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"Joy as Resistance"

Updated: Dec 30, 2021

Showing up as happy is a form of resistance. Don’t get me wrong, the events of the last few days, never mind that, the events of the last few years; starting with the first time I was called “nigger” have terrified me. The murder and looting of black bodies that look like mine have made me sad. The ways in which black people are dehumanized have made me angry. Being judged solely by the basis of the color of my skin has altered how I feel and think about myself. It has affected how I interact with the world around me. Living as a black woman who has to be hyper-vigilant of how she presents herself to the world has caused me to experience excessive nervousness, fear, apprehension and worry. Being asked if I belong has driven me to near madness. That is why my joy is revolutionary. That is why waking up at peace and reveling in the beauty of a new day is an act of resistance. It is not how I am expected to show up. In this moment I am reminded of the poem “I, Too” by Langston Hughes:

“…They send me to eat in the kitchen

When company comes,

But I laugh,

And eat well,

And grow strong…”

For me, I’ve taken this week to rest, to replenish and to renew my Spirit. Tomorrow I will wake up and take pride in my grooming. I will put on a beautiful dress, nourish my mind and body, and do the job I am paid to do with the understanding that it is the means to my end. The means to eat well, to grow strong. To prepare a table of my own so that no one will ever dare say to me, “eat in the kitchen.” I see my beauty; I proudly wear the face of my ancestors. I admire my strong physique; my strong legs have carried me far and my broad back has not been bowed in spite of the many burdens I’ve had to carry. I cherish my dark skin which has been kissed by the sun. I smile at the kinks in my hair that reach to the heavens and is my own personal crown. I laugh and dance in this moment to a rhythm in sync with the Universe. I take a deep breath. I inhale in gratitude and exhale every negative thought and feeling. I breathe for those who no longer can. This is my resistance.

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