-CONTENTSCOVER GIRL Whitney Madueke
PLACES OF BLACK JOY
Marching to Black Joy 18 The Black Joy Project 36 A Simple and Quiet Life 40
BLACK JOY AS RESISTANCE 44 Black Twitter on Black Joy As Resistance46 Why you all in my Grillz 48 My Presence is my Resistance 56
BLACK JOY AS SELF CARE 66 How to cultivate Black Joy 68 Interview : Axelle Jah Njike 70 It took me Some Time 76 Happier and Healthier 80
HIGHLIGHTS Posters Coloring Essays Poems Survey and many more surprises ! Enjoy !
BLACK JOY ZINE : AN ORIGINAL IDEA BY AYOKA AND 33 CARATS WEBZINE Editors-in-Chief : Alice Gbelia & Sanaa Carats Creative Director & Publisher: Sanaa Carats Cover Illustration: Dija Ouija @dijaouija Cover Layout & Posters: Nadina Ali @nadinadidthis
THANK YOU TO OUR CONTRIBUTORS : Adekunle Adeleke @kunle_paints Adreinne Waheed @waheedpix Andre Barnwell @sex.n.sandwiches Arya Haliba @arya_ha Aubrian Watson @iamaubrian Axelle Jah Njiké @axelle_jah_njike Cecil R. Walker @cecilrwalker Christin Bela @cflgroupmedia Danielle M @mavDanie David Mensah @david.mensah_ Delphine Alphonse @dailes.fines Elsie Cullen @elayocu Hina Hundt @laceriseelectrique Jammeson Hunter @creedkoolbragga Josephine Kibuka @jkibuka Just Naf @justnaf Kimberly Anthony @kimberlyskinny Kleaver Cruz @theblackjoyproject Natalyn Bradshaw @npbradshaw Nyanza D @nyanzad Odilon Ngonda @odilon.ngonda Parys Gardener @parygardenerart Phillip Simpson @artbyphillipsimpson Rahana Banana @rahanabanana Ronie Charles @roniecharles Saira Rootsycom @sairarootsycom Shadé Lapite @TheShadyFiles Shavonne Graham @blackjoyparade TEDA @onlyteda Tunde Omotoye @tundetash Youssou Chop @youssouchop Youth Grillz @youth_grillz_worldwide Contact us : firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com
‘‘Be reckless with joy!’’ Whitney Madueke on pursuing her dreams from Lagos to New York, her winning smile and sharing joy as an influencer. By Alice Gbelia
We discovered Whitney on Instagram and instantly fell in love with her smile - TheWhitneySmile © - and her relentless optimism. We knew we wanted her to grace the cover the very first issue of our zine. We spoke to Whitney about her knack for happiness, her life as an influencer and how she cultivates authenticity and joy on and offline. Could you please introduce yourself in your own words? I’m Whitney Madueke! Im from Nigeria and currently live between Lagos & New York. I moved to NYC two years ago after changing my career path from law to fashion design. I’m currently studying at Parsons while working as an influencer & model! I believe in dreaming recklessly and chasing it persistently! How did your influencer journey begin? It began a few years ago, out of pure love of being in front of the camera. Once I went natural, I started my YouTube channel and then expanded to Instagram! As an influencer I love creating content around brands and sharing that with my tribe. It gives me the opportunity to work creatively and to also share my voice and journey with others! What does a typical day in your life look like? A typical day is really a mix of working at home creating content, sharing and planning content. Emails - lots of it and also attending events or brand-related meetings.I could be at home all day working on my laptop or in front of the camera or i could have a day full of appointments and events to attend.
One of your most defining features is your bright, gorgeous smile! You use the hashtag TheWhitneySmile. Is it your trademark? Surprisingly it has become my trademark.I think amongst everything, it’s the one thing people recognize and admire - a smile that brings them joy! Through the years I’ve always wondered what sets me apart from others and how do I share that with the world authentically and I think when I began to love myself confidently and boldly for others to see, my smile grew bigger and better! Now it captivates other tremendously and if anything that’s the first thing people notice about me!Yes it is my trademark ! A symbol of boldly living as yourself and sharing and feeling joy !! I love your quote” Be reckless with joy!” You seem to be a very optimistic person. How important is it for you to maintain a positive outlook on life? I’ve always been someone that found joy in the littlest things and sometimes you’ll catch me smiling for no particular reason. My muscles are just set that way haha! I’ve carried that with me. And in sorrowful times, I like to remind myself of the days when I’ve felt joy. Life is really a rollercoaster and not everything is sunshine. I do try to remind myself of my past joy, while trying to feel my present feelings and also letting go of them. It’s a process and some days I’m better at positivity and some other days I need someone else to be the sunshine on my rainy day!
It looks like your little piglets bring you a lot of joy! They even have their own IG accounts. Tell us a bit more about them.
Social media is often criticized for being fake, with people presenting a highly curated version of their lives. As an influencer, what is your take on that?
They do! Omg! Moving to nyc has been a lonely ride on most days! Living in a new city and trying to navigate your way through things can be really overwhelming at times. As much as I may put on a smiley face, sometimes it’s not always that way. I needed some company so I got my little piglets Winnie & Minnie and I love how they’ve helped me love beyond myself. They helped me focus less on myself and more on them! I love how they are in their own world. They remind me to just take each day at a time and breathe. At this point, they are my daily therapy. Haha, love em!
It’s important to remember that you control social media, not the other way round. Like anything in life there’s the good, the bad and the ugly and you have the power to decide what it(s going to be for you. I’m always actively following and unfollowing people to protect my space and also to surround myself with the right energy. I pay no attention to fake people. I prefer realness all the way through so I’m always aware of who I let into my social media space. As for me, I always try to have fun in front of the camera. I share moments whether I’m down or hyped up. It’s important to me that my story is as true as possible so I can help other people who may be going through things in their lives.
You’re a big fan of gospel. What is your favourite gospel song, the one that gets you in a good mood every time? I love some Tasha Cobbs, Travis Greene, Marvin Sapp but my go to song is The Call by Isabel Davis. Is there an Instagram account that you follow that always brings a smile you your face? Mine! Ahahah! Whitney with her piglets Winnie and Minnie
What else brings you joy in your daily life? Drazing! Omg ! I never thought I would be able to draw but with school, I learnt how to in a few weeks and I’ve opened up to it. I love illustrating - it’s such a joyful thing for me!
Follow Whitney and her winning smile on Instagram: @whitneymadueke
“When creating content for myself, I actually like to use whatever is around me and spontaneously go in front of my tripod and camera and create whatever comes to my mind based on my mood. I like to keep things as relaxed as possible unless I have a specific idea in mind that has to be executed a certain way. Most times it’s as simple as placing a flower in front of you and getting a few fun shots! Your personality is what makes content engaging. You should also know what your audience loves about you and maximise on that. For me, it’s my smile and #TheWhitneySmile hashtag. It’s what everyone loves about me”.
LACES OF BLACK JOY
-From Adreinne Waheed to the Black Joy Parade and ca
O BLACK JOY
anivals all over the world, we will walk you to Black Joy!-
Oakland hosts an event dedicated to Black joy called the BLACK JOY PARADE. We interviewed Shavonne Graham after their second successful event. Is the city about to be capital of Black Joy ? Was there a specific event that made you decide to create the Black Joy Parade? In the video presenting the parade, Elisha Greenwell mentioned being inspired by the city of Oakland and how it’s evolved. In 2017 Elisha attended the San Francisco Pride Parade and while she was there she has an ah-ha moment “Why isn’t there a celebration like this for Black people?” She thought it was so beautiful how the gay community and its allies came together to celebrate and wanted to create something similar for the African-American community. As the parade is a yearly event how do you maintain this positive spirit throughout the year. And after the first parade did you notice if there was responsibility of your organisation to become a positive source for the community ? We keep the momentum going by using out social media, also by participating in local events. Elisha does a lot of speaking engagements. We also have a fundraiser and make sure we’re present in the community. I don’t think we feel a responsibility to be a positive force. We are just doing what we do and if we it resonates with people we appreciate that. What was the reaction of the sponsors and paraders when you presented them the project when you started? And on the other side what were the reactions of the passers-by on the day of the event? Everyone was receptive and most passerbys ended up being attendees because they wanted to stop and see what was going on. As the Black Joy Parade is currently a local event are you planning on to take it to other cities or would you like to make Oakland the capital of Black Joy? We would love to expand in the future but we want to perfect the local event before doing so. Let’s talk about the political side: did you meet any strong opposition in the Black community or in the city from people who didn’t want the parade to happen? I’m not aware of any direct opposition but several influencers in Oakland had their opinions on what part of the city it should be in and how we do our marketing. At the end of the day we stuck with downtown because we wanted this to be a statement in Oakland and didn’t want it to get buried in one of the neighborhoods. And finally what was the best moment of last year’s event? Best moments are subjective. I really loved it seeing all of the people enjoying the moment the first year we had 14,000 people attend and this year there were almost 20,000. It was beautiful to see all of those Black people and our allies enjoying Black culture with zero violent incidents just love.
By Sanaa Carats Photos: Aubrian Watson
In her book Black Joy and Resistance, the American photographer chose to capture moments of the contemporary Black Joy and Resistance. Her work reflects emotions, activism and aesthethics.
By Sanaa Carats
Photos courtesy of Adreinne Waheed
You released your book Black Joy and Resistance in December 2018.Why did you choose Black Joy and Resistance as a topic for your book? The images and the climate under which they were made are what informed the title. As I was editing images for this book, the energy that popped off the page was joyful. The book named itself. Can joy be political and or an act of resistance ? Absolutely. We are living in a time where it is controversial to say that Black lives matter. So, Black joy is resistance in a sense. Black joy is resisting racism, sexism and oppression. Black Joy is resisting calls to conform, whether that be to a European beauty standard and sensibility or a «hetero-normative» one. There is joy in being yourself. As an artist do you think you have a responsibility to engage in political discourse ? No, I do not think it is the artist’s responsibility to engage in political discourse. As an artist, I believe you should make whatever makes you feel good. Although I do understand that political and/or social discourse in your art will give it more visibility and make it «more important» because it contributes to the conversation.
ADREINNE WAHEED You have been documenting the African-American community in your past work. Have you noticed an evolutioninthenotionofBlackJoyandresistance from one decade to the next ? I have been collecting found images of AfricanAmericans from the Civil War to the present day. What’s different is that Black Joy and Resistance is louder now and takes on many more shapes and forms. There was a time not too long ago, when any small resistance could mean death for Black and Brown folks. Today we have more tools at our disposal. Our joy and resistance could take the form of a podcast or a gofundme for a victim of police brutality or filming BBQ Beckys or Black Twitter. Your book includes images taken at AFROPUNK Brooklyn and South Africa, West Indian Day Parade in Brooklyn, the Fees Must Fall protest in South Africa,theMillion ManMarchin Washington, DC and a carnival in Bahia. Did you shot all the pictures ? Yes, all of the images in this book were shot by me. These cities were chosen because these are the places and events that I happened to attend. Once I decided to do a book, I asked myself which of my images excited me the most. Although I have been shooting for decades, I had never shown my work to a large audience. I decided that more current images would be best. So, I took a look at all of my images shot over the past 5 years. This book is the
result. I am fortunate to have had an 18 year career as a magazine photo editor. Therefore, all of the other contributors to the book, including Jamel Shabazz are colleagues, mentors or friends. How long did it take you to complete the book ? The process went pretty quickly. The idea sprang in April 2018 and the book was in hand by December 2018. In 9 months, The Black Joy baby was born! You’veworkedworkedat Vibemagazinebetween 2006 and 2008. What can you tell us about hiphop as a form of Black Joy and Resistance? Yes,IworkedatVibe,ESSENCEandKINGmagazines over the course of 18 years. Hip-Hop has always been a form of Black Joy and Resistance, just as most all Black music has been. Sayitloud-I’mBlack and I’m proud! And finally, what brings you joy? What brings me joy is traveling, being the favorite auntie to my nieces and nephews, spending time with good friends, live music and of course photography. Do you have a song and an artworkforBlackJoy andResistance? My Black Joy and Resistance anthem is Black by Buddy. The art is every single page of my book.
‘‘What’s different is that Black Joy and Resistance is louder now and takes on many more shapes and forms. ’’
Adreinne Waheed’s book Black Joy and Resistance is out now and avaible on Amazon.
CARNIVAL VIBINâ€™ When it comes to celebrating and marching to Black Joy Carnival holds a special place. Weâ€™ve asked the opinions of photographers who capture the liveliest and happiest moments of this yearly instititutions. Jammerson Hunte for the Carribean celebrations and David Mensah for the Nottin Hill Festival. By Alice Gbelia and Sanaa Carats
Jammerson Hunte- Saint Lucia For how long have you been a photographer? As a professional photographer, could tell us a bit more about why did you decide to take pictures of Caribbean carnivals? My name is Jammerson Hunte from Saint Lucia I started my professional photography career in 2009 when I was studying Economics at the University of the Caribbean in Trinidad. Ever year carnivals are expected to place of genuine Black Joy and authentic gathering of for the community and also hold a place in the history of the country. Which carnival is the best to you and why? I love the community and our district carnivals because they are more intimate as opposed to the national carnival where there are a lot of tourists. The celebrations are more guarded. On a personal level what else brings you joy in your daily life? When was a recent time where you experienced pure joy? Seeing persons happy comfortable in their skin and being true to themselves and enjoying the experience that comes with that.Saint Lucia independence parade, there was a sense of unity and togetherness all creeds and all races.
DAVID MENSAH - LONDON I was so moved by the joy that reached out at me through this tapestry of faces that I just kept on taking more and more photos.
How long have you been doing photography? I’ve been ‘doing’ photography for the last eight years. My interest and my practice, of course, go back further than that but that is the period in which I’ve taken it more seriously and tried to make a living from it. When did you start photographing carnival and why did you decide to photograph carnivals?` Technically I started photographing carnival in 2005 when I was given my first camera phone by my older brother and I started documenting some of my friends, normally drunken, antics at the event. However I started making more serious efforts to photograph carnival in 2010, so that makes it eight and a half years. It happened almost by accident, in a sense. A good friend of mine was performing in a band and I promised I would get at least one photo of her. It was a one off, something she’d been wanting to do for years so it made sense to document it. However, there are thousands of people at Notting Hill Carnival every year so finding her was tricky and while I was looking I thought it made sense to take a few photos of other people performing. I was so moved by the joy that reached out at me through this tapestry of faces that I just kept on taking more and more photos. The streets of London had transformed into a dance floor and the onlookers were transfixed. The sun was shining and the colourful costumes were emblazoned with sequins that shook rapturously on dancing bodies. I loved every moment I framed. I knew I had to come back for more and so I did. I’ve come back for more every year since. How is photographing carnivals different from photographing other types of events? Photographing carnival is different to photographing other events because the thing that is being performed (the parade itself) and the people that are there to experience it are all part of the whole. For example, when I photograph live music I normally just take a few shots of the crowd but the chief emphasis is the performance. It’s a similar thing at festivals. At carnival the whole thing blends into one and it could even be said that the spectators are part of the spectacle.
What is challenging about photographing carnivals. What is rewarding? The most challenging thing about photographing carnival is being sat for two days in front of my laptop and working my way through a massive plethora of images and trying to remember what my intentions might have been when I was taking a photo. Every face represents a character in a stoat at the time appears to be chaos photographically speaking, but when one does it almost feels magical. Carnivals are places of genuine Black Joy and hold a unique place in Caribbean culture. Which carnival do you think best embodies this spirit? * Is there a Carnival you haven’t yet photographed but would love to? Yes carnivals are definitely places of black joy. I’ve published a few poems about carnival stating exactly that. Sadly my attempts to photograph other carnivals around the UK have all fallen flat. However I would absolutely love to shoot Trinidad carnival the place where it all started. On a personal level what else brings you joy in your daily life? The simplest things in life bring me joy; a cup of herbal tea and a book. I love to read and I love my own company. I also do a form of meditation which includes chanting everyday. Doing this, watching the incense smoke sifting through the air as I do and the candles blazing. This brings me the deepest peace and a joy that makes my whole body sing. When was a recent time where you experienced pure joy? The last time I experienced pure joy was when I took my eleven year old nephew to see Creed II at the cinema. He loved every moment of that movie. We both did. It can be difficult at times to know which stories to tell. This aspect of the edit is also the most rewarding I should add.
JOY IS BEST SERVED IN A GROUP
decided to add more joy to digital spaces, in
order to present an alternative, more layered narrative of Black life. His rallying call took him around the world, where he engaged in conversations with other Black folks about joy as self-expression, resistance and healing experience. We asked him about this journey and how The Black Joy Project has impacted his life. By Alice Gbelia-Photds courtesy of Kleaver Cruz, The Black Joy Project + Dominique Sindayiganza
Who is Kleaver Cruz? I am a second-generation Uptown New-Yorker and Dominican-American from a working class family. I am the product of a lot of love from many amazing Black women and femmes. I am Black and Queer and a myriad of other identities that overlap. It’s been more than three years since you launched The Black Joy Project in 2015 and travelled the world to understand what Black joy means to Black people from the diaspora. What have you learnt from this journey? In the early phase of The Black Joy Project, I invited other Black folks to join me in adding more Black joy to digital spaces and ultimately in the “real” world to illustrate the real tensions we live with having to hold various amounts of pain and joy. I have learned so much from traveling across the diaspora. I have had incredible conversations, some lasting hours and others minutes. Of the over one thousand people whose definitions of Black joy I have recorded, the most common response to the question: “What does Black joy mean to you?,” has been along the lines of, “to unapologetically be myself.” That is to say, we just want to be fully self expressed, wherever we exist, without persecution.
Have you noticed any singularities in how people express joy in the African diaspora? Or any similarities? By definition, I believe Black joy at its best is a communal experience that offers love, healing, pleasure and some form of resistance within those actions. In the pereferias (the poor and working class neighborhoods) of São Paulo, people may gather at a Samba school to create and perfect songs and dances about the take down of violent, state-backed military forces in their communities. In the Netherlands it may look like having public forums where people can speak out on the experiences they are having in that overwhelmingly white context and how it relates to other parts of Europe and the world. In Cuba, it could look like helping a neighbor out with repairs in their home or other forms of support with everyday life. In South Africa, it could look like setting up a space for young people to connect and sell products made by them in a store located in the middle of a gentrifying neighborhood. And all of these examples could be found outside of those countries, in other parts of the Diaspora as well. There are so many examples and so much overlap of the incredible communal force of Black joy.
‘‘By definition, I believe Black joy at its best is a communal experience that offers love, healing, pleasure and some form of resistance within those actions.’’
*Black Joy in the age of Trump. Black Joy as resistance. Tell us more about that. Trump’s election was not a watershed moment for most Black people in the US. There is a war against Black folks that has been occuring in this country since the first enslaved Africans were forced onto this land. This is to say that much of the Black joy practices that were in existence prior to this president, are still here. What this moment is calling for is a deeper commitment and an expansion of that work. By accepting that the world is structurally and in most places, socially, set up to kill Black people, then to actively choose to enjoy one’s life (whether for a moment or longer) is an act of resistance. Each time we get all our bills paid, smile, dance, sing our favorite song, spend time with a loved one, etc., we are doing so in a context that is incredibly anti-Black and violent. Black joy, for me, has always been an opportunity to practice one of the most radical tool we as Black people have access to: imagination. That is, we have the ability to create what we need that is not yet there. We have the ability to imagine a world that actually loves us back. Each act of Black joy is a moment of putting that imagination into practice and affirming that joy can be a our baseline, not pain. Or at the very least, that joy is integral to our existence and must be upheld as such. I also want to say that just because it may not be called Black joy by someone it doesn’t mean it isn’t valid. These words have not always been used to describe what we are discussing, the understanding has long preceded the language.
How has The Black Joy Project influenced your mental health? Today, how do you cultivate and share joy ? The project has created a type of positive karma that keeps going, especially on my really low days. On days when I question myself and the work that I am doing, the Universe sends me some type of reminder to encourage me to keep going. It has come in the form of messages from supporters, texts from friends, a “random” post I see somewhere and other serendipitous moments that I know have resulted from committing to this work. I also know that now when I experience anxiety and similar states of mind, that I have to remember to choose joy as much as possible. Not as a means to run away from whatever is at hand, but as a type of grounding that things will get worked out and for me it will be best if I try to find the joy in whatever is that is happening. I would say I cultivate joy a few ways: through conversations with people, through my somewhat regular morning Insta-story posts that offers little reminders for living your best life, through cooking for people I love and having them eat in my home and by having a very intentional set up in my home to evoke comfort and joy. I’m sure there are more ways, what I’m trying to convey is that joy is best served in a group where we can be together and hold each other in a way that is not possible or as strong individually.
‘‘ We have the ability to
imagine a world that actually loves us back. Each act of Black joy is a moment of putting that imagination into practice and affirming that joy can be a our baseline, not pain.’’
SIMPLE ANDQUIET LIFE
To illustrate the theme of Black joy, I chose to make a drawing that will appeal to children and big children alike. It’s not a portrait, nor a painting, but an imaginary drawing. To me, joy is living a simple and quiet life, have space, some sun, good food, nature…. And most of all, to be able to live my life like anyone else, without any fear of being judged. This seems simple… and yet, when you think about it : these basic things are a luxury for many of us. I feel like I’m cut off from the world, in this concrete jungle, this misery and this injustice.
J’ai de la joie, tôt le matin, quand je vois le soleil s’éveiller en même temps que moi, et tard le soir quand les lucarnes lumineuses de la ville, parsèment l’obscurité J’ai de la joie pendant que je cueille sur le rebord de la fenêtre les fraises que j’ai semées, que j’observe la menthe grandir J’ai de la joie,quand, un instant, la météo de Paris ressemble à celle de Cayenne, et que je reconnais l’odeur de la mer, J’écoute le grésillement de mes vieux vinyles... J’ai beaucoup de joie J’ai de la joie lorsque je m’assois après une journée de travail, comme toi. J’ai de la joie quand tu me parles comme ton égal.
I feel joy, in the early morning, when I see the sun rise as I wake up and late in the evening when lit windows parse the dark night I feel joy, when I pick strawberries that I’ve sown by my window sill, when I observe my mint plants grow I feel joy, when suddenly the weather in Paris reminds me of that of Cayenne, and when I recognize the smell of the sea, I listen to the crackle sound of my old vinyls… I feel a lot of joy I feel a lot of joy when I finally sit after a long day of work, like you. I feel a lot of joy when you speak to me as your equal.
Poem and artwork by Delphine Alphonse “A simple and quiet life” Mix media (acrylique, watercolor, felt, inlay) Delphine Alphonse is a painter inspired by the cultural blends of her French Caribbean roots. Her portraits celebrate black womanhood. Discover them on ayokadeco.com
BLACK JOY AND RESISTANCE
‘‘BLACK JOY IS RESISTING RACISM, SEXISM AND OPPRESSION.’’ Adreinne Waheed Collage Natalyn Bradshaw
BLACK TWITTER O RESIST
Black Joy is more than the mere act of laughing an to a world where Black pain is seen as currency (see as a fashion statement). Resistance to a biased narr sadness and grief. Curating and sharing Black joy is love, beauty, and co Curated by A
ON BLACK JOY AS TANCE
nd enjoying life. Black Joy is resistance. Resistance e the recent spate of luxury brands using black face rative that paints Black life as one only of trauma, s a way for us to offer another narrative, one where onnection abound. Alice Gbelia
WHY YOU ALL IN MY GRILLZ ?
In Paris, you will see this gold or silver grin on their face. A selection of the best grillz crafted by Youth Grillz Paris. Models : Odilon / @odilon.ngonda by cflgroupmedia Youssou / @youssouchop Kimberly / @kimberlyskinny Grillz by @youth_grillz_worldwide By Sanaa Carats
My P resence is my Resistance Words and Collage By Arya Haliba.
I am a French Black woman, from a modest background and I used to live in the suburbs. I have been a Parisian for about ten years, I take pleasure in passing through the heaviest Hausmannian doors, observing the gilding and mouldings for which France is famous. When I decided to discover the Palace of Versailles, I was mistaken for an English-speaking tourist. Is it because at the entrance, the ushers are not used to seeing people like me visiting these places? Beauty in all its forms gives me immense joy, I feed off the richness of the place and walk with my head held high. But now I find myself facing a group of teenagers uncomfortable in this vastness. It is as if at that very moment I was shown a part of my story that I forgot with time. My adolescence was far from these gildings, my head was full of dreams, I didn't know Paris, even though I was born in the same region I only knew other suburbs. A young girl stands out from the group and looks at a painting celebrating Napoleon's battles. In the enemy camp one of the men is Black with coarse, monstrous features with a cut off head in his hands. I could see the disgust in this rough diamond girl, her embarrassment when a classmate told her that this character looked like his father. She responded to him with humour pointing a man wearing a turban labeling him a terrorist because of his simple headdress. These seemingly innocuous jokes reminded me of the difficulties I had in identifying myself in the History courses at school. According to the French national education system, or at least from what I learned, slavery was the only period where Black people were referenced. My curiosity led me to research all art forms, the history of the Black Pharaohs, the history of the Malian Empire founded by Soundiata Keita and our more contemporary history told by Sheikh Anta Diop to name but a few. However I recognized myself in this little girl at her age: how to build oneself when the ugly and the negative seems represented by the black color? At the time of this encounter, I didn't know how to react and I blamed myself. So with the help of this collage portraying a black aristocrat I want to show this little girl and all the others that if the blacks have not been positively represented in the past I am part of this generation aware of its responsibility to represent its community. I create in the present with the goal of building a future where our diversity is sublimated and is part of the standards.
Arya Haliba is a Digital collage maker, documenting her vision through collages and hip-hop lyrics.
THE PARADOX JOY SOMETIMES GOES BY MANY NAMES. YOU MIGHT CALL IT JOY OR YOU MIGHT CALL IT HOPE, PURPOSE, HAPPINESS, MOTIVATION, SATISFACTION, ASSURANCE, BEAUTY, ENLIGHTENMENT, SECURITY, PASSION, OR SELF-CONTENTMENT. JOY, AND ALL ITS MANY FORMS, IS A POWERFUL THING. IT CAN FILL ANY EMPTINESS AND RESTORE THE MOST BROKEN. IT IS FREEDOM FROM ISOLATION AND PROTECTION FROM DESPERATION. UNFORTUNATELY, IT IS MUCH EASIER TO WANT IT THAN TO HAVE IT. BY CECIL R. WALKER ARTWORK: YEKO CREATIVE
However, once it is attained, it’s very well the secret to escaping hopelessness, depression, self-doubt, and all those many dark places we sometimes wander off to. The trick to accessing that secret lies in realizing that our lives, our understanding, and every present moment are constantly on a precipice overlooking a very wide paradox. The universe is comprised of numerous paradoxes. In fact, the universe itself is the ultimate paradox. It’s a vast plain of organized boundlessness all run by timely chaos. Our lives housed within it are unpredictable in nature yet summarized by a series of loops and cycles. In pondering the limitless domain of reality, we often find ourselves questioning our own significance and the meaning in the roles we play. We sometimes slump into depression and feel too powerless to object to self-defeating thoughts. We wonder where might meaning come from and how to find real satisfaction while failing to see that these things we’re seeking are just another set of features of the paradox we live in. Looking out at a sunset as the evening finishes painting somber colors in the sky draped behind the trees and the buildings in sight, we’re awe-struck and captivated. Yes, there have been countless sunsets before this, and, just as true, there are bound to be more to follow. What makes this particular instance so beautiful and remarkable is you. You, now, here in this moment, facing the fading glow of the sun, deemed this fraction of cosmically bleak time and space as noteworthy, and so it is. The universe didn’t hand that meaning to you; you created it. Likewise, you create all the beauty and significance you’ll find in your lifetime. You have the power to grow all these very joyful ingredients inside yourself. The sun in the sky was nothing more than a ball of gas spontaneously hurling through space until someone wrote a poem about it. The Earth’s greatest mountain tops weren’t crowned with majesty until someone captured their royal allure on a canvas. Your life is but a sequence of mundane actions and interactions, possibly even mistakes and tragedies, until you see them as otherwise. We are all fully aware of the immeasurably small influence we hold over the universe and all its unending vastness, but we are absolutely capable of taking our own slice of that vastness and creating a portrait of the beauty
we’ve longed to see. That’s the joy we’re all waiting to experience. That’s the shining feeling that warmly assures us that our problems aren’t anchoring us but are along for the ride. The paradox of joy is that while we want it and seek it so desperately, it cannot exist for us until we allow it to exist. One of the major dangers in trying to find joy is when we start to think that it’s somewhere “out there” or that it is predetermined and waiting for us. We might mistakenly tell ourselves that we are destined for a purpose but must go seek it out, instead of realizing that there is true meaning to behold right where you are now. The world is a big place, but significance in life isn’t to be uncovered; it’s to be acknowledged. Don’t expect the infinite, paradoxical universe to personally hand out meaning to any of us. It’s up to you to take the pieces laid out in front you and construct that meaning. Joy isn’t a gift bestowed either justly or randomly; it’s a state of being that anyone can enter. In addition to that, it is unconditional. True, lasting contentment does not rely on easy circumstances. It can survive confounding difficulties. There is joy to be had in seeing yourself as humble but capable. There is joy to be had in accepting your problems as lessons to be learned. There is an abundance of joy to be had in recognizing that there is hope yet. If you feel right now that you are in the midst of one of your most difficult battles, find joy in pondering how you’re still standing even with the weight of your troubles greater than ever before. Joy is being fully immersed in the understanding that who you are and where you are is just one step along the path to whatever you’re pursuing. Whether it’s a high point or a low point, it’s a point nonetheless in tracking your progression forward. We live inside a massive paradox. The future is never known yet always to be expected. The world never guaranteed organized logic, yet we tirelessly try to make sense of it. The infinity of the universe implies an inclusion of every possibility, yet every moment we experience is still a statistical anomaly. The same paradox that might tell us that we’re each nothing more than a minuscule cog in a machine too large to be perceived tells us that we all possess a keen power to transform our situations. When that power is engaged, we can see beauty, we can find purpose, and we can acknowledge our joy. Cecil R. Walker is a therapist based in Atlanta who helps young people from marginalized communities dealing with mental health issues. Find him at cecilrwalker.com
By Sanaa Carats
Just Naf creates accessories in limited editions and stationery based on traditional Comorian and African fabrics. The brand is based in Paris. How would you define Black joy? Black Joy for me is when I share moments of joy with my children, when I hear them laugh and the fact that Iâ€™m able to see them grow and evolve.. Sharing family time and creating memories is very important to me. On a personal level, what brings you the most joy on a daily basis? What brings me the most joy every day is to see my children blossom. Joy is being on this journey with them and telling me that they will become accomplished adults, God willing. Your last moment of pure joy? That was the day, I was featured in Marie-Claire magazine. And a work (book, painting or song) that best describes Black Joy. Happy by Pharrell Williams
¡ ¢ £ £
ONE WORLD, ONE SMILE Phillip Simpson, founder and owner of The Baltimore Gallery in Detroit is a painter and muralist, practicing for over 20 years. Working primarily with acrylic, spray paint and pencil, Simpson produces special ‘smile-branded’ paintings, murals and clothing. Simpson currently resides in Detroit with his wife and two daughters. He lives by motto One World, One Smile. Here Simpson shares with us how art has changed his life and how he intends to use hisarttohelpmakeothersaroundhimsmile. “The Smile by Phillip app was created was created as a way for me to remind my friends and family to smile. I recently found out that complete strangers have downloaded the app and I was filled with joy. I always thought if I could just make one person smile with my art, I’ve done my part. So helping many smile is a true blessing.
I truly live Black oy everyday. Every time I touch a blank canvas, a blank wall. Creating art can be stressful if you let it. My goal is to put my heart and joy in each painting, with hopes of the viewer feeling that joy. Pushing that positive energy and pushing that message is a joyful experience in itself. The real Black joy is every time I see a smile on my wife and kids faces. My wife and I have two girls, two Black girls, two strong creative Black girls and I want them to know that their dad makes art for the people and spreads joy by following his dreams.” By Sanaa Carats Artwork by Phillip Simpson
BLACK JOYAS SELFCARE
Collage by Natalyn Bradshaw
JOY AS SELF CARE
How to Cultivate Joy By Cecil R. Walker Art by Tunde Omotoye- Available on ayokadeco.com
You are not fear. You are not anger. You are not sadness. You are not anxiety. If you lift those things away from you, who is left? Get to know who you are underneath those distractions, magnify that person and you will find joy.
Be kind to yourself
The voice you’ll hear most often is likely your own, so let it be a kind one. Forgive your mistakes. Compliment yourself. Be the warm, affirming, and kind voice you’d be happy to always have close by.
Invest in yourself.
There’s only one you, so it’s worth it to try to make it the best you possible. Enhance your strengths. Spread that generosity you’re known for. Spend time building on what’s valuable about yourself.
Accept imperfection as the norm.
Mistakes are to be expected. Bad days are guaranteed to come. Rarely will things turn out perfectly, so don’t ask that perfection of yourself or of your circumstances.
Take breaks from worrying
It probably feels like you really need to think through all your concerning, potential problems and their impending consequences. It’s okay to give your mind some rest. Set your worries aside for at least a moment and be present right now.
Be patient with yourself.
Nearly everything worth having takes time, and nearly everything gained instantly can be lost just as quickly; this applies to happiness as well. Find satisfaction in the smallest of signs that things are better today than yesterday.
By Sanaa Carats Illustration by La Cerise Electrique
Axelle Jah Njiké is a writer, entrepreneur, feminist and activist fighting against female genital mutilation. Axelle tells us how why Black women should talk more about sex, intimacy and the joy it gives. What inspired you to create the podcast Me My Sexe and I®? I personally deplore the fact that our voices are only heard when the media needs a commentary on racism, discrimination, violence and lack of inclusion. We are rarely asked to discuss everyday topics, emotions, feelings or intimacy. I wanted to create a platform centred on our life stories. I wanted to offer other Black women a chance to hear and see themselves. I thought the world needed to hear about the diversity and singularity of our experiences. I’ve always been the chick who talked about sexuality and intimacy issues with her friends, or on social media. My interest in these topics made of lot of men and women in our French-African community uncomfortable. I find that people in the Englishspeaking world mure more open when it comes to discussing intimacy. The web series of South African actress and director Mmabatho Montsho, «Women on Sex» is a perfect example. I talked about it in my network when it came out but people didn’t seem interested, even though it was really great! So in my own way, I’m helping Black women in the French community express themselves and talk more freely about sex and intimacy. Maya Angelou my greatest source of inspiration as an individual, a woman, and an artist. I was also inspired by the work of Awa Thiam, author of «La parole aux négresses» about the intimate lives of French-speaking Black women. It’s not well-know but I consider it as one of the seminal books in French Afro-feminism. Tarana Burke, who created the hashtag MeToo was another person who inspired me. I knew from experience that the topic was a problem in our Afro communities. Very few Black French-speaking women had joined the conversation happening online. Yet, in private, there was a flood of confessions but very little was made public. I decided to do something about it. I decided to talk to Black women. What I had always seen was that conversations around sex and intimacy never seemed to include people who looked like me. I wanted to change that.
You’re taking this even further with your campaign “It’s not Bretzel” about… the clitoris. Tell us more! The campaign is meant to educate people about the anatomy of the clitoris. More than 25% of young girls in France don’t know that that they have a clitoris! And 83% of 15-year-old girls don’t know anything about its unique erogenous function. We want to end this sexual illiteracy, starting with a petition to the Ministry of Education and Youth to make sure that our little mount of pleasure is properly illustrated in biology and anatomy books. The campaign will be followed in April by the release of a documentary that is particularly close to my heart, Female Pleasure. Directed by Swiss director Barbara Miller. It follows five women - living in the US, India, Japan, England and Germany. The film shows their fight to stop sexual violence against women and how they encourage women to reclaim and embrace their sexualit. I’m lucky to be one of the film’s ambassadors in France. In 2015, you contributed to Volcaniques, a collection of essays about sex and pleasure written by 12 women. How did that come about? It was Léonora Miano who asked to me to contribute to Volcaniques. She knew that I was interested in issues around intimacy, sexuality and female pleasure. I was a bit reluctant at first but you don’t say no to Leonora Miano. I’m glad I said yes and took that risk. It allowed me to engage in very personal conversations with women and also men. I’m grateful for the trust they put in me. The book was very well received and four years after it was published, people are still discovering it and talking about it. Volcanique actually also gave me the idea for my podcast. How do you define Black Joy? I don’t label my joy that way. I had to build it from scratch, when I was a child and then a teenager because I was living in an environment that was not really conducive to joy. I don’t associate joy with my cultural affiliation. Especially since the trauma I went through at that time was inflicted by people who had the same skin colour as me. My joy is my own, it is not «Black”. I partly inherited it from my father, who always had a real “joie de vivre”, and I hope to have passed this on to own my daughter. On a personal level, what brings you the most joy on a daily basis? Writing things that make sense to me. And through my work, to have the opportunity to influence others in a positive way. When was the last time you felt real joy? After having a delightful discussion with my daughter Margaux about romantic relationships. I tried to make her understand that she has agency. I feel like I made a good job of it. A song that represents Black Joy? Golden by Jill Scott.
Mood by Sex N Sandwiches
IT TOOK ME SOME TIME It took me a long time to get here, but I finally made it happen. Yes, it took me quite some time to accept the idea that I was enuf and that I mattered the most. It took me a moment to allow myself to say no, to understand that it was ok to cancel plans with friends, ok not to go out to bars and restaurants, ok not to enjoy a sunny day when everybody else was. Oh it took me some time to voice it out loud, and acknowledge the fact that I enjoyed being alone. I used to find excuses, lies and all, because I felt pressured to justify my choice; and then it hit me. I just don’t have to. “No” is an answer; no is enuf of a reason. But don’t get me wrong, I love my folks, oh I love them friends and family of mine; but God I love me most. I learned to take care of myself, spiritually and physically, and be better emotionally. I soaked up the idea that joy could be found in simple things; it was that simple, but I didn’t know. I discovered that the smell of coconut oil on my skin was the best perfume I had on. I found nourishment in doing my hair, finger coiling, twisting, braiding, picking the afro; what a dance, oh what a dance. I fancy my own company; and find peace in solitude, in silence. I am no longer afraid of silences, in my head, or around me; because they were more than just that, silences; they were sounds of me figuring out who I was. Making time for myself became my motivation; because beyond time, there was “me”, the me I wanted to be, the me I knew I could be. So “me” and I started going out together, shopping, out in restaurants; me and I took dance classes, practiced yoga, sang louder than I used to do; me and I became friends, so I could enjoy myself. Joy started to make herself at home in my life, so I baptized her, and gave her several names. Joy was the smell and the sound of sweet plantains grilling in the fryer. Joy had the color of a dark bedroom where the sun was not allowed because you liked being in the dark. Joy enabled you to pray, to concentrate on feeding your mind and resting your soul, to explore the depth of your identity and dive into yourself. Joy had the voice of loud music in a small apartment. Joy was the caress of a hot and long shower that you could really appreciate. Joy named loneliness. Simple things, that you never noticed before, since you did not know that simplicity was greatness. You finally opened your eyes on them, opened your mind on yourself, and learn how to value time. So you started laughing loudly, unapologetically. You were glowing, your skin reflecting the goddess in you. You wore your kinky crown proudly, no longer afraid they would snatch it off your head, breaking its volume and damaging its length. You loved the reflection in the mirror, naked or dressed, you could from now on look at it, without wishing to change, transform or replace it. Your thighs were ok. Your breasts were ok. Your body was ok and your complexion was perfect. You were more than ok, you were perfectly ok. Because you finally opened your eyes on your beauty, on your self, you started loving who you were, you started being Black and very much proud. Take time to celebrate that. Take a moment to heal from the rest. Take the matter into your own two hands. And acknowledge that time spent with yourself is never times wasted, companionship is not a purpose and seeking it is worthless. You accept now to be alone, and do not necessarily link that feeling of freedom to the worry of later be unwanted or disliked. You have no cravings to urge any longer, no worries to nourish, no pain to care for. Get rid of the issues you internalized and seek yourself in being by yourself, focus on finding your passion and achieving your goals. The answers are in your spirit. Meditate. Self care. Isolate. Appreciate. It took me some time, to meet you. To be you. In all the glory of your joyful energy.
-Mademoiselle Danie Mav Art by TEDA -Find more of his work on ayokadeco.com
#BLACKG e Issa Ra
We celebrate Black Joy everyday on our website. www.ayokadeco.com
Harmony b y Rahana B a n a n a @ rahanaban an
By Saira Rootsycom Poster: Nadina Ali Illustration: Ronie Charles
What b My kids... I know it's kind of boring when people say that... But it's so true...@myboxafro Joy is everytime I get the chance to discover new things! Especially while travelling. I love the new, unforseen and also unexpected joy it brings me. It is a boost for evolving and discovering oneself! Art, especially music, brings me joy. Concerts are like travels to me as they're never the same experience! Long chats with my creative fellas bring me joy too! - @33caratswebzine Sisterhood - @deenadeeee What brings me joy is the current process of creating content around Black Joy with @ayokadeco ! It does bring me joy to discover new artists and understanding their creative process around this theme! Good, sweet food with family and close ones bring me joy too! - @sanaapinyourarea Real friends - @imane14 Working with amazing Black entrepreneurs who are launching & running businesses that are positively changing the world we live in - @ukjamiii An early sunrise, a smile on the face of someone you don't know but who is smiling back at you, the music of the rain, a well spent afternoon with friends or family around a barbecue, the laugh of my daughters, a fresh breeze during a hot summer day... - @jolitropisme I feel most joy when I feel on top of everything - I juggle a lot and like feeling pushed to the max, but it is SUCH a joyful feeling when I'm actually managing it all! I can smile and saythat I'm doing the best I can do - @line_and_honey Great music, travelling to warm places, amazing food, long conversations of total nuttiness that gives your belly a workout. I love dancing, ďŹ nding a great book and a snug hiding place to read it and loving hugs from my baby nephews. @shineoutloudshow
brings you joy ? What brings me joy? It’s hard to say one thing in particular. Of course moments with my family and dear friends. Being surrounded by beauty brings me joy also : art, ﬂowers, design, etc.- @arya_ha Beauty in all its forms (in people, fashion, design, art, nature) brings me immense joy @aliiice_g The smell of good food, ﬂoating clouds on sunny days, my kids' laughter, conversations with my oldest son, holding my husband's hand, a really good red bean or taro bubble tea,coﬀee dates, good music, memories that I wish I could relive, painting, looking at and taking pictures, among other things @npbradshaw Laughing, dancing, singing & celebrating with family, friends and like-minded people. Helping others - @Bossmatcher It sounds cliche but being surrounded by people I love (family or friends), it's such a bliss. - @sairarootsycom Creativity & DIY - @bawuanabora Being with the people I love, eat good food, read, write, music - @Lilimi_B
Thank you for all your answers !*
*Survey from Ayoka Instagram account : @ayokadeco
NADINA ALI Discover the artist behind the Black joy posters in our zine.
Nadina Ali is the French-Comorian designer behind Nadina Did This. She moved from her native Marseille to Manchester to study clothing design and after graduating, worked in the fashion industry for a few years. Nadina recently decided to channel her creativity and keen interest in graphic design into designing colourful graphics with a focus on lettering and typography. A lover of pop art, pop culture and bold colours, she incorporates those elements into her designs combining them with positive and optimistic messages. What brings you joy? Colour! Having lived in Manchester for many years, I have developed a constant craving for all things colourful. Where do you find joy? I find joy in creating. Bringing an idea to life is always a special moment for me. When was the last time you felt real joy? When I went to see Corita Kentâ€™s Power Up exhibition at the House of Illustration in London. I found the way she used bright colours and typography to create strong visuals tackling a variety of topics such as religious beliefs, activism and everyday life very powerful and inspiring.
People by TEDA
The same way that some people have a hard time understanding the concepts of #BlackLivesMatter or #BlackGirlMagic, some won’t understand #Bl...
Published on Jun 6, 2019
The same way that some people have a hard time understanding the concepts of #BlackLivesMatter or #BlackGirlMagic, some won’t understand #Bl...