Black Women’s Joy: A Purposeful Act of Resistance – Upspoken

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Self Care Culture

Black Women’s Joy: A Purposeful Act of Resistance


This weekend, I sat outside. Hands planted behind me and my legs stretched out front, tiny blades of grass gently tickling at my fingers and ankles. And as I pointed my face toward the sky with the sun raining down on my skin, making its hydrated melanin glow, I smiled.


I smiled for the family and friends who make sure I know I’m loved. For the goodness in people who have stepped up to care for each other in these tough times. I smiled for the mind and body that enables me to have a life fully lived. I smiled for moments of laughter so good that I’m driven to tears and for the cries with sobs so deep that anger and anxiety feel like they’ve been cut from my body with a knife. I smiled for the music that lives in my brain on repeat and the poetry that has etched tiny lines never to be forgotten upon my soul. I smiled for the small patch of earth that seemed cut out just for me to find the peace needed to carry me through the struggles ahead. 


And in that small smile, bathed in the warmth of sunlight, was joy.


This tiny moment was nothing special. Yet, there was so much power in the joy that sprung out of me. Joy that too often, we forget to celebrate, which is not to say we forget to be joyful. I mean we forget the depths of meaning in our joy because for Black women, joy is never simple and never just about being happy. Our joy is complex like the coily textures of our hair and the way our skin both reflects and absorbs light. For us, joy is happiness, but it is also a critical act of resistance to love ourselves and find pleasure in bodies that far too often the world tells us we should hate. For us, it’s finding strength where others only expect to find pain. For us…joy is defiance personified. 


That’s what makes Black women’s joy so deep and powerful. It is a defiant act of choosing happiness when the world has done everything to break us down. Within that simple act lies Black women’s capacity to lead with hope against centuries of oppression and be fly as hell while we do it. 


So this weekend, I took time to do nothing and be something for no one other than myself. As I pointed my face toward the sky, I sought out and found joy. And in that moment and all those that will follow, I resisted.