January 2021 | Spotlight on Anti-Racism
HONORING BLACK JOY
CNMA is working towards becoming an antiracist organization. In 2019 new bylaws were approved that recognize CNMA’s responsibility to actively address racism and the resulting health inequalities suffered by communities of color. Importantly, we must actively support efforts to increase racial diversity in our profession while engaging actively in self-education. “Spotlight on Antiracism” is a new section of the newsletter where you will find a monthly educational offering. We encourage our membership to check it out and share widely in your workplaces.
This month we step back and pause during the holiday season to honor black joy as an act of resistance and to acknowledge it as a necessity to sustainable antiracism work and as a feature of dismantling white supremacy.
So often in the work of antiracism, we can feel overwhelmed with grief, sorrow and helplessness as we highlight inequalities, speak out against violence, and dismantle white supremacy. So many lives lost, so much injustice and inequality can at times move us to action and at other times incapacitate us. If you identify as a white person doing this work you will always be protected from the majority of the pain, as you can pick and choose when to come into and out of this work. But if you are a person of color there is little respite. Scholars and activists grapple with the concept of sustainability in antiracism work and many find that joy and love is a requirement for dismantling white supremacy. Some call this hope, some call this resistance, but the premise is the same. For example, while anti-blackness is a core foundation in the United States, so too is the complete rejection of it, found in the honoring of black joy.
Imani Perry, a Professor of African American Studies at Princeton University says it more eloquently: “Joy is not found in the absence of pain and suffering. It exists through it. The scourges of racism, poverty, incarceration, medical discrimination, and so much more shape black life. We live with the vestiges of slavery and Jim Crow, and with the new creative tides of anti-blackness directed toward us and our children. We know the wail of a dying man calling for his mama, and it echoes into the distant past and cuts into our deepest wounds. The injustice is inescapable. So yes, I want the world to recognize our suffering. But I do not want pity from a single soul.” She goes on to say, “I must turn the pitying gaze back upon any who offer it to me, because they cannot understand the spiritual majesty of joy in suffering. But my rejection of their account also comes with an invitation. If you join us, you might feel not only our pain but also the beauty of being human.” One of her articles is here:
The creative, writer and educator, Kleaver Cruz is the creator of The Black Joy Project, a digital and real-world affirmation that Black joy is resistance. They state, “Black joy to me means, being able to say I love and see my people every time we are in one another’s presence.” Kleaver’s work speaks of the effort to “bombard the internet with the joy; the joy is a form of resistance.” You can see Kleaver’s work here: https://kleavercruz.com
And watch a short film about black joy here https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=1716790221954746
We wish you and your family peace and joy this season.