But…were we? Honestly, even though I was an unemployed disaster at the time (damn you, financial crash of 2008), I wasn’t buying it. I was surrounded by phenomenal women of all ages— smart, independent, loving, laughing, and mostly having a blast. Sure, we ran up against our fair share of career challenges and dating woes, all great fodder for lively brunch conversation. But to us, the challenges of early adulthood did not seem like an omen of lifelong singledom and misery. I couldn’t help but wonder: Where on television were my Black sisters I knew, who were striving, thriving, and fighting to be their best selves, despite all the demands this world places on our minds, bodies, and souls? I wanted to see that show, and it wasn’t there. So I decided to create it.
A decade has passed since I wrote my very first draft, and much has changed. The hysteria of the doomed single Black woman has faded, and instead we proudly acknowledge that #BlackGirlsRock and celebrate #BlackGirlMagic and scream out in protest that #BlackLivesMatter. We are also very tired. We are so very tired of waking up to cell phone videos of dead Black bodies in the streets. We clamor for justice and hunger for escapism—for joy.
Run the World was written with the intention to bring joy through the journey of four loving, devoted sister-friends. It is specific and small, authentic and truthful, and deeply joyous.
For many of us, the heaviness of this social-political moment is inescapable. Black joy is not a rebuttal to Black trauma, nor is it a cure. Black joy is the thing we have, the thing we keep for ourselves—a sacred way in which we are able to laugh, to breathe, to smile through the darkest of moments, to survive and thrive, even when the persistence of racism seems to be unyielding. I want us to have this show right now. I want us to gather and laugh and cheer for these girls and have a 30-minute respite in our week from the madness. We need this show, because the horrific series we’re watching on our phones has been given far too many seasons, and desperately needs to be canceled.
I believe that protecting your peace, shielding your spirit, and nurturing your joy is protest. I believe watching smart, ambitious Black women striving to live their best lives is impactful. I believe making Harlem the entryway for experiencing modern New York City can be informative and aspirational, and I think watching healthy Black love can be transformational.
In this moment, Black images are always made political, and while I don’t know if any of us can explain what it means to be political in 2021, I will conclude with this: Right now there are billboards in Los Angeles and Big Red buses in New York City with posters that read, Run the World. Next to those words is an image of four stunning young Black women. If that’s political, I’m here for it.