A few times a week, I’ve driven past a man sitting on the sidewalk. He sits in a multi-colored lawn chair with a beach umbrella attached to the back of the chair, there’s a small blue cooler on his left side. He’s usually topless, with cut off jean shorts and he has his bare feet resting on worn sandals. He often has on black shades with his head leaned back.
Some people may think: Why is he on the sidewalk like that? Why not the beach or park? These were my initial questions as I drove past the first few times I saw him. However, the more I saw him the more I realized he must be experiencing a certain level of joy. I always talk about finding joy within the chaos, so who am I to question how someone finds joy?
And dear reader, there’s a lot of chaos. Between mass shootings, the rising costs of EVERYTHING and the divisive political climate one must be intentional about finding and keeping joy during a time when everything is so unpredictable.
I live in a very diverse city.
There are a plethora of small black and brown owned business one may not even know exist without exploration. Our city, like many on the East Coast is experiencing urban revitalization. During the last few years my city has seen a number of businesses sprout up in the downtown area. We have new arenas, a bustling ferry that brings patrons to Long Island and a burst of economic revival that mirrors the city’s economic boom of the 19th century.
The difference in then and now? Many of these new businesses are black and brown owned and they are thriving! Not everyone is happy to see this. Some in political power never thought such businesses (with their cloth napkins, fusion cuisine, indoor and outdoor seating and modern décor) has left some officials flabbergasted. They too want economic revival, but many did not think the success would rest of the hard work of people of color. Initially, one would not see the presence of the police department at all. The restaurants and clubs were buzzing with those looking to block out the collective trauma of black lives being taken with very little repercussions. Black and brown folks were mentally and physically exhausted. We needed then and need now an outlet to just feel joy. Like the man on the sidewalk, we went out. We danced, ate fine foods, indulged in hookah, alcohol and true joy. There were no bar fights spilling out into the streets, no gun shots in the wee hours of the morning in the downtown area. Patrons happily paid and tipped their way into a pleasurable weekend all in the midst of protests, chants, and refuge in social justice events.
Those with power peered over their spectacles and wondered why THOSE PEOPLE haven’t fought and shot their way into the shutting down of such businesses. They’re thriving? People are going home safe? What in the malarkey is going on?!
“Start patrolling the downtown, hand out tickets, make the cost high. Our new and very white city dwellers can’t take the noise, get ’em out!”
This is the conversation I imagine in my mind as I listen to black business owners talk about the sudden change in police presence in the city.
Regardless of the agenda, we will continue to thrive, we have been from the beginning of time. This time is no different. Click here for a list of local businesses of color in my city.
Share your thoughts dear reader! Blessings.
2 thoughts on “The Politics of Black Joy”
It has definitely been a really rough out for us with all that is going on. Whether it’s a wave of financial woes, ranging from inflated gas and food prices, to our ongoing political struggles. Whatever the case may be, I remain determined to be responsible for my own JOY. That balance in joy, while engulfed in uncertainty or disappointment helps. It keeps me mentally calm and happy. My routine doesn’t involve a whole lot. However, it does include staying physically active at the gym, reading, hiking, biking and concerts, among many other things.
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Yes! Connecting to the great outdoors is so necessary! Thanks for sharing!