"Black joy is important because of preservation of self. Historically as Black people, the odds have been against us, and in order to preserve yourself you have to find ways to center your development, your growth, and your purpose. You can do that in many ways — it's not just throwing in a bath bomb, burning candles, or having a glass of wine (which I also love). I've gotten into the practice of waking up an hour before my daughter to meditate, look at my planner to see exactly what I'm going to do, stick to that plan, and know when to say 'no.' I'm a libra so I love balance! Structuring my day is really important as is knowing when to stop and reflect.
It took me really stopping in life and evaluating [not only] where I am but who I am, because as humans, we are constantly evolving. I knew I needed to ground myself. I was doing a lot and was a part of a lot of projects. That, to me, is preservation of Black joy. As creatives, as thought leaders, as innovators, we get pulled into so much because of our passion for what we do, and I don't think we stop enough to say, 'Is this the right path for me?' I believe in a higher power, but I also know that some people don't, but it's really just saying, 'How do I ground myself so I can move forward?' In some ways I've done that — like in meetings where I want to respond to certain things and I say to myself, 'Does this deserve my energy?' But then you battle with your authentic self. In general I have become really good at stopping and centering myself so I can better assess how to experience Black joy. You can experience Black joy in many different ways.
I just became a homeowner and that's brought me a lot of joy. I am a design-lover so that's brought me joy in building my space and knowing that I'm passing on generational wealth [to my daughter] and incorporating my culture and community into this house. What's brought me joy on some days [laughs] is learning from my daughter. She's a pre-teen so there's a lot of learning there for me; so the joy that we share being home has been interesting and informative for me not only as her mother but as someone who deals with college students and artists, as well. I can learn in so many ways from that.
Part of what I do as an Arts Administrator in higher education is support Black students, which has really increased my love for Black joy. Living during the current political and social experiences we're having right now, especially last summer, I not only was walking through that as a Black, Afro-Latina woman, but I was also supporting a community of young people who are experiencing it themselves. I think last summer was a period in time where I said, 'Wow, we are amazing people, we are resilient, we are strong, and that can't come from nowhere but our ancestors.' It can't. We were given the blood to get through that so that we can get to where we are right now. I am so much more grounded in Black joy and how strong we are as a people because of that lived experience not only through my lens but through these young people who are out there protesting, studying for their degree, and also trying to live their life. Black joy erupted in the last year for me."