Let’s face it: 2020 has been rough. That’s why we’re looking to find moments of joy and pleasure this summer with our new series, Summer’s Not Cancelled.
I used to be really good at joy. As a kid, I used to dance in the basement of my cousin’s house with abandon, not worried about whether I looked good, or sexy, or not foolish. I can remember the pure, unmitigated JOY of moving so freely, and laughing so loudly with my family. I used to make joy a priority. I used to sit alone in my room with nothing but a notepad and Whitney Houston’s voice keeping me company as I made up stories. I would write worlds and create best friends. That made me so happy. I used to find so much joy in scratching my name on the sidewalk with chalk on a hot summer day, and making hopscotch out of nothing. I used to squeal with glee when the barrettes in my braids bounced with every hop. I used to feel so free.
I know now how radical that childhood joy was. Many Black girls don’t get to be innocent and carefree. Studies have shown that Black girls are viewed as “more adult-like” than white girls. Black women are more likely to die in this COVID-19 pandemic, and in childbirth, than white women. Anti-Black racism is killing us. To be free and joyful in the face of that bias is an act of resistance. To show joy amidst the images of Black bodies being killed by police is part of the fight for our humanity. When the world is on fire, there is nothing more revolutionary than a Black woman living her life out loud and with delight.
Even though I know all of this, as an adult, I’m not as good at joy. In the past few weeks of dealing with the pandemic, and fighting for Black lives, I’ve gone days chained to my laptop, forgetting to go outside and enjoy summer. Self-care should be a daily practice, but it’s more like a weekly maybe. I know that daring to be happy in a world that barely believes your life matters is part of the resistance. So, I’ve decided to approach joy like I do work. I will make time for it. I will prioritize boxing to “Eye Of The Tiger” because that brings me the most joy. I will dust off my yoga mat or spend an hour in a bubble bath with an obnoxious amount of candles and a good book just because I can. I will do things that make me smile big, like talking to Black women about their joy. Black joy can never be cancelled.
Here, 10 Black Canadian women tell us what brings them joy, and how being joyful in this moment is radical.