Black Joy: A Form of Activism

Jamaija Rhoades | Staff Writer

Image courtesy of Unsplash

Last year was such a solemn and somewhat bittersweet year for individuals of African descent. It was great to see everybody get informed or at least pretend like they were here for the cause. Still, it was also full of lots of responsibility with regard to educating others on the injustices we experience due to our skin color. 

While Black activism can take many shapes and forms, the method I see implemented most comes from education and reminders. Individuals of African descent continue to use their platforms to remind the rest of the world that, “Hey, life still pretty much sucks for us, and we aren’t going to let you forget it.” 

If anybody wants a breakdown of how horribly society has treated us for our differences, they can look in our films, hear it in our music, read it in our stories and even see it in our paintings. It feels like members of the community find it irresponsible to create anything about our experiences without highlighting the hardships and trauma we have experienced in the past and continue to share today.

This method of educating and reminding works to some degree to get our point across, but it also unintentionally convinces us that life is hopeless for Black folks and that we have no reason to be happy.

A radical yet simple form of activism that would be more beneficial to our mental health and our overall well-being is displaying more instances of Black people experiencing joy. 

I want to see more Black love, melanated smiles and embracing the beauty that is far from the westernized standards we all know far too well. More instances of Black kids being given the space to enjoy their youth without being reminded that their skin pigment makes them different from others. 

I want more instances of brown and Black children being able to watch a film about someone who looks like them, as it allows them to experience true escapism. It lets their imaginations run free without interruption. 

Simply seeing individuals who look like you finding happiness in a world that has convinced you that it is not available to you will create a sense of hope and strength that cannot be broken. 

“We live in a world in which our social environments are constantly reminding us of the injustices and negative things happening around us,” said Ciara White-Sparks, a Hampton University junior journalism major from Las Vegas. “If we are able to show more happiness in our communities, then it would create a ripple effect and influence more of us to see the good in this life.”

By finding happiness and showcasing Black people experiencing and enjoying life despite our circumstances, we have said in the most straightforward way possible: screw the system and its standards

In other words, nobody, not even the system of white supremacy, can take our pride, and nobody can hold us down.

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