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This newsletter is supposed to start off with something meaningful. Something poignant. Something that’s insightful and profound.
To keep it real with y’all, I don’t think any words can truly match the energy I feel about the growth of the Black Joy brand. Last week, we welcomed our latest new hire to the family. Danielle Buckingham will work alongside me reporting on all things jubilant and Black.
Alongside. That word feels invigorating to write after sustaining this brand alone for more than five years. I remember when I first started Black Joy’s predecessor, Black Magic Project. After chasing down breaking news as a night reporter, I would “clock out” around 11 p.m./midnight only to push through my exhaustion and stumble over sentence structures as I worked on positive stories from my community until dawn. And writing was only half the battle. I also had to wrestle with social media algorithms as I tried to promote stories online. I energized and empowered myself with an affirmation from Beyonce’s “Formation”:
I see it, I want it, I stunt, yellow-bone it
I dream it, I work hard, I grind ‘til I own it
It was a tiring time, but the voices of my community deserved to be heard in an industry with a history of profiting off Black trauma. I’m glad I continued to bet on my people. Now a series that focused on the melanin magic of Alabama has evolved into a nationwide brand focusing on the different ways we as Black people cultivate liberating joy in our lives. And a team of one is now a family of five who brings a spectrum of Black talent to the table.
I don’t regret the sleepless nights that made this blessing possible. Around this time last year, I was penning this newsletter during the darkest moments of my life. The details of that is for another time, but long story short, the test became the testimony. The newsletter’s triple-digit percentage growth was occurring during those bleak days. I discovered a truth I didn’t internalize until I saw the numbers on paper: Abundance is always ours.
Chronicling and archiving y’all’s brightest moments has taught me this: Black joy is a birthright. It doesn’t bow down to the presence of oppression. It thrives despite it. It’s a legacy built up over generations – an everlasting life force you can always tap into even when you forget it’s there.
The way our journeys begin doesn’t determine how it will end. I hope your journey of joy is similar to mine, that it leads you to something meaningful, poignant, insightful and profound because you are all those glorious things.
Before the rest of the Black Joy fam says hello to you, we’re gonna hear from our Reckon sis Alexis Wray about some Black joy in the HBCU space. As always, shoot this newsletter to your loved ones so they can stay in the loop on what’s going on with #TeamAllSpice.
Stocking up on the wealth at HBCUs
Lex Wray is my name, and HBCUs are my game. When it comes to Black joy, nothing makes me happier than seeing the HBCU community win.
As Reckon’s HBCU and Blackness reporter, stories based on more than just surviving but thriving is what I seek, and this week I found it when America’s richest Black man Robert F. Smith encouraged a pathway of wealth building for HBCU and minority serving institutions students.
The launch of his new Student Investment Program plans to provide 500 HBCU and MSI students with $1000 to invest and grow their own stock market portfolios.
“This program uniquely provides the tools, capital, education and community support necessary to equip the next generation to take control of their financial futures,” Smith wrote in a statement announcing the program.
Read the rest of my story and pass it along to an HBCU student who would be perfect for this program.
Meet the Black Joy team
Danielle Buckingham (she/her/hers) - Black Joy reporter
Hey! I’m Danielle Buckingham, affectionately known as Dani Bee. I’m a Chicago-born, Mississippi-raised writer based in Oxford, Mississippi. A 2021 Lambda Literary fellow, my work has been published in Madame Noire, Midnight & Indigo Literary Magazine, Raising Mothers, and elsewhere. When I’m not writing or tending to my plants, you can find me talking Black spirituality, growing up in Mississippi and pop culture on the Hoodoo Plant Mamas podcast.
A recent Black Joy moment for me was my grandmother’s 75th birthday celebration. She is one of the most generous people I know, and spends much of her free time taking care of literally everyone. It was beautiful to see her be showered with love from family and friends. It’s the most I’ve seen her smile in a long time. That was the best part for me.
Minda Honey (She/her/hers) - Black Joy editor
I’m Minda Honey, a Louisville, Kentucky writer. My memoir-in-essays about dating and coming of age during the Obama era, The Heartbreak Years, is forthcoming from Little A summer 2023. Until then, read my essays in Andscape, Longreads, Catapult, The Washington Post, The Guardian, and elsewhere.
On a recent trip to Detroit, I found myself on the dance floor at Deluxx Fluxx with my sisters. There’s something freeing about the safety and sanctity in having a good time surrounded by folks who love you. That’s Black joy. Plus, the DJ was a Black woman – shout out to Sky Jetta!
MacKenzie River Foy (she/they) – Black Joy social media producer
MacKenzie Foy here! I’m an artist, curator and archivist living on Piscataway land in Baltimore, MD. I have a background in producing film, radio, print and digital media independently and for various organizations. You can check out my mini-documentary on Mutual Aid in the Black Church at Sojo.net, and find most of my writing in Village X Magazine. In addition to my role at Reckon building Black joy, I’m an editor at Android Press publishing punk sci-fi and fantasy novels.
A recent Black Joy moment for me was debuting my candied yams at my family thanksgiving dinner. This was the first year everyone brought a dish to take some of the work off my grandma’s plate. Even my dad cooked corn casserole! It was really sweet to see everyone proud of their dishes, and to give my grandma some time off her feet this year.
Daric Cottingham (all pronouns) – Black Joy social reporter
My name is Daric L. Cottingham. I am a proud Black queer nonbinary southerner currently based in Los Angeles. A mass communications graduate with a minor in art from Prairie View A&M University in Texas, I also received my master’s in Sports & Entertainment journalism from the University of Southern California. Previously, I worked as a multiplatform editor at the LA Times and in Podcast Editorial for Spotify. I often freelance for publications like Business Insider, Vox, Paper magazine, The Washington Post, Okayplayer, and Xtra Magazine. Sneakers and animation take up my time when I’m not focused on storytelling.
A recent Black Joy moment was getting a shoutout from Megan Thee Stallion during her Amazon Music Live performance. I love music, and capturing that special moment with one of my favorite artists and fellow HBCU alum means a lot to me.
Take a winter wonderland stroll with Black Joy this holiday season with a new playlist Daric curated for y’all.
Embrace your growth in life by spreading the Black joy in your life. See y’all next week and don’t forget to keep an eye on your inbox for the Monday newsletter bringing an affirmation and song to uplift your spirits for the week ahead!