Black Joy

By Sharonda Davis, DKC Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Director

When asked to write an essay for Black History Month, I thought instead that I would simply write about Black Joy. Black Joy is my resistance to all the “ists” and “isms.” It’s a form of resistance and a reminder that I am a member of a dynamic group of people that are so much more nuanced and rounded than the awful things inflicted on us.

Black joy is love, in both the noun and verb form. Black joy looks like cornrowing our friend’s hair on a park bench. Taking Big Mama to run errands so she can show you off to her friends, fishing with Big Daddy and enjoying the quiet on the river. Black joy is running through fields with cousins giggling, babysitting your relatives’ children and letting them watch scary movies, it is making dances in the living room to perform at a talent show or on Tik Tok. Black joy looks like boys hyping up the girls at the double dutch contest in the neighborhood and the girls getting cute to watch the boys play ball.

Black joy is Sundays filled with long distance & international phone calls to loved ones and hearing the latest news from back home. Black joy are those moments in the kitchen when the elders teach you to perfect the family recipes and hone your eye to learn ancestral measurements like “a whole heap, a pinch, a dash, and a little bit more”. Black joy is music of previous generations’ music playing in the background while flipping through the family photo album learning of the faces & places our family had been.

Black joy is excitement for college acceptance letters. It is the church, former babysitters and educators telling you to stop by before you leave for school and they hand you envelopes. Black joy is your family dropping you off to your dorm and telling you how proud they are. Black joy is phone calls from family and friends encouraging you through difficult times at school. Black joy is family friends that live near your school inviting you to dinner to ease the sadness of missing your family. Black joy is the sound of balloons bursting, air horns sounding, and thunderous applause when your name is called as you walk across the stage.

Black joy is sack races, BBQ sauce competitions, and spades & dominos at the family BBQ. It’s the bonds and teasing that ensue when you bring your “boo” to meet the family. Black joy is your family giving you and your new spouse family heirlooms as wedding presents and making sure you two jump the broom. Black joy is the tears that well in eyes when news of the family expanding makes the rounds. Black joy is your family fighting to cook for your baby shower so folks can have those legendary plates.

Black joy is resting & relaxing. Black joy is booking a trip with your friends to explore parts unknown. Black joy is a luxurious five-star trip or sipping tea out a mason jar on the porch during a hot summer day. Black joy is trips back home to the south, the Caribbean, or Africa and being loved on by our family. Black joy is what fuels our creativity and allows us to create music and produce sounds the world never knew were possible. Black joy is what fuels our hearty loud laughter, Black joy is what powers our ingenuity and has the world still trying to understand “how” millennia later. Black joy is filling, it’s comforting, it is noisy, it’s multi- generational and is the sacred pulse that runs through our veins.

Black joy is!

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