The Anthology 

Even though…

By Wisdom Young

Black joy is tied up in line dances, fingers snappin’

“To the left, to the left and the right this time, back!

Cha, cha now y’all!”

Black joy is ruffled, pastel Easter dresses

hair ribbons and fresh presses

Grease, patent leather shoes

Fresh box braids by Fatou

Thick edges on fleek—“Boo! Don’t do me!”

Black joy is nappy locs and twists or

A Caesar that will make you sea sick

“And, My barber didn’t push back my lining?!”

Can’t tell me…

What about when the Naijas come thru?!!!

And silence a room

Until da frat get ta steppin’

Them dawgs get ta yellin’

They den turned owt the barbeque

Black joy is Juneteenth


Licking watermelon juice off our arm in the summa time

Basically eat the rind

It’s alkaline

Black joy is your sista-friend

Havin’ your back, your front

Your heels & earrings—need be!

“Hey, meet me up da street!”

Shaking my head—straight shenanigans

Bernie Mac head back, mouth open, stomach hurtin’ laughter

“Order some more chicken wings—it’s on me!”

A special kind of healing.

Black joy is Auntie leading a mob 30 deep into a High school graduation with 4 tickets

4 tickets?! Please!

“Represent—I see you Somali peeps!”

(Announcer) “Hold your applause and stay seated!”

(Announcer) “Mike Brown”

Stand up, clap and stomp my feet

Shhh... “Who gonna make me?!”

Sandra Bland

Black joy is the art of Jonein’

Of making something out of nothin’

Dappin & High fives

CD man, you got that, “‘Before I Let Go’ by Frankie Beverly?”

Alton Sterling

Black joy is long shadows holding hands on spring days

Listening to “No Ordinary Love” by Sade

Then, “You’re All I Need” by Meth and Mary J

Black joy is praline skin bruised from thick lips

Passionate thigh grips

We still have the audacity to luh like dis

Bodies hugging—struggling to speak

Searching for peace

Centuries of pain seeking release

Sean Bell

Black joy is Sunday morning silent tears

When our spirits hear

“Never Would Have Made It”

Somehow, we

still here!

Even though…

Some of us ain’t


What did Mama Valerie say?

Yet our Black joy is relentless

Honey kissed skin sun activated

We swim on land and walk on air

Every move we make we receive a hateful stare

Ahmaud Arbery

Where were we?

Black joy is…

Except when…

Even though…

Even though…

Except when…

Neck with cracker knee is pinned to the pavement

He, George, calls for his mama

And I hear my name

Breathe, baby breathe

Somebody do something!!!!

I can’t save him from my screen

Urine stains the concrete

They pretend he is still breathing

even though…

Black joy is..

Black joy is...

Um.. Black joy is..

What did it taste like?

What did it smell like?

Black joy is vibrant daughters…

Breathe, baby breathe

What about Bree?!!!

What about Bree?!!!

We can’t take no more of this!!!

Black joy is…

Black Joy is…

Ancestors beating the war drum

Let the fire come

Defund every one

Black joy is

Our refusal to die

Even riddled with bullets

Black joy is