maintaining black joy during black trauma
this week has been a tough week for me. for just about the entire black community. first we mourned alton sterling and barely 24 hours later we had to add salt to a wound we had just opened with the name philando castile. this is not taking into consideration the healing we still must do from sandra bland. from tamir rice. from rekia boyd. from mya hall. from keith davis jr. from tyrone west. from freddie gray.
i found myself breaking down during the day. barely able to focus on my work. the names, they keep adding up. there's a hurt for each name. to be black in this country is to constantly mourn. our body. our mind. our being are constantly mourning.
but you see. we as black people are a resilient people. we have defied the odds with our existence. we can pull strength from spaces we didn't know existed. we can pull joy. this black joy is what will keep us fighting. this black joy is necessary to our mental health. as much as we live in trauma we also must live in joy.
when i think of black joy in the face of black trauma i think of lucille clifton saying:
black joy is:
"before i let go" being played at the cookout and all the older folks getting up to dance.
it is grabbing on to whoever is next to you even if they are a stranger when "swag surfin'" comes on.
it is "premiere gaou" coming on at the african party and my mother jumping on the dance floor.
it is singing "we gon' be alright" at the protests.
it is me twisting my hair while dancing around to sara tavares "balance"
you see. black joy has always been our secret weapon. against all odds, we have held on to our joy. without joy, this movement will not be sustained.
with black joy comes self-care. you cannot have one without the other. we must make sure we are practicing self care consistently.
bake your favorite pie. love on your lover. get your nails done. go shopping. take a walk. take a trip to a waterfall. joy comes from self-care.
maintaining your black joy may mean disconnecting for some time. it may mean not going to that protest. it may mean watching your favorite show instead. talking about 200 dollar dates instead. it is okay to not always be immersed in the work 24/7 in order to preserve not only your joy but your mental health.
black joy does not mean not feeling that pain. feel it. cry it out. scream it out. do as you must to cope. then self care. black joy is what comes after self-care. once you have healed.
when you find yourself without joy, remember that everyday white supremacy has tried to kill our spirit and everyday it fails and because of this, we must celebrate.
black joy is resistance. it is revolutionary.