Black Joy

2023 is the Year of Pleasure!

It’s that time of year…again.

Taking inventory of all the things we did (and didn’t accomplish). Creating goals focused on productivity, health and finances. The new year is the perfect time to reflect on the ways you can be a better you.

That’s all fine and good, but personally, I’ve decided to shift my focus from how to make myself better for the new year and instead focus on how I can feel better.

Think about it.

The past few years have been filled with endless grief for many of us. Losing loved ones, often abruptly, to the pandemic. Police violence that didn’t let up as we simultaneously ducked and dodged an unknown virus. Not to mention an onslaught of legislation intended to suppress the rights of women, queer folks and people of color.

We have been living under unreasonable conditions and, somehow, we are here. Alive and walking into a New Year. This is why my resolution for the new year is centering pleasure in my everyday life by any means. And you should consider making it one of yours, too.

You can start by thinking of all the things that brought you joy THIS YEAR. Was it spending time with friends? Being out in Nature? Whatever it was, consider putting it at the top of your “things to do” list for 2023!

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– Dani

We are what we practice

Like any good habit, it takes lots of practice to incorporate pleasure into your life. And while it’s easier said than done, it is 100% worth it.

For instance, do you have any health goals on your resolution list? Well, studies have shown that laughter helps with stress management, relieves pains and even increases immunity. This is one small step towards bringing pleasure into your life for the new year.

Ultimately, it’s all about figuring out what pleasure looks and feels like to you.

Speaking of which, I recently spoke with Nubia Bennett, a creative, mom, self-proclaimed pleasure seeker and host of the Sprinkle Sparkle podcast which “celebrates Black women and people of marginalized genders prioritizing pleasure as an act of defiance.” Nubia and I talked about what pleasure means to her and why we should be seeking it out in all that we do.

What does pleasure mean to you?

Pleasure is what you’re drawn to. It’s something that leads you to who you are and [is] a celebration of who you are and what you are. . . it’s an imperfect journey of joy seeking. Its resistance, it’s so many things.

I would almost argue that it’s the process of seeking your own wholeness. . . For me, it’s been the process of finding out what that [wholeness] is and what it looks like and how it feels.

I know the podcast specifically centers women and other marginalized genders. Why do you think it’s important for Black women and other marginalized genders to prioritize pleasure in their lives?

[In my podcast interview] with Dr. Kaila Story . . . one of the things she said is that [it is] very deeply rooted in this Black feminist idea that if you are marginalized, just seeking your own fullness despite that, and because of it, is an act of resistance. So, it’s important for that reason. Even if you’re not out on the picket line fighting the power, or whatever the case may be, you are still actively resisting by being committed to living your best full life, even in moments that are hard, because life is hard. If you have any level of a marginalized identity, it’s hard, and it gets harder if you have multiple [marginalized identities]. So, it’s important for all marginalized bodies to really just lean in on what feels good. I mean, it can be on a whim, like, ‘I want some ice cream today’ . . . but also in a very deep way, like, ‘I want to live my life this way’ despite being persecuted on so many levels every single day.

So being committed to [pleasure], not only is an act of resistance, but it also allows you to continue that work of existing every day . . . Everybody should do it because access is limited by all these oppressive things. . . the fact is [pleasure] belongs to us because we exist, but also because it allows [us to exist with] ease.

We’re on the heels of 2023. And this is a time of year where everybody’s trying to make resolutions and set intentions. What advice do you have for folks who want to prioritize pleasure in their lives for the new year, but don’t know where to start? And I’m thinking of that question in terms of, for a lot of Black women and a lot of Black nonbinary and Trans folks it’s so hard to find pleasure in this world. So, any advice on a first step?

I think starting small, like, ‘I want to do this thing for me today.’ But also, as you’re starting small and making these decisions that can sometimes feel really large . . . reframe it: ‘Is this pouring into me? Is this bringing me joy?’ Asking those questions and really answering them? Because a lot of people don’t even know what feels good.

[To paraphrase a quote from] Ingrid LaFleur, ‘Look at the moment that you’re in. Every moment should be pleasurable in some way. And if it’s not, you have the right to just stop and say, I don’t have to do this.’ It doesn’t have to be that complicated. And if you can’t make it pleasurable, make it meaningful. And that is also part of that journey.

Make that decision to lean into [pleasure] . . . don’t overthink that, and then you always have the right to change it. Or reframe it if you can’t change it.

The top songs that brought us joy in 2022

2023 is almost upon us. But before we make that shift, let’s celebrate some of the Black Joy that helped us get through this year.

From Beyonce’s Renaissance album to Cardi B’s iconic “Tomorrow” verse, Black music excelled this year. Our Black Joy Social Reporter, Daric Cottingham rounds up the top songs that brought us catharsis, tears, and, most importantly, joy.

Coming in at number 5 is none other than Tomorrow 2 by GloRilla & Cardi B.

The Memphis rapper, GloRilla, hit the scene with her summer hit “F.N.F (Let’s Go).” But her team-up with Cardi B on “Tomorrow 2″ is the undeniable track that solidifies her rise in the music industry. The two MCs match each other’s cocky energy and bold delivery throughout the remix. The track’s message is clear: “Everyday the sun won’t shine, but that’s why I love tomorrow.

Check out the rest of the songs that brought us joy in 2022.

5 books that brought us joy in 2022

We were back outside this year in a major way, but we did manage to be still enough to read a few books in 2022.

These are books by Black authors that changed how we think and brought us joy in those quiet moments between catching flights and catching feels on the dance floor.

Here’s a preview of the list featuring a pick from our Black Joy editor, Minda Honey:

Inciting Joy by Ross Gay

Every time Ross Gay puts out a book about a seemingly uplifting topic – joy, delight, gratitude – I run right out and buy it. And every time I’m walloped by the weight of all that joy, delight and gratitude entail – sorrow, sadness, heartbreak and pain. Generally, I’d say this behavior makes me a fool, but there’s nothing foolish about rushing to drink in the wisdom in Gay’s words. At a recent reading, he told the audience he chose the title of his book as testament to all that has attempted to deny us the joy in life — and yet, here we are.

You can find more about the books that brought us joy this year on our site.

Ending the year on a beautiful note

A look back on this year in Black Joy.

The Black Joy team has grown so much in the past few months, and we managed to end the year with some amazing content. To wrap things up, our Black Joy editor, Minda Honey, shares some final thoughts on our 2022 best of Black joy moments:

“The Black Joy team weaved silver linings out of dark days to remind y’all that abundance is always ours. We celebrated Brittney Griner’s return home. We showed our support for Meg and shared the wealth of mental health resources she created. We were relieved when clean drinking water was restored to Jackson, but we know the city is deserving of so much more, so we believe in the strength of community to provide when the powers that be fail us. Black Joy is an essence that exists within us all. And when we come together with the intention of Black care, we have the power to create our own sunshine even where darkness exists.”

Read more about the 2022 Best of Black joy on our website.

Happy New Year! See y’all next time!

Danielle Buckingham

Danielle Buckingham

Danielle Buckingham (she/her), affectionately known as Dani Bee, is Reckon’s Black Joy Reporter, and a Chicago-born, Mississippi-raised writer based in Oxford, Mississippi. A 2021 Lambda Literary fellow, her work has been published in MadameNoire, Midnight & Indigo Literary Magazine, Raising Mothers, and elsewhere.

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