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Black joy is an act of revolution by Shelly Ann Panton

As we move past this first nationally recognized Juneteenth, the emotion that fills me most is joy. And before you rush to tell me why this shouldn’t make me happy and the many ways and reasons why I should be mad, please let me explain.

Black joy is an act of revolution.

Let me say that again. Black Joy is an act of revolution. We were not even supposed to survive. We were meant to work ourselves into early graves, replaced in the fields by the children they forced us to have and then took from us to be sold, or kept as chattel. But here we are. And even when the systems that were designed to maintain slavery continue today to oppress and murder - we are still here. Our souls are untouched, and we are capable of love. Which brings me to this:

Black love is an act of revolution.

Surely a people who have been brutalized, minimized, marginalized and just treated like excrement for the past 400 years could have forgotten how to love. But we have not. Love is a part of everything that we are and everything that we do. Despite all efforts to the contrary, we have even learned to love ourselves. I see young Black girls learning to love the curl of their hair and the curves of their bodies and I marvel at their strength. And when I see Black men treat each other with respect and black couples treat each other with sweetness, it makes my heart sing. We weren’t supposed to be able to do any of this y’all. But here we are with the people we love and the children we raised because we wanted them. We have made beautiful families and...

Black families are acts of revolution.

The success and continuance of chattel slavery in America depended on the non-existence of the Black family. Family units created in love, were routinely destroyed for profit and/or pure spite. Children belonged only to the evil people who owned their physical beings. They could be sold or gifted like puppies. Hold your children now for as long as they will let you. Give them the best version of yourself because raising them is an act of warfare against the inhumanity that created and maintained a system that benefited from children being separated from their parents for profit. Kiss your babies. Love all over your parents. Tell your most annoying sibling all the ways in which they make you proud. Reach out to cousins you haven’t heard from since the last cook out. Invite them over soon and play the music loud. Bid more books than you count and try to make them. Laugh and be joyous.

Black joy is an act of revolution.

Submitted by Shelly Ann Panton and her mom, Mrs. Yvonne McKitty


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