I’ll be honest with y’all. I didn’t know how to open this week’s Black Joy.
I’ve considered multiple angles. Like, should I start this off funny by saying “If this year had a headline, it would read ‘2021: See, what had happen was….’”
Or should I lead with some poignant language like, “Black joy is the essence of our resilience and the magic of our ancestors.”
I’m not sure what to say after we watched a mob storm the U.S. Capitol building on Wednesday as Congress was trying to affirm president-elect Joe Biden’s win. They scaled the walls, broke the windows of the house of democracy, ransacked offices and just about everything else that if they were a couple shades darker they wouldn’t be able to do. And law enforcement didn’t give them the same energy as what we saw over summer when citizens were protesting racial injustices. We know because Reckon keeps receipts and has the tapes.
My words are no sage. They may not cleanse your timelines, souls and hearts. But I’m going to give it a try, by reminding you that Black people still stepped into 2021 winning.
Black women successfully flipped the U.S. Senate blue and Rev. Raphael Warnock became Georgia’s first Black U.S. Senator. He spoke about his momma’s resiliency during his speech.
“Because this is America, the 82-year-old hands that used to pick somebody else’s cotton went to the polls and picked her youngest son to be a United States senator,” Warnock said.
Right next door, Alabama’s DeVonta Smith also slid into history as the first wide receiver to win the Heisman Trophy. He used his time in the spotlight to inspire kids that they can be giants no matter their size.
“..to all the young kids out there that’s not the biggest, not the strongest, just keep pushing because I’m not the biggest,” Smith said. “I’ve been doubted a lot just because of my size, and really it just comes down to you put your mind to it, you can do it. No job is too big.”
For Black Joy, no job is too big.
And that’s on Mary had a little lamb because we are where the happiness, laughter and peace reside.
Black Joy playlist
So over the past few weeks, I’ve asked a couple people to suggest songs by Black artists for my Black Joy playlist. It’s a collections of jams that I hope will inspire your joy as you continue reading this article and thriving through 2021.
The songs are both new and old. So prepare to baptize yourself in nostalgia as you listen to OutKast. I even included some local talent from Birmingham-area teen artist Jahnah Camille.
Black Twitter nonsense
Whenever there is chaos, bet Black Twitter will come to the rescue.
Black Twitter has no sense and no capability to be serious – even during an insurgence coinciding with a pandemic. Here are a few of my favorite social media moments. Ok, they aren’t all on Twitter but it’s still hilarious.
— Roy Wood Jr- Ex Jedi (@roywoodjr) January 7, 2021
— J. Mills (@peculiarpeoplss) January 7, 2021
Me in 15 years sitting in the back of my sons US History class making sure they telling them kids the truth. pic.twitter.com/uV7GM0GBOV
— daria morgendorffer (@_teeeemula) January 7, 2021
— political_sauce (@SaucePolitical) January 7, 2021
— 💖EnchantinglyNonchalant😒 (@I_am_theDoll) January 6, 2021
If racial trauma from your all-night news-fueled insomnia is blocking your Black joy, I got you covered. I gathered some tips from two Black mental health professionals. Lanada Williams, is an Alabama A&M University grad who has been healing Black minds through her practice Alliance Family Counseling Solutions, LLC in the Washington D.C.-area (And yes, her family is safe after Wednesday’s riot. “It was surreal,” she said.) Williams is also a board member with Alabama-based No More Martyrs, which focuses on mental health resources for Black women. Herbert Wilkerson is a licensed professional counselor at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and Black mental health advocate.
Both Williams and Wilkerson gave us some insight on how to cope when we are felling some type of way about everything and how to release trauma that sits in our bodies, something that Williams said is the beginning of our healing.
“We’re asking ourselves what happened to us when we are exploring our trauma and our body holds that trauma, but it comes up when we are suffering, like when we don’t trust ourselves or when we’re not willing to engage with people or things we find pleasurable,” Williams said. “Sometimes our body protects us, and we don’t have the language to explain what has happened to us. We all hold trauma, but we all have the key to unlocking it, too.”
Herbert on why it is important to do the things that are important to you: “Controlling what you can is our individual responsibility. It’s okay to acknowledge what is happening, how it’s impacting you and then do the things that you enjoy to help you cope in a healthy way. Exercise, meditation, nature, connecting with others, etc.”
Lanada about being intentional: “Be intentional about your life by making a list of your emotions and assigning an action or a goal for that emotion. – “I would encourage people to make a list and come up with an agenda for this time. It’s OK to connect with your sadness and anger, but also know that we have to get past this idea of we have to just sit with our feelings. We can come up with a positive action or a goal. Maybe you’re angry about what you are seeing on TV. So maybe the action is you get involved with your local politics.”
(Psst. By the way, we at Reckon made a guide on how to let your lawmaker know how you’re feeling right now. Express yourself.)
Herbert about protecting yo peace: “Some people will want to talk about what is going on nonstop. We know that this would have been different if non-whites would have tried this. Constantly talking about (what happened) can also be triggering to the fact that, as Black people, we deal societal trauma at all times. It’s okay to say, ‘I don’t have the space to hold for this conversation right now.’”
Lanada on seeing a therapist: “Sometimes we think we only see a counselor during a personal crisis, but right now what we have experienced on TV is a communal crisis. One thing that No More Martyrs has is resources for people to find a counselor just to process what is happening on TV. It is OK to feel that something is wrong even though it is not you seeing and experiencing these looters and seeing the riots.”
Herbert on logging off to protect yo peace: “Social media is filled with people we grew up with who have racist views and people who may share the same views as us, but post a lot of triggering information. It’s okay to unfollow people during this time frame to protect your social media space. It’s also okay to unfriend people if needed. Logging off completely works for some, but that’s not the only way to manage social media for you.”
Lanada on trying trauma informed yoga: “Stress in general impacts our ability to self-regulate, feel safe and feel grounded. Trauma replaces that sense of safety. This isn’t a type of yoga where you have to stretch. Anything that makes you uncomfortable is reminding you that that’s a limit for you and sometimes our trauma has told us that we can’t have these limits or boundaries. Trauma informed yoga gives us some space to start a new narrative where we are in charge of our triggers, we are in charge of our reactions and we are listening to our bodies.”
Your Black magic is infinite. Go out and spread some of it today and every day. See you next week!
How are you celebrating Black Joy? Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and share your happiness and laughter with us! Also, take a minute to check out and join the Black Magic Project’s Facebook page where we celebrate and discuss Black culture and community.