Black people have been joyous since 1619, although dating back to 1619, the lives of Black people have been far from ideal, equal, or just. We’ve always found and rooted ourselves in joy no matter the circumstances surrounding our injustices.
Similar to other critical junctures in American history where we inched towards the precipice of change, we need to channel that joy–Black joy–now more than ever.
Black joy might look like Zoom calls with family and friends. It might be a socially distanced bike ride. It might be a solo dance party in your living room because that’s exactly what you need to feel like yourself. No matter the form this joy takes, find it, bathe yourself in it, and take stock of the moments where you find yourself happy in your own skin.
When I was given “the talk” about driving while Black in high school, I didn’t know it then, but I’d grow to appreciate–adore, even– the sense of duty and responsibility my family felt towards my life. They knew my Black skin would make my existence more difficult than it should be, and if I had any hope of experiencing the joy I was deserving of, I’d first need a clear understanding of the things that could strip me of it.
Black parents have long known that their Black children would never truly be safe in America. So while many may deem it overprotective parenting or some measure of extreme correction, they equip us with invisible armor before we step out into a racist and unforgiving society. Part of that prep work is purely for the survival of the Black lives they hold dear, but it’s also a proactive measure to allow their children to experience joy by both avoiding or escaping potential trauma.
Finding moments of joy while navigating survival is something Black folks have been doing forever. The work isn’t easy, but being ok, and experiencing joy in those moments, represents the resilience we need to ensure that Black Lives Matter now and forever.