Dominican Poet Kleaver Cruz Redefines Resistance With Black Joy Project
Here's how a personal 30-day challenge turned into a movement.
On any given day, social media can easily rob one's joy with a flood of traumatizing images and depressing news. Afro-Latinx poet Kleaver Cruz knows this pain too well, especially in light of the ongoing Black Lives Matter movement.
Piercing through the heaviness, the New York native embarked on a 30-day personal challenge to share images of joy, beginning with a photo of his smiling mother, and passed the baton to his followers to do the same. "Something told me that I had to post this image, make a call about black joy," Cruz told Mitú. "I posted that with a statement that said, 'Let us bombard the Internet with joy.'"
The result: The Black Joy Project.
Writing is the only thing that has truly allowed me to be in control of my own voice in ways that no can take from me. The molding of words into sentences, stanzas, paragraphs, pages, phrases and all the combinations possible are what allow me to tell my truth and muster the ability to imagine a world that is loving of it and ones like it. To have had the honor to cross paths with Nikki Giovanni, ironically, leaves me near speechless. Thank you for the roads you've paved. Thank you for using language powerfully. Thank you for choosing to spend time with my comrades and I the afternoon you posed for this portrait. Thank you for telling us that the work we are doing is important. Shout out to Dominique Sindayingza for this beautiful image. It has been 30 days of posting the #BlackJoyPortraitSeries and what a journey it has been. There's so much joy left to share with you all. I love you mi gente. My beautiful Black peoples. -Kleaver Cruz #TheBlackJoyProject #blackjoy #StayTuned
The activist firmly believes that joy in the face of oppression is, in fact, a form of resistance because it is rooted in embracing community, deprograming self-hatred, reclaiming humanity and owning one's spirit.
"Black joy is very much a healing process...It's a space of reprieve," he later continued. "That if any black person, anywhere, wherever they are in the world, if they're not feeling good that they know there's a space where they can see people that look like them smiling in real ways. And that they get to be apart of that community if they want to."