Black Joy

Living in a small, white racist town has really made me contain my joy. Anytime, I leave my house–it’s usually with a screw face as I encounter beat up jeeps with Confederation flags and creepy white men staring at me in dark shades with fatigue-print caps on. Wherever I go, people stare. I’m not from ’round here. But guess what? I’m here and I’m about to reclaim my ability to express the natural emotion of happiness and joy.

I experience joy when I see (and especially if I get to meet) other Black people in my town, or wherever I happen to be. A  nod of acknowledgment or a “good morning” can set a sista on a brightened journey. No lie. I love when I feel my hair is doing all the talking for me when my lips are too fed up. Unapologetic, KINKY coily hair is beautiful ART.  I feel this so confidently that I feel joyous even in a mediocre hairdo. I experience joy when I maintain class, grace, humility, patience in any situation. I feel my best self emerging and growing. This brings me joy. It brings me joy to walk with a group of Black children, one of them usually being my own. It brings me joy to see my son being himself–wild, coily hair out proud and everything!

It brings me joy to exclusively date Black men and have nothing but loyalty, respect and openness with them. It brings me  joy to be treated like a queen by a Black man–privately and publicly. It brings me joy to view, touch and caress melanated skin. This is almost like therapy! It brings me joy to catch a joke in Patois from my grandma, or to piss the neighbours off when I’m burning my browning before I cook stew or curry (it’s not my fault I use…flavour). It also brings me joy to share a plate of curry with my neighbours, and show them that yes–Black people do care about recycling and putting out the right decorations at the right time of the year. *roll of eyes*

I’ve lost my ability to conceal my joy because I’m expected to be a caricature of suffering and hostility. I find myself grinning, beaming and letting the excitement enter my voice wherever I am. I’m able to let the light shine in my eyes when I’m truly appeased, laugh at myself at the ice rink or the store and stand with my head and my uniquely beautiful coily hair tall. If you want a disgruntled, angry Black female–that isn’t going to be me. I’ve got too much joy because every day I wake up feeling blessed! I’m not going to let someone decide there is no space for happy, carefree Black people. I’m coming for that space, and it’s going to be a magical space. 3

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Our Own Culture

Last night, I was Googling reviews for random baby products like co-sleepers, baby carriers and high chairs. The fact baby carriers like Ergo and Beco originate from African mothers carrying their children on their back in cloth fabric–I didn’t see even one Black family on any of my Google searches. I didn’t see one, cute little chocolate baby featured on any of the baby clothing websites I checked out locally in my city, nation-wide and then Internet-wide. After an exhaustive search, I did see a cute Black tot wearing an adorable onesie on Mini Mioche. Why weren’t Black children being featured in other ads like Minimoc and Wee Woolies–two brands I adore?

I realized when I noticed the designs–woodland creatures, fairies and mute geometric shapes on neutral colours–that this is their visual of childhood style. And it probably ties in with their own Irish, German, British, etc folklore. When you buy organic, wooden Waldorf toys for your child–you will get white fairies and white gnomes. I thought infancy and childhood should really be the same for every child, but these companies don’t. They are catering to white families. Good for them!

We need not be disheartened. Black culture is growing, growing, growing like a baby in utero! I made a list of Black-owned businesses selling everything I was looking for from organic wooden toys to moccasins and came up with a long, long list and similar prices–but with our own culture stamped right in it. Kente print, mudcloth, dashikis–you name it–and there they were. Bamboo toys from Africa–even African-print cloth diapers! It was difficult to find a Black-owned baby carrier company, but Boba did offer African-inspired prints (for a limited time) for their wraps. I’ve seen mothers customize their regular baby carriers with African print cloth so really, we just need to do what we’ve been doing. Being creative, innovative and sticking to our culture because there’s no reason to sidestep it for unicorns and moose when we have most beautiful, ancient  continent in the world as our origin!