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How Is Black Joy a Form of Resistance?

black joy


Twitter Handle: @_codykeith_
Pronouns: He/Him
Associations: Reclaiming Anger Blog, Creator of @SJEchat

This world tells me constantly that this Black, fat, queer body does not deserve joy.

Not ever.

It tells me that my trauma should consume me. It tells me that I should wait patiently, expecting violence at any moment. It tells me that joy can never reside here, in my body; only shame, guilt, and struggle can sleepover.

But I got another plan in mind. I’m going to claim joy for myself. I’m going to wrestle it down to the ground- bypassing fear and guilt when I’m able to.

Like the enchanting gap in Baldwin’s teeth, Marsha’s vast and vibrant flowery hats, Fantasia’s ministering of Stormy Weather with her smooth and penetrating voice, and Audre’s resting “I know better than you” face (because she actually does know better than you)- I must remember that my joy is unclockable, untouchable, undeniable, and inherently a part of me. "The caged bird sings with / A fearful trill of things unknown / But longed for still and his / Tune is heard on the distant hill / For the caged bird sings of freedom.”

Like Maya’s trilling caged bird and Janet’s defiant realness, Mock and Jackson- my joy is alive, and worth fighting for. I am more than the violence committed against my body. I am capable of more than ducking, diving, shifting, contorting, and blocking. I am more than the reactionary being I often inhabit. I am beyond living for the white orchestra, pleading to the non-Black people of color who have pledged their allegiance to whiteness (consequently, ensuring their own demise), and pleasing the Black cis-hetero gaze. If liberation is the Sunday roast cooking in the cast iron pot, then Black joy is the rich smell that fills our homes. Engaging futures, engaging hope, engaging creation, and engaging joy is paramount in sustaining movements. And because I’m the Beyoncé of my life, loving myself is enough of a reason to seek the joy that will sustain me.

Black Joy is resistance. And Black Joy is tradition.

Today I’m not interested in exploring struggle, I’m choosing to center Black Joy.

On the following pages are Black brilliant minds at a variety of beautiful intersections, complicating Black Joy. Perhaps, this will serve as a survival kit for the rainy days upon us.

EnJoy Blamily!


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