2020 was a stressful, anxiety-inducing year for many, including me. The onset of the global pandemic and the trauma of witnessing the ongoing violence against Black bodies stopped me in my tracks. My anxiety overwhelmed me and made it difficult to show up in my everyday life. A simple drive to the grocery store sparked panic attacks, and most days, I couldn't find a glimmer of light. However, a simple hashtag — #BlackJoy — changed that.
Friends and family members shared videos of Black people skating, dancing, laughing — just existing— with the hashtag below their posts. Seeing Black folks find the light in such a dark time made me think about the family reunions where my aunties and uncles glided across the floor doing the electric slide. How they laughed so loud, their voices carried throughout the house during the holiday season. But, even in their moments of happiness, the energy would shift when they talked about growing up in the Jim Crow South.
As author James Baldwin famously said in 1961, "To be a Negro in this country and to be relatively conscious is to be in a rage almost all the time." His poignant words still resonate and describe what it means to be Black nearly 60 years later. However, that truth doesn't mean that joy isn't allowed. In fact, Black joy is a form of resistance. So what does Black joy look like? Well, Curology, a skin-care company that strives to make effective skin care inclusive and accessible, is teaming up with Black creators to share how they cultivate joy in their lives and communities, even in the face of oppression. We want to jumpstart the conversation by sharing three small ways you can center joy in your life.
Find a Safe Space to Ground Yourself
Samora Suber, a Los Angeles-based yoga instructor and certified life coach, finds happiness through movement. Yoga is one of her sources. "I've always found my joy through movement, but I never felt truly connected to yoga until I experienced my first Black yoga teacher [in New York]," she says. This welcoming experience is what changed her perspective and drew Suber to teaching.
"When I moved to Los Angeles, I couldn't find any [yoga] teachers of color. I also noticed that I would be the only Black person in these spaces," Suber says. She would ask friends to join her in her regular yoga and meditation workshops. However, she was met with some resistance. "[My friends] would feel intimidated, saying things like, 'That's for white people,' or 'I don't know if I feel comfortable there.'" Suber is now on a mission to create a safe space for Black people to experience yoga and meditation's "fulfilling wonders." "I know that the best way for Black people to join a yoga class is for them to see a Black yoga teacher," she says. Like Suber, collectives such as Black Girls Breathing, Reparations Club, and Black Girl In Om curate content, books, and workshops that center Black wellness, making it easier to welcome restorative practices into our lives.
Try Something New
Trying a new hobby doesn't just spark joy but can also positively impact your health and creativity. DRK Beauty clinician and therapist Iyea Brandy, EDS, LAPC agrees and says it's all about adding small acts of self-care to your life. "Start a new hobby or passion project [or] declutter your space and donate items to create room for more joy," she says. A 2009 study found adding leisurely activities to your life is associated with lower blood pressure, depression, and stress. Finding a new hobby might take trial and error, but we suggest using social media as your guide. Online communities like #blackgirlsskate, #blackgirlswhopaint, and #blackgirlswhogarden are filled with photos and videos of Black folks leaning into new skills and projects that make them happy, so don’t be afraid to follow their lead.
Rethink Interacts on Social Media
When videos of Black trauma are shared freely across social media platforms, it can be difficult to avoid interacting with them. Absorbing violence in online forums can negatively impact our mental health and can even trigger vicarious trauma. However, there is a simple remedy — curating your social media feed with accounts and creators that inspire, uplift, and make you laugh out loud. Communities like Black Joy Parade and Because of Them We Can are the plug to joyous, hilarious, and uplifting content for your feed. Additionally, Curology has created an online platform for Black History month, In Support Of Black Joy, which will showcase a collection of stories, conversations, and events, amplifying over 25 Black creators to share how joy preserves community, sparks resistance, and cultivates happiness—all in the face of oppression.
This post is sponsored by Curology.