Updated: Nov 17, 2021
by Lakeland Barnes
Black joy in the face of oppression and death is the countermeasure oppressors had hoped we wouldn’t take.
Joy breeds hope, and it lifts the spirit—it breathes life into movements of today and of those to come. Oppression hates joy because joy gives way to hope, and hope gives way to faith, and faith gives way to progress.
To be joyful in the midst of oppression, is to tell the oppressors: “even though you may break my body, you can’t kill my soul.” Because it is our soul that affords us the ability to smile; it is our soul that tells us that morning will come, even in the midst of mourning.
To be Black and joyful is to be rebellious. For our lips to part and give way to laughter, is to be alive in the face of death. Black joy is rebellion because they hoped that if they abused and killed us enough, our spirit would die and our community would suffer. But still, we thrive—still we rise.
We’ve smiled, laughed, danced in spite of.
We’ve lived despite all.
We are a resilient people, and our joy showcases that in the muscles it takes to smile.
So smile, because that’s the days worst enemy: your joy.