The Restorative Power Of Black Joy And Community

The Restorative Power Of Black Joy And Community

Although three years have passed since the whirlwind that was 2020, I finally feel like I am settling into a state of rest, joy, and relaxation after two and a half years of feeling burnt out, overwhelmed, and overworked. During that time, I wrote the proposal for my book, Owning Our Struggles, which will debut on August 22nd. It has been a wonderful journey writing, reflecting, and reveling in what it means to own our struggles, pain, and tragedy in order to make room for joy, love, and liberation.

As I was writing, I found myself immersed in the concept of Black joy and cultural healing. I am a first-generation American who identifies as Black-Hispanic and Afro-Latina. My parents are from Colon, Panama, and San Andres, Colombia. As a child, my parents did not understand mental health concepts or disorders like anxiety and depression, but they were strong advocates for healing and ensuring that joy remained at the center of our lives despite the challenges or hardships we faced.

The lessons they taught me came back to me as I wrote Owning Our Strugglesand reflected on the world of hurt, pain, chaos, and tragedy that surrounds me and the feelings of powerlessness that often arise. Being Black in America can be tough, but it also feels beautiful when I see how Black culture continuously moves the needle in society and our role in advancing our communities and liberating ourselves from oppression.

The celebration of Black joy and the process of cultural healing are critical components of the Black community's resilience and survival. Black joy is a radical act, especially given Black people's historical and ongoing oppression and marginalization. It is a way of resisting the negative stereotypes and narratives that have been perpetuated about Black people for centuries. By celebrating Black joy, we claim our humanity and our right to exist fully and joyfully.

Here are six ways to celebrate Black joy and engage in cultural healing:

Connect with your roots:

Learn about your cultural heritage and traditions. This can involve exploring your family history, learning about the history of your ancestors, and the cultural traditions that have been passed down through generations. By reconnecting with your roots, you can better understand where you come from and how your cultural identity shapes who you are today.

Celebrate cultural events and holidays:

Participate in cultural events and holidays that hold significance for you and your community. Whether it's attending a Juneteenth celebration, a Kwanzaa gathering, or a Black History Month event, these celebrations can provide an opportunity for cultural healing and a sense of community.

Engage in creative expression: 

Engage in creative activities that allow you to express your emotions and experiences. This can include writing, visual art, music, dance, or spoken word. Creative expression can be a powerful tool for processing emotions, healing from trauma, and celebrating joy.

Support Black-owned businesses: 

Supporting Black-owned businesses is a way to celebrate Black joy and support economic empowerment within the Black community. Whether buying from a Black-owned restaurant, boutique, or service provider, we can continue supporting our people and communities through financial investments.

Build community: 

Building community with other Black individuals and allies can be a powerful way to celebrate Black joy and engage in cultural healing. This can involve joining a social group, attending community events, or volunteering with a local organization that supports the Black community.

Practice self-care: 

Practicing self-care is critical to cultural healing and celebrating Black joy. This can involve taking the time to rest, engaging in activities that bring you joy, prioritizing your mental and physical health, or seeking out support from a therapist or mental health professional.

By embracing Black joy and cultural healing, we resist and disrupt systems of oppression and claim our humanity and right to exist joyfully and fully. Let us continue to give ourselves the life we know we deserve and reclaim the power of community. Order my book, Owning Our Struggles, to gain more tools and exercises on Black joy and liberation.

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