stories don’t tend to grab the headlines. It’s time to change that.

What follows are my favorite examples of “trauma-free Blackness” – striking expressions of Black life that aren’t filtered through the lens of racism.

I also asked my CNN colleagues to join me in creating a list of our favorite trauma-free moments. To do so we pored through movies, TV, music, art, literature, internet memes and other slices of Black culture. It’s by no means an exhaustive list – just a good place to start.

This in no way means to minimize racism’s impact on Black people. I’m a Black journalist who believes such stories are needed now more than ever.

But Black lives should matter outside of trauma. Any true racial reckoning should acknowledge all of our humanity – not just when we’re dying.

These examples show why.

I’m proud of what one author called “the rugged endurance” of Black people. We’ve found a way to laugh, dance and create art of breathtaking beauty despite everything we’ve experienced. None of that resilience, though, would be possible if we hadn’t created a set of traditions that help us survive.

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The magic of Black girls’ play – Black children weren’t always allowed the same freedoms as other kids on the playground, but witness the joys of Double Dutch. Here Taylor Blackwell, 9, jumps rope while her mom Danielle Blackwell and sister Jaelynn,12, turn on June 27, 2020, at Black Lives Matter Plaza in Washington, DC.

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Black family reunions – Slavery was designed to destroy Black families. Slaveowners routinely sold the children of slaves or split up married couples. Yet many slaves somehow found a way to maintain family ties. No wonder so many Black families like this one place great importance on preserving annual gatherings.

Homecomings at historically Black colleges and universities are “part family reunion and part revival.” For many Black people like myself, attending a Black college was like joining an extended family. It was liberating to be in a place where we didn’t have to explain ourselves to White people. Homecomings bring back all of those memories.

North Carolina A&T's marching band performs during halftime of Howard University's 93rd annual homecoming game in 2016 in Washington, DC.; an annual homecoming Greek Step Show competition, also at Howard University.

Greek Step ShowsI got my first sustained exposure to Black Greek subculture when I attended Howard University. I couldn’t quite understand the appeal of watching Black Greek groups performing complex, synchronized routines. Now I do. It’s a dramatic and athletic spectacle that combines chanting and singing. It’s about pride and showmanship. It’s also a lot of fun.

“Soul Train’s” iconic dance lineIt’s hard to decide what’s more impressive – the Afros, the outfits or the retro dance moves from this popular music showcase, which ran on TV for 35 years. The “hippest trip in America” is no longer on the air, but its dance line endures at weddings and house parties across America.

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Black Joy ParadeThis celebration of Black culture and community brings thousands to downtown Oakland, California, each winter. It’s inspiring to see Black people take to the streets to protest injustice. But it’s also refreshing to see us gather in public to celebrate something that’s often been so elusive for many of us: joy. Just witness Rochelle Westbrooks of Sacramento, dancing at the parade in 2019.

The Internet is a cruel repository for images of Black suffering. But it is also stuffed with GIFs, viral videos and stories about Black people that are clever, funny, inspiring and sometimes strange. My favorite involves a leprechaun in Alabama.

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The YouTube twins How can you not chuckle at the giddy repartee of these two young Black music lovers who film their reactions to hearing songs like Phil Collins’ “In the Air Tonight” for the first time. Black male teenagers are often vilified as criminals or thuggish rappers, so it’s good to see two cheerful young Black men gain attention for something as simple as their love for all kinds of music.

Two real-life besties reunite It’s been said that racism is not inherent and that kids are taught to hate. This video of two toddlers – one Black, one White – enthusiastically greeting one another offers a tantalizing glimpse of what the world would look like if people didn’t care about color.

KD French sang lead AND backup for a song she wrote about how hard it is to keep off the pandemic pounds, left; rapper Conceited became a hugely popular meme for his reaction during a battle rap moment.

KD French’s pandemic song – The singer wrote a witty gospel tune about putting on pandemic pounds. Black churches are full of great singers who can inject joy into the saddest occasions. French found a way to make me smile in the middle of a pandemic.

The battle rap moment that’s immortalized as a meme One of the staples of Black culture is our relish for verbal combat. Any Black person who has ever “played the dozens” as a kid knows what it’s like to be on the receiving end of a playful insult such as, “Yo momma is so fat when she got on the scale it said, ‘I need your weight, not your phone number.’” The look on this rapper’s face when his opponent tripped over his words has become a meme classic.