Shavonne Marshall-Wells

Black Pain is Our Unapologetic Black Joy

Shavonne Marshall-Wells
Black Pain is Our Unapologetic Black Joy

After attending the panel discussion during Afropunk Harlem Week, I was inspired to write. To be in the presence of such black excellence brought knowledge, enlightenment, and respect. But also it got me thinking about the concept of black joy and black pain. What does it mean to me? To you? To us as black people?

Black joy radiates with pride, empowerment, and love but it also has roots that derives from black pain. Black pain is the core existence of black joy. Through black pain, black people have endure struggle, oppression, opposition, and prejudice . Yet, we have dealt with these strenuous obstacles, it has never stop us from acquiring success, love, and triumph. In fact, it seems like it’s become a defined empirical challenge for us as black people to grow from that pain.  As the saying goes, “When life gives you lemons, you make lemonade!" Black folks didn’t just make lemonade, We made a feast! We made a legacy out of black pain! Black pain has paved and created a way for societal cultural impact. Just think about the beauty of art, music, movies, writing, and the provoking artists, singers, famous writers, voices, and activists that has come from us showing the world the struggle of being black in America. That pain has provided an opportunity to reflect and show that black people are not only talented but that we are emotional beings. We are human.  Mostly in the media, we are given the portrayal of being menacing, imitating, or angry. Through black pain, we have shown that we have a soul that is deeply in motion with our pure feelings/emotion.  Which leads us to finally making sure that our story is not only concourse in pain but also in the sentiment of unapologetic joy. 

Our story shines through our appreciation and acceptance of pain but also glows through our vibrant LOUD vibrations of joy. Black joy radiates loudly in so many different forms, it ambiguous and meaningful to people in various ways. Your black joy could be the biggest accomplishment or the smallest source of joy that gets you through your day.  

Black joy can be when a young teen that got accepted into all 8 ivy league schools and her future has already been panned out for her in the world. Or the youngest black boy at age 21 to become Michigan’s top state rep. Let’s not forget that black joy could be when your Mama or grandma makes your favorite dish of fried chicken with mac and cheese and some collard greens on the side(with black pepper on them!). Black Joy can be when you finally wake up in the morning and you take off your head wrap and your edges are layed(that's when I know it's going to be a good day).  Black Joy is the epitomize feeling of accomplishment and to become more than that hurt to succeed. It’s amazing how we’ve explored black pain and molded our black pain into something joyous. Shine through that Joy. Shout that joy. Every time you feel it, Be it. 

 

-Melyssa W