Happy Black History Month, Tumblr! 

Black excellence should be celebrated 365 days a year—not just during February. That’s why #BlackExcellence365 was born exactly one year ago today. Since then, it’s been a year-round Tumblr celebration of Black artists, politicians, social justice advocates, musicians, and more. 

There is no #BlackExcellence365 if there is no intersectionality. Last year Kawther Inuwa from Muslim Girl Army’s (@muslimgirlarmy) sat down to tell the community about her experiences in being a Nigerian Muslim woman who works as a social activist. 18 Million Rising (@18mr), an Asian American activist group, informed the world how the Asian American community can show solidarity with Black communities. Southerners On New Ground revealed how their pro-Black, pro-queer, pro-immigrant, and pro-worker organization were intent on helping LGBTQ+ visibility and safety in the Southern states in America. 

Why stop now? Let’s kick off #BlackExcellence365 2020!

Black history is every day.

This isn’t just about honoring the past and celebrating the present, it’s about bettering the future, too. That’s why #BlackExcellence365 2020 will feature a number of Q&A Issue Times throughout the year. We’re partnering with a few leading organizations like Black Girls Vote (@blackgirlsvote), Planned Parenthood Action Fund (@ppaction), and 18 Million Rising (@18MR). Stay tuned here for the opportunity to ask these folks a question.

You can also look forward to Artist Spotlights that highlight Black artists on Tumblr who are doing incredible things. Aundre Larrow (@aundrelarrow) will reveal his experience as a photographer whose work focuses on Black bodies. Visual artist Gianni Lee (@giannilee) will give us an inside look at his experience in the art world. 

If you’re a Black creative who wants to get featured in a reblog on one of our official Tumblrs like @art, @music, @fashion, @entertainment, @books, @gaming, @kpop, and @staff, let us know! Just tag your post #BlackExcellence365 so we can find it. This celebration means so much more if it includes you and your work.

Make sure to stay tuned on @action to see all of the upcoming highlights we couldn’t mention here yet. There are 52 weeks of #BlackExcellence365 2020 left, after all. ✊🏿✊🏾✊🏽

Oh, and follow the #black history month to engage with what the Tumblr community is creating. Seeing the selfies, art, music, and everything else created by all of you is a real treat.

Artist Spotlight: Gianni Lee

Gianni Lee is a visual artist, fashion designer, music producer and international DJ who started gaining popularity through the viral success of his mixtapes as well as his streetwear brand Babylon Cartel. Lee uses painting as a language to tell the story of a people fighting for their home and their existence and his canvas and color choices are a platform for him to express inner-feelings on issues he can’t put into words. He tells stories that speak about social issues in America and abroad and we had the chance to honor him and his work in 2019 at Art Basel. We caught up with him recently to discuss more of his background and beliefs so check it out. 

If you could describe yourself in three words, what would they be?

I don’t think I could limit myself to words. Words are hard for me. I’ve always had trouble and that’s why I relied so heavily on imagery and color to get my point across. If I could describe myself in hues I would say aqua blue, matte black and cherry red.

When you hear Black Excellence, what or who comes to mind?

Me, you and anyone else Black who wants something out of this world but also wants to give something tangible back to this world while they are living on it. It’s no special look, walk or talk to me. It’s just real Black people living their truest and best selves, free from discrimination and judgement.

The traumatizing experience of a Black man being wrongfully accused of a crime is unfortunately common in the U.S. How has this inspired your work and advocacy?

Let me first say that I think Criminal Justice Reform is needed and is imperative in this country. I can’t stress that enough. The continued policing of Black bodies in America is a problem and must be addressed. It’s a revolving door of bullying and I always feel slightly pressured with the responsibility of addressing it in my work as a black man. The past, the present and the future of it. We need to know what was, and we need to openly discuss and plan what CAN be. Generational trauma is real and we are dealing with it everyday, that same trauma inspires my work. It’s a direct line to our ancestors that I’m speaking through and I’m only the vessel.  

What brings you satisfaction in your work?

My satisfaction is always the finished product and the reactions of people when they first see it. I’m competitive with myself so I always want to push my limits and do something better than the previous piece. I’m in this constant battle with my future and past selves to see who can bang out the most iconic painting. It’s like a weird time travel fringe art film. I probably wouldn’t watch it because it would suck.


Tell us about how you got started in the arts.

I got started the day my Mother enrolled me in this special education arts kindergarten called Moonstone. We learned everything through the arts as a foundation. I remember I got into a fight at school and my punishment was to draw exactly what I did wrong and present that drawing to the class followed by an apology. Shit was wild in Kindergarten.

What’s your most unforgettable professional memory?

I can’t really think of any, but I don’t like getting paid for projects late. The times that I did, it made me feel like I was at the bottom of the totem pole and my presence and contributions didn’t truly matter because this said company is not paying me on time.

Black Excellence means celebrating every and any Black experience. What experiences should we shine more light?

All things in the African Diaspora. All cultures, religions, customs and communities that never see press or the light of day. All of these things have been stripped from the history books and under-reported. If only we know the extent of our heritage and just how powerful we were then and are currently. It all starts with education and we need to know who we were to sculpt who we can become.

What can we look forward to from you in 2020?

More projects, more exhibitions. This year I told myself I would open up more and show just how dynamic I can be as a creative. I have a solo show coming soon, I’ve been preparing and painting for it and I can’t wait to display that new body of work because it means a lot to me.


Photos: Aaron Ramey, Jade Lilly

Check out Gianni’s latest collaboration with Levi’s right here and stay tuned for more details on his solo show coming soon. 

Happy Black History month!

We’ve been working on something special and are so excited to announce that we’re partnering with Tumblr to bring the best of Black excellence straight to your dashboard. How is this February different from the usual BHM celebrations? This time around, we won’t stop on the last day of February. We and Tumblr are committed to shining a light on the Black community throughout this entire year. This is #BlackExcellence365.

Our goal for #BlackExcellence365 is to the showcase the importance of diversity in Black history, present, and future. The Black community is not monolithic. It is a pan-African community, one consisting of a myriad of ethnic identities from African-American, African, Caribbean, Latinx, etc. Blackness encompasses different religions, sexual and gender identities, socioeconomic statuses, and more. Celebrating these identities and their successes is what #BlackExcellence365 is all about. We’ll be doing this by showcasing the continuous achievements of and contributions by Black people in history, science, music, art, media, social impact, fashion, gaming, poetry, and so many other areas of prominent cultural and historical importance.


Here’s a peek at just some of the things you can expect to see from @action (unless otherwise indicated!), Tumblr’s official blog for social impact:



  • #BlackExcellence365 video series, a round-table discussion of important issues in the Black community. March’s theme is Black Girl Magic: The Importance of Black Women’s Work in the Media.


  • #BlackExcellence365 video series X #TheBlackout: Content & Conversations Surrounding the Black LGBTQ+ community


  • #BlackExcellence365 video series X #TheBlackout: Music in the Black Community


  • #BlackExcellence365 video series X #TheBlackout: Mental Health in Communities of Color

Are you ready? We’re ready. Stay tuned to @action - Tumblr’s official blog for social impact, for the latest news, features, and community highlights. ✊🏿✊🏾✊🏽

#BlackExcellence365 Spotlight: Dee Williams

We’re back with our third spotlight of the year: @shotbydee, a Brooklyn-based photographer. We sat down with Dee as she discussed her creative process and how we can continue to support Black female photographers.

Tell us a little bit about yourself. When did your passion for photography start?

My name is Dee Williams, and I am a portrait photographer with an emphasis on documenting Black and LGBTQIA+ life. My overall goal is to disrupt the white male gaze within the photo industry. 

My passion for photography started in high school. I was influenced by my uncle, who had a point and shoot film camera and took photos of EVERYTHING. The joy that I saw in his face whenever he showed me his developed film is what sparked my interest. In high school, I was that girl who always had a camera on me and had thousands of photos on my Myspace and Facebook pages.

Black female photographers have been pioneering our creative industries but are still hugely underrepresented. What have you found that works in increasing that visibility?

Social media will always be a free and easy way to increase visibility. Consistency works, and the luck of that one huge follower RT’ing your work also helps (LOL). Entering online contests is a great way to get new eyes on your work, from photo editors or curators. Lastly, submitting your work to sites that center and uplift photographers of color. A few examples are Diversify Photo and Women Photograph. I have gotten many bookings via being seen on these websites, or a specific editor recommending me for a gig.


Your particular shooting style is portraiture. What kind of beauty do you find in portraits?

I love getting up close and personal in people’s faces. Black people are so beautiful! It is honestly a blessing being able to capture the essence of a person’s existence in a photograph. Skin texture, blemishes, eyes, jawline, etc.—I find beauty in everything, to be honest.

How do you embody the mission of #BlackExcellence365 in your everyday work?

I embody the mission of #BlackExcellence365 by waking up every day and doing one thing that brings me joy. In a society with systems in place that want to see you fall down, focusing on your internal joy is excellence in itself. Sharing that joy with others around you is the next step in keeping that going for the whole 365.

How has Tumblr enabled you to showcase your work and connect with other Black creatives?

Aside from being my safe space and favorite social media platform, Tumblr is where my photography gets the most views, reblogs, and comments. I get so much love on this platform. It is my mood board, my getaway from other toxic platforms, and a place in which I have found work from some of the most amazing Black creatives. I’m in my own Black creative world on Tumblr, and I wish everyone could enjoy what I do on Tumblr.

Thank you, Dee, for sharing your talent and your love of portraits with us. Make sure to check out and support Dee’s work, Tumblr. What are some of your favorite portraits of Black people? Use the tag #BlackExcellence365 for a chance to be reblogged to Action.

This interview has been condensed for clarity.

It’s essential to understand your voting rights and what to do if you are a first-time voter. Part of this is being aware of how voter suppression is currently affecting thousands of citizens who have the right to vote. The history of voter suppression in the United States is as old as the United States. 

To help spread understanding and prompt discussion, we paired with  Black Girls Vote (@blackgirlsvote) to help answer your questions. @blackgirlsvote is a nonprofit, grassroots organization focused on engaging, educating and empowering women of color to leverage their voting power to transform the democratic process. Their posts will be going live today, from 12 p.m. EST to 1 p.m. EST.

Check out all their answers right over here!

Nykidra “Nyki” Robinson is the founder and CEO of Black Girls Vote. Nyki’s life and work experience, combined with her interest in politics, was birthing ground for the delivery of her biggest project yet, Black Girls Vote, Inc. As the CEO, Nyki manages fundraising, numerous community and government initiatives, and events. Nyki graduated with a degree in business administration and a minor in leadership studies. 

Natasha Murphy is the Chief of Staff of Black Girls Vote. She assists the Founder and CEO with the organization’s strategic operations. Natasha earned her Master of Science in Public Health, a Health Policy degree at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and a Bachelor of Science in Health Sciences, magna cum laude from Howard University. 

Lauren Wyatt serves as Advocacy Lead for Black Girls Vote, Inc. By day, she is a corporate paralegal with a background in political science, legislative affairs, and compliance. Lauren holds a Bachelor of Art in Political Science from Delaware State University and is currently obtaining a dual Masters of Science in Negotiation and Conflict Management and Juris Doctorate from the University of Baltimore. 

Nia Duggins is part of the Black Girls Vote Advocacy Team. She is a policy expert, political strategist, and innovative thought leader with a broad range of experience working on many issues, including voting rights and election administration matters. Nia is a graduate of Bennett College and the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law.

Hey black men,

I love y’all, but some of y’all have to try harder for Black women. Put a little bit more effort into protecting us. Put a little more effort into not tryna force us to accept the bare minimum. Put a little more effort into not policing our hair, bodies, and the way we behave.

Hey Black women,

We can definitely chill on the “niggas ain’t shit” narrative. How do we expect them to rise up if we keep those words on top of their heads? Let’s change the narrative. Even though some black men (and women alike) ain’t shit, EVERYBODY has ain’t Shit tendencies. Let’s pick our brothers up where they fall.

We as a people have to do more loving on each other than condemning everything each of us does. Like seriously. Once we start loving each other, everything else will fall into place.

Black love extends beyond romantic relationships y’all. Don’t forget that.

I love yalls black asses ok?


Edit: By no means do I feel like discontinuing the “niggas ain’t shit” narrative is going to make aint shit niggas go away, but don’t y’all know that speaking things is manifesting them?

Sistas, don’t we want better black men? Let’s manifest them. Don’t stop holding them accountable, and don’t feel a way when they do the same.

Let’s heal our people y’all.

Art by Natalie Bui courtesy of 18MR

APAHM Spotlight: 18MillionRising

In honor of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, we sat down with Cayden Mak, Executive Director of @18MR, an organization that works to organize young Asian Americans online with a strong focus on building knowledge and identity. With Cayden living in the Midwest, he didn’t have a strong concept of what it meant – or could mean – to be Asian American, but finding the Internet meant finding a like-minded community that didn’t exist in his hometown. For him, this work is urgent. Let’s dive in.

How does 18MillionRising incorporate the importance of activism within the Asian/Pacific Islander community?

Activism by, for, and in Asian American and Pacific Islander communities is critical because our influence on culture is growing. From entertainment to politics, Asian Americans are becoming more visible. We can use this opportunity to make it clear what we stand for and why, or be manipulated by people who don’t have our best interests at heart for their own agendas. In order to properly defend against that kind of dis-organizing, it’s critical to be visionary in what we want, and our activism is about really about that vision. Now is the time to get organized and get involved.

When discussing the importance and impact of immigration within the Asian/Pacific Islander community, what are some common misconceptions about the community?

I don’t think a lot of people realize just how many ethnic groups, nationalities, and languages are encompassed in the umbrella of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. This plays out in a lot of ways, but I notice that people sometimes don’t have an appreciation for the wide variety of experiences that AAPI new arrivals in the United States have. Whether due to class, faith community, reason for emigrating, or any of many other factors, AAPI immigrants struggle against the systems that other communities of color struggle against. For example, the Cambodian American community has been brutally targeted by Immigration & Customs Enforcement over the past few years, but if you live somewhere without a large Cambodian American community, you might not be aware of it.

It seems cliche to say, but AAPIs are far from the model minority stereotype that you often see in the media. It bears repeating, though, because that stereotype was invented to shame and blame Black communities for their own struggles – it’s shorthand for saying, “If Asian immigrants could do it, why couldn’t you?” which elides how immigration policy has shaped the most visible parts of the Asian American community while erasing the ongoing implicit and explicit rules that have kept Black communities from gaining wealth and power in our society – starting with the way the Thirteenth Amendment was even written.

Let’s talk about your operating principle of “Co-Conspirators Instead of Allies.” How do the truths of anti-Black racism and settler colonialism affect the Asian/Pacific Islander community?

From the colonization of many of our home countries by Europe and the United States to the way skin color impacted the way those colonizers related to and categorized our homelands, it’s easy to see the way these things have played out for us, historically. It’s also the case that here, in the U.S. and in the present, our communities have an uneasy relationship with both anti-Black racism and settler colonialism.

For example, like the vast majority of Americans, we’re settlers – even if we came here as refugees, we have an important role to play in decolonizing this place and supporting Indigenous sovereignty on Hawai’i and the mainland. Our work is focused on figuring out how to come from a place of strength and power rooted in developing our identities as Asian Americans, so we can work as peers and equals with Black, Indigenous, and other people dedicated to mutual liberation.

We’re so grateful for the work that Cayden and his team at @18MR are doing. What has been your experience growing up Asian American? Use the hashtag #APAHM to share your story.

Happy 4th #Blackout Anniversary!

4 years ago, Black Tumblr got together and launch #Blackout/#BlackoutDay and we been keeping it running ever since. 

Today, we will be reblogging posts from everyone who post within the #Blackout/#BlackoutDay, especially those with a business, art, music, videos and something that expresses your redefinition of Blackness.

Back in February, we help introduced a partnership with Tumblr called #BlackExcellenece365, a year-long initiative to help highlight Black excellence every day. This means that we get a chance to feature Black creators and businesses in our own way!

How are we going to do it? We will be reaching out to a few people we have in mind, but we also want you to help us find them!

What we want to do this year is to challenge you by submitting other people! We’re looking to feature Black Tumblr users and all you have to do is to nominate the person we should feature. Just submit a nomination to our inbox and we will review and if we select them, your blog will also get mentioned in the featured post! 

We will be doing featured posts throughout the year, so let us know if there’s anybody you have in mind!

Enjoy yourself today and every day, Black Tumblr!


#BlackExcellence365 Artist Spotlight: Cat Frazier (@animatedtext)

Oh, buddies, have we got a special interview for you today. You may not know her, but you definitely already love it. It’s @animatedtext! We were able to ask this walking internet legend about her art and what it’s like being a Black woman on the internet when everyone assumes you’re a white male—and why it’s so important to correct those assumptions. Read on, reader.

Before we start this interview, we’d like to say how honored we are to interview the Queen of GIFs. Tell us: Who is the mastermind behind @animatedtext on Tumblr?

I created @animatedtext in 2012 as a space to share jokes and practice making 3D text. Shortly after that I started taking requests from followers. So you can say the 280K plus people submitting requests are also the masterminds.

In recent interviews you’ve mentioned that people always think you’re a white, straight man creating the GIFs. Why is it important to be visible as an openly gay Black woman?

I’ve been coming out my whole life. The first time I came out was age 13 when I told my family I was gay. The last time I came out was yesterday when my Uber driver asked if I had a boyfriend. Me being open about being a black lesbian is like being open about what I ate for breakfast. It’s the same way for me online.
At the beginning of running @animatedtext I used to get hundreds of DMs from people saying “bro you’re amazing” or “why are you making jokes about being a woman when you’re a man?” Not everything I make is tied back to my identity. So now my bio essentially says “a black lesbian made these.” The added bonus of being out is representation. For some people it won’t matter that I’m a black gay woman. But for some it means everything to know that their favorite popular blog is run by someone like them.

What communities do you identify with both online on Tumblr and IRL?

On Tumblr I mainly identify with the net art community and calligraphers. In my mind, @animatedtext will always be a part of the 2012 Tumblr transparent community where people who weren’t designers were making GIFs for fun. My personal life is significantly gayer. I actively volunteer at my local LGBT Center and participate in a lot of queer art shows.

What are some of the challenges you face when creating GIFs or running your blog?

Balancing time. I’m fortunate that @animatedtext has become so successful and gives me opportunities outside of my blog. Unfortunately, that creeps into the time I’d like to spend making GIFs or talking to my followers. The other challenge is presenting my gifs in new ways. Recently I’ve started to play around with lyric videos and animated text stock videos. Seeing my work featured on Broad City showed me that there’s no limit.


Talk to us about this original piece for the #BlackExcellence365 campaign. How does this emulate Black Excellence for you? 

This piece is a joke about strong black woman quotes. A lot of times black women are expected to keep it together no matter what. “Keep your head up Queen” and “be a strong black woman” are positive mottos that can become overwhelming. Sometimes you gotta drop your crown and lay your head on the keyboard. Black excellence just means being true to yourself. For me, that means not taking myself too seriously and encouraging other people to do the same.

Why is it important that people continue to make an effort showcase work done specifically by Black artists?

It’s important to continue to showcase Black artists because we offer a perspective that comes from an experience of anxieties and a feeling of otherness. Both of which are characteristics of great art.

What are the common asks in your inbox?

A lot of people ask me to make GIFs that they can use to ask their crush out. The internet is also going through a cowboy phase so I get many asks with the word yeehaw in it.


Originally posted by animatedtext

We’d suggest you follow @animatedtext to see her latest GIFs twirl and twist on your dashboard as she posts them, but we know you’re already following her. What a wise choice. 


Happy Women’s History Month, Tumblr! 🎉

For the past few years, Tumblr has celebrated Women’s History Month by honoring women who have continuously shaken up our world for the better. We’ve highlighted prominent women in their respective fields, signal-boosted those who were working for or speaking up about a worthy cause, and showcased incredible artists who deserve to be seen.

This year we’re doing more of the same—just a little bit differently. This year, we’re making a concerted effort to give the microphone to women of color, indigenous women, trans women, immigrant women, women who are refugees, women with disabilities, and all other types of women who face the effects of marginalization more than others.

Not all of us experience the world in the same way. Life experiences, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, gender identity, sexuality, immigration status, and so many other factors can determine how the world sees someone. We hope our interviews, celebrations, and all the other highlighting we do here on @action will allow you to see what it’s like for someone who may live a life that looks much, much different from your own. In continuation of our year-long #BlackExcellence365 celebration, we’ll be shining that spotlight a little more brightly on Black women.

Here is a glimpse of just some of the interviews and other celebrations on our calendar:

  • 3/5—An interview with Colombian artist Stefania Tejada (@stefaniatejada)
  • 3/8—Observance of International Women’s Day
  • 3/12—An interview with Game Designer Mitu Khandaker
  • 3/14—An interview with Brooklyn-based photographer Miranda Barnes (@mirandabarnes)
  • 3/18—An interview with Mexican-American artist Gabriella Sanchez (@thatnoisegallery)
  • 3/19—An interview with Game Designer Catt Small
  • 3/25—An interview with Nigerian activist Kawther Inuwa (@muslimarmy)
  • 3/27—A Celebration of #MuslimWomensDay2019 with @muslimgirlarmy
  • 3/29—An interview with Transgender parent, Kat Rohn (@trans-parenting)
  • 3/31—Honoring the International Day of Transgender Visibility Day with Kylie Wu (@transgirlnextdoor)

That’s not all. We want this to be a community effort. We want to hear from you. How are you honoring the women in your life? How does intersectional feminism shape your art, your writing, or even how you move through life? Let your followers know what’s on your mind by making a post and tagging it #Women’s History Month. We’ll be looking.