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Honoring Black Joy

By Leahnora Azad
Representation of Black Joy is restorative. It is paramount to extend that joy is possible and necessary to access. 

While much of Black History has been documented with tribulation, it's necessary to know the depths of exuberant joy and love have also been felt by the Black Community and extended with the entire world. 

The Black Community's wholeness and indelible contributions to the world have gone untold and fictitiously masked within the public gaze. Despite this, the collective Black Body has rippled vivid contributions to every aspect of our human experience.

As we celebrate these contributions, it is vital to express that the accessibility of joy should not be contingent exclusively on what we can offer but is a human right. With the proliferation of Black History and presence in a trauma-inflicted context, it's essential to amplify the Black Experience as equally sculpted with tenderness, resilience, and beauty.

This Black History Month, stellar voices in our community testify to the power joy truly has in our lives. They touch on claiming space, reclaiming autonomy, self-love, and community each day while envisioning a legacy of equity for generations to come.



What makes joy a radical act of resistance?

Joy fosters resilience.

It’s a sign not only of life but of life thriving and for me, that’s what makes it a radical act of resistance. I intentionally choose joy by remembering that life is coming from me. Sometimes focusing all of our attention on fighting the injustices of the world can be exhausting so it’s important to anchor joy in our lives. It gives us positive energy.  

What self-care rituals help you to create joy for yourself?

I have a “gratitude” jar of sorts; every day I write down one good thing that happened that day and add it to the jar. Then at the end of the year, I read everything back to myself. Joy is an attitude/state of mind and must be cultivated internally. Taking the time to reflect on the positives in my daily life helps me to create joy for myself.

What Self-Care ritual anchors you in joy?

ZR: I personally make it my business to have a self care Monday. Monday is a fresh start of the week. So, while my daughter is off to school and my fiancé is off to work, I have that time to myself. I’ll get my nails done, have breakfast and lunch dates by myself. Every Queen should have a solo date, it helps with loving yourself more.

What do you want people to know about the realities of being a Black Woman in the beauty space? 

ZR: It's hard! we can be stereotyped and/or judged before the person even knows our name, let alone our business. True story: I just recently had a no call no show by a white woman because I believed she found out my wax studio is a black owned business. The beauty business has made some improvement  by making more foundation for our skin tone and having more black owned brands like Rihanna Fentys and Danessa Myricks  in the world but they still have a long way to go. We need a major Black Owned beauty wholesaler. Bring back our Black Wall Street!

What about Black Culture makes you feel pride and love? 

ZR: Just being BLACK makes me proud, knowing I came from a Black Queen, who came from a Black Queen, and now raising a Black  Princess to become a Black Queen makes me even more proud. My culture sets trends from style to music. We will represent and fight for each. This melanin runs deep and comes in different shades and I LOVE IT.

Be sure to check out Zoe Ray's Youtube channel for BTS moments in the life of a mother and full time makeup artist!


Brianna, CoFounder of The Switch Podcast

Describe parts of Black Culture that make you feel pride and love.

B: There are many examples within Black culture that make me feel pride and love, but the most prominent is how, despite all of the hardships our community faces,
we persevere. We make time and space for Black Joy, we smile, we laugh, we succeed, and we always will. Black Joy is the heart of the Black community and anchored as an ongoing act of resistance no matter the circumstances. We build each other up and rejoice in our love for each other.

How do you envision abundance for the Black Community?

B: To me, abundance for the Black Community is simply being seen and treated as equal. We want to live our lives knowing and feeling we are valued just like any other human should be. It is our right to be valued, recognized, and loved.

This goes for all aspects of recognition, in the government, workplace, beauty industry etc.

On being Afro-Latina-Black and Mexican

B: As an Afro-Latina beauty content creator, I feel privileged and obligated to reflect and recognize both sides of who I am. It can be confusing at times when you are mixed, and wondering, well where do I fit in? I have felt this way before, and I found that I fit into all of the cultures within myself. I embrace all of who I am, and feel most like myself when doing so. Our differences are what makes human connection so special.


Latia, Professional Makeup Artist

On Black Joy as a Radical Act of Resistance

The topic also reminds me so much of one of my heroes, Audré Lorde….

“Caring for myself is not an act of self-indulgence. It is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.” - Audré Lorde

I feel it my duty to exist as freely and joyously as possible; laughing in the face of oppressors….dancing on the graves of the patriarchy. 

In my mind, every single act of Black joy and self-cars is an inch closer to our collective liberation.

So much of Blackness in America is equates with deep pain, sorrow, aching, and a longing. But so much of Blackness in America can also be joyful, proud, celebratory.

Hell, Black Americans and The Black Imagination will invent a trend and the world will quickly follow suit.

An act of resistance, yes, but every act of Black joy is a step closer to liberation. And liberation is the ultimate showing of love.


Mailee, Clean Beauty Digital Creator

How do you anchor joy in everyday life?

I experience joy through my family -- the strongest bond and experience I can have. Joy is such a powerful act of resistance because it is not based on circumstances, but is fueled from an inner well of faith.

Capri Latimore, Professional Makeup Artist

In what ways do you reclaim your narrative in daily life?

CL: I show up as me, unapologetically, everyday and if I feel something is not right, I will speak up!

What self-care rituals anchors you in joy?

CL: I love to read every morning, it helps me shape my mindset for the day and makes me feel renewed.

How is joy a powerful act of resistance in your life?

CL: Joy is a powerful act of resistance in my life because it reminds me that I have a choice. I can choose joy and feel resilience

What about Black Culture makes you feel pride and love?

CL: Black Culture makes me feel powerful and that I can overcome anything. We have overcome many adversities and we still rise to the occasion. 

 Je'May , Clean Beauty Digital Creator

What self-care rituals help you to create joy for yourself?

J: Spending time with people who genuinely make me feel happy, fulfilled, and like my goofy self! Romanticizing the little things in life, such as getting dressed up for no reason, making myself breakfast, or catching the sunset in nature! Appreciating how far I've come and giving thanks to God for all the opportunities presented to me as a creative, in my relationships, and day to day life.

Whether it's a self-care ritual, envisioning abundance, or basking in the artistry of one's existence, we're moved by how our community reasserts joy in their everyday lives. 

As allies, friends, and human beings, we invite you in and beyond Black History Month to immerse in a deepened understanding of the experiences of the Black Community, and the role joy has in collective healing. 





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