My Black Joy is a journey: Down memory lane, into myself, toward social justice, and radiating out. It is a celebration. It is an affirmation of being...being in black skin, being imaginative, innovative, brilliant, and beautiful. It is centralizing. It is recognizing. It is normalizing. It is unotherizing. It is song, dance, academic, and a little shit talking (not necessarily in that order.) My black joy is an exploration of language in lines and color. My Black Joy is my black joy.
From the time we are old enough to understand language, many black children become bilingual. Bicultural. And we also become aware that there is danger attached to language. Some of us aren't allowed to say "ain't." You better not even fix your mouth to say "finna." The memories of the creative ways in which our families silenced us are bittersweet. Our mothers, fathers, grands, aunties and uncles...our teachers and protectors know that to utter the language of comfort, familiarity, safety, and kinship in public can hold heavy consequences that can range from the perception of ignorance to death.
At the same time, the richness and brilliance of language associated with black people consistently appears in mainstream media. From .coms to selling blue jeans, our presence has literal and figurative value that we are often silenced out of benefiting from. Now, ain't that about a blip?
With this project, I am reclaiming blackness as valued and valuable. I am calling out the words and phrases associated with us intending to make space for all of us and heal the wounds that we endure when we are forced to dissociate ourselves from a piece of our identity in order to survive.
Each piece of My Black Joy is finished with cured resin and then I play some more and varnish.l then resin again. The resin provides a glass-like barrier that symbolizes a kind of ownership that cannot be easily undone. It exists as a resistance to cultural appropriation by literally preserving the work, with each piece serving as a record of origin, association and/or ownership.