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Successful Black Man, also known as “Successful Negro”, is an advice animal image macro series featuring a photo of a black man dressed in business attire superimposed in front of a brown and beige color wheel background. The jokes typically employ a bait-and-switch format with the top caption appearing to set-up a stereotype about African Americans followed by a bottom caption rendering the phrase innocuous, in similar vein to the Ordinary Muslim Man advice animal character.
The original photograph of the suit-wearing black man (shown below, left) can be found on the stock photo website ShutterStock under the title “Handsome African American business man dressed in a black suit.” According to an anonymous e-mail sent to Know Your Meme staff from the creator of the image macro series, the idea was first inspired by reverse-discrimination discussions at work. Both the template (shown below, right) and original instances were first submitted in several threads on the imageboard 4chan before a page was made on the image macro creation website Meme Generator in 2010.
I am the creator of Successful negro and thought I would fill you in on the exact details. This email address and name are made up as I wish to remain Anonymous, but you may call me Michelle Gellar.
It originated on 4chan and THEN spread to memegenerator.net. I put it on memegenerator only because I grew tired of manually editing the image for each macro or request. I tested the idea in several threads on 4chan and posted the template on several occasions. When memegenerator.net updated their website, I lost access for editing the entry so I just left it to be. (You can still see some white pixels around the man and his suit where I cropped it from the original image, since I wasn’t able to upload a corrected version).
By far, the biggest challenge was finding an appropriate character. It took several tries to find the right “negro” but eventually I settled on what now exists. Thanks Google!
The meme initially continued to spread primarily on Meme Generator and 4chan’s /b/ (random) board. On February 25th, 2010, a compilation of notable examples from the series were submitted to the Internet humor site FunnyJunk by user SamuelOak, receiving over 39,000 views and 448 up votes within the next three years. On September 14th, the “Successful Black Man” Tumblr blog was launched, which continued highlighting image macros from the series until November of 2011. On November 5th, a slideshow of “Successful Negro” image macros were published on the Internet humor site Ebaumsworld. On December 28th, BodyBuilding Forums member aaandrew submitted a thread inviting other members to post their favorite examples from the series. On August 31st, the Internet news blog UpRoxx published an article about the series, calling it “borderline offensive, but hilarious.” On October 6th, an anonymous 4chan user started a “Successful Black Guy” thread on the site’s /b/ board, where it received over 115 responses prior to being archived.
As of January 2013, the “Successful Black Man” Meme Generator page has received over 26,000 items and the “Successful Black Man” Quickmeme page has accumulated over 40,000 submissions.
On January 15th, 2012, YouTuber TheWordsmithjr began uploading videos of himself acting out examples from the image macro series (shown below).