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The Dual Connotations of “Black Excellence”: Unpacking the Good and the Bad

The phrase Black Excellence has become a widely recognized term to celebrate the achievements and success of Black individuals in a society that often seems structured for their failure. While the intentions behind using this term are largely positive, it's important to explore the potential implications and understand its impact on the Black community.

At its core, Black Excellence is about recognizing and uplifting the accomplishments of Black people, creating a sense of pride and unity. One definition describes it as "our ancestor's wildest dreams" and "the lifeblood of what keeps us going when it seems our humanity is being questioned." This perspective emphasizes the importance of collective growth and progress within the Black community.

However, there is another side to Black Excellence that may change how we view its impact. When seen as a mentality, the term takes on a new meaning, focusing on continuous action and progress without discrediting external factors that may hinder success. This mindset promotes self-love and solidarity, acknowledging the systemic challenges faced by Black individuals while celebrating their achievements.

The potential issue arises when Black Excellence is used to describe a single act or accomplishment, rather than a continuous journey or collective effort. This approach may inadvertently create limitations or a sense of complacency within the Black community. By understanding the different interpretations and implications of Black Excellence, we can foster a more inclusive and empowering conversation surrounding this powerful term.

What is “Black Excellence”?

“Black Excellence” is a phrase frequently used in the American community to celebrate the accomplishments of black individuals. While it has no specific origin, its intention is generally positive. However, it is essential to understand both the good and bad implications of using this phrase.

The Positive Definition of “Black Excellence”

According to Urban Dictionary, “Black Excellence” is defined as “Someone that is black and portrays great qualities and abilities that make the black community proud.” However, this definition does not fully capture the significance of the phrase. Black excellence is more than just a singular action or a hashtag. It is a lifestyle and a mindset that promotes black self-love and solidarity while acknowledging the systemic racism within America. Black excellence is about continuous action towards the advancement of the black community.

Black excellence, as a mindset, encourages individuals to look within themselves and act in ways that progress their communities while recognizing the impact of external forces. Essentially, it is a way to celebrate black accomplishments against the backdrop of a society structured to hinder the progression of black people. By equating black excellence to a mindset expressed through continuous action, it encourages blacks to strive towards achieving the goals of their ancestors and promoting the progress of their community.

The Negative Definition of “Black Excellence”

The negative connotation of “Black Excellence” arises when it is used to describe a singular act or a set of actions. When this phrase is used to describe a single achievement, it creates an implication of complacency. It suggests that the achievement is enough and there is no need to continue to strive for excellence.

This use of “Black Excellence” as a term to describe a singular work is where the potential for this phrase to be restraining to the black community lies. It restricts the idea of black excellence to only one action and limits the recognition of the continuous effort and progress towards the advancement of the black community.

Overall, “Black Excellence” is a term that can have both positive and negative connotations. When used to describe a mindset, it promotes the progress of the black community, black self-love, and solidarity. However, when used to describe a singular act or a set of actions, it can limit the recognition of continuous effort and progress towards excellence.

The Positive Implications of “Black Excellence”

“Black Excellence” is a term that has gained popularity in recent years as a way to celebrate and acknowledge the achievements of black individuals. However, this phrase goes beyond just recognizing accomplishments. “Black Excellence” is a multifaceted concept that can be seen as both an action and a mindset, each with their own positive implications for the black community.

Black Excellence as an Action

Black Excellence as an action refers to the idea of black individuals upholding their community and striving for the betterment of all. This type of “Black Excellence” is not just about individual achievement, but rather a focus on how those achievements can benefit the black community as a whole. It is about using one's success to help uplift others and break down systemic barriers that hold back the community as a whole.

One example of this type of “Black Excellence” is seen in the work of Bryan Stevenson, a lawyer and social justice activist known for his work in exonerating wrongly convicted black individuals. His work not only helps individuals regain their freedom but also brings attention to the systemic issues within the criminal justice system that disproportionately affect black people. His actions serve as a reminder of the importance of using one's success to benefit the community as a whole.

Black Excellence as a Mindset

Black Excellence as a mindset goes beyond individual actions and is more about a way of thinking that can lead to continuous progress. This type of “Black Excellence” recognizes the challenges faced by black individuals in a society that is structured against them and encourages them to persist in spite of these obstacles. It is about promoting black self-love and unity while also acknowledging the systemic racism that exists within society.

One example of this type of “Black Excellence” is seen in the work of activist and writer Angela Davis. Her work focuses on promoting black liberation and solidarity while also acknowledging the ways in which systemic racism has hindered progress. Her approach encourages a mindset of continuous action and progress towards a better future for black individuals.

Overall, the concept of “Black Excellence” can have positive implications for the black community when it is viewed as both an action and a mindset. It is about promoting unity and progress towards a better future, while also acknowledging the challenges faced by black individuals in a society that is structured against them. By embracing “Black Excellence” as both an action and a mindset, black individuals can continue to achieve great things while also uplifting their community as a whole.

The Negative Implications of “Black Excellence”

While the term "Black Excellence" is often used to celebrate the achievements of Black people, it can have negative implications that hinder Black progress. Here are some of the ways in which the phrase can be detrimental to the community:

Restraining Black Progress

When the term "Black Excellence" is used to describe the achievement of a single individual, it can create the illusion that only exceptional individuals can succeed. This can lead to the belief that systemic racism is not an issue and that Black people who have not achieved high levels of success are simply not working hard enough. This mentality can prevent Black people from organizing and working together to make progress as a community, instead of relying on the actions of a few individuals.


Another negative implication of "Black Excellence" is complacency. When Black people are told that they are exceptional, they may become comfortable with their achievements and stop striving for progress. This can lead to a lack of motivation for personal and community growth, ultimately hindering Black progress. It is important to celebrate successes, but it should not come at the cost of continued growth and progress.


Finally, the term "Black Excellence" can be used to tokenize Black individuals. When a Black person succeeds, they may be used as a token to prove that systemic racism does not exist. This can place undue pressure on Black people to succeed and overlook the barriers that they face in doing so. It also perpetuates the idea that only exceptional Black individuals can succeed, rather than acknowledging the systemic issues that limit Black progress.


In conclusion, the phrase “Black Excellence” can hold both positive and negative implications depending on its context and usage. When used to describe a singular action or achievement, “Black Excellence” can be limiting and may imply complacency. However, when perceived as a mindset expressed through continuous action, “Black Excellence” becomes a powerful tool for promoting black self-love, solidarity, and progress. By recognizing the roadblocks placed in the way of black individuals by systemic racism within America, “Black Excellence” as a mindset empowers the black community to celebrate their achievements against the backdrop of a race-based society structured to hinder their progression. In order to fully understand the implications of the phrase “Black Excellence,” it is important to consider both its positive and negative connotations and strive to use it in a way that uplifts and celebrates the black community.

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