Black Joy

Back outside? Black folks BEEN outside. | Black Joy – February 3 2023

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What’s your earliest memory of being outside? Not just outside, but really immersed in the world beyond your front door.

Mine is the small Mississippi town I grew up in, with my cousins, playing tag while leaving clouds of red dirt behind us, rolling down hills to see who’d make it to the bottom first, digging around in the grass for four-leaf clovers.

This was before social media ruled our reality.

In the summertime, children went outside and, as my auntie used to say, didn’t sit in the house looking up in grown folks’ faces all day. But in truth, the grown folks were outside just as much as us, on the front porch gossiping or tending to gardens.

Black folks be outside and have always been outside.

Yet, when it comes to the outdoors in popular culture, we are seldom represented. Activities like hiking, mountain climbing, or biking are often seen as “white people stuff.”

Black folks have a special, but complicated relationship to the natural world because we have had the outdoors wielded against us in every possible way. As white supremacy does, it corrupts everything – trees, lakes, oceans, ditches, sidewalks.

That didn’t stop our ancestors from learning the ways of the earth, its plant life, the smells carried by the wind that foretold bad weather. Our ancestral spiritual practices are literally rooted in the land – herbal medicine, gardening, farming. THAT is where we come from, a people that revere the Earth and know the magic it holds.

My challenge for you this weekend is to get outside. Even if it’s just on your porch or patio. If you can’t get outside due to weather, read some Black nature writing. Or reflect through journaling on your relationship to the natural world.

I know it’s easier said than done. And it’s completely valid if you don’t yet feel safe outside. I mean, there are numerous reasons not to. But this ain’t about the things put in place to exclude and isolate us, particularly from green spaces. This is about reclamation – in small personal ways and in larger communal ways.

A wise woman named Shug Avery once said: My first step from the old white man was trees. Then air. Then birds. Then other people. . .it come to me: that feeling of being part of everything, not separate at all. I knew that if I cut a tree, my arm would bleed.

Let that quote guide you through your exploration of the outdoors in all its glory!

Stay Black and joyful,


How Saloma Acres makes safe outdoor spaces for Black people

A South Carolina native, DéLana R.A. Dameron created Saloma Acres as a safe space for Black folks to “unwind, connect, play and be in communion and community with the natural world.”

During 2020, a lot of folks struggled with being so isolated from family and friends. People who had money and resources could whisk themselves away to a second home off the grid. But that was not the experience of the vast majority. This was something Dameron was thinking about when her vision of a Black Play Space became clearer.

Read more about Dameron and her mission to create safe outdoor spaces for Black people on our website.

Happy 6th birthday, Black Joy! 🎂

Founder, Starr Dunigan really put her blood, sweat, and tears into this community and she deserves all the praise. As a team, we are beyond thankful for how far Black Joy has come and the heights we’ll reach in the future. The best is yet to come!

Check out a preview of Starr’s reflection on what she’s learned over the past 6 years:

There was a time I would just punch my mattress or scream into the sky. My inner critic wanted me to jump into the sky too because no matter how many therapy sessions I booked I felt like a burden to loved ones. People’s lives would be lighter if I wasn’t here, I thought.

All that to say, I didn’t see myself as the best mascot for Black joy at the time. I could have handed Black Magic Project to someone else. Someone more spirituality qualified because I didn’t want to be a hypocrite. I didn’t have the verbiage nor the heart to explain what was happening. But I knew I wanted to thrive instead of just surviving. Telling stories that centered and celebrated Blackness – a mission that always felt so much bigger than me – kept me grounded. So I gave myself another go and the brand as well.

Read more about Black Joy turning six on our website.

Did you miss Black RE:SET?

In case you missed it, Black Joy just wrapped up our Black RE:SET series and it was everything! We talked about self-care and spiritual wellness. We gave a history lesson on tarot and oracle cards. And we shared tips on taking care of your mind and body from some amazing influencers and spiritualists.

Head over to our website to get the full Black RE:SET line up.

Well, that’s all folks. Keep spreading your Black Joy!

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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