Historical & Current Events dictionary

Black joy

or Black Joy or #BlackJoy [ blak joi ]

What does Black joy mean?

The term Black joy is used by Black people to highlight acts, experiences, and expressions of joy in their lives and the lives of other Black people.

It is perhaps most commonly seen as the hashtag #BlackJoy, which is used by Black people when sharing positive, joyful moments and aspects of life.

The term is also often used to refer to such things collectively, and is sometimes used as the name of a movement that encourages Black joy.

Use of the term Black joy is often intended as a way of making space for joy and positive experiences apart from and in opposition to the trauma, tragedy, and struggles perpetuated by the anti-Black racism and oppression of white supremacy—and the pervasive depictions of Black trauma and tragedy in media and discourse.

Expressions and acts of Black joy are often encouraged as a way for Black people to fully be themselves and form a sense of community as a response to systems that devalue them and stifle their self-expression.

In this way, engaging in and sharing experiences and expressions of Black joy are seen not as ways of ignoring oppression but as acts of resistance against it.

In this context, any act or expression of Black joy is seen as being a form of rebellion that combats stereotypes and negative portrayals of Black life and contradicts the notion that the Black experience is primarily characterized by oppression and pain.

Still, the term Black joy is not always used with the intent of expressing or engaging in a form of protest. For many, it is simply a label for positive self expression or a celebration of happiness.

Black joy is often used in the same contexts and in similar ways as other positivity-focused terms like Black excellence and Black Girl Magic.

Related words

Black Girl Magic, Black History Month, Black excellence

Where does Black joy come from?

close up of man smiling, green filter

The use of the term Black joy in the sense defined here is credited to writer and Black Joy Project founder Kleaver Cruz, who began using the phrase in 2015. Cruz has described the Black Joy Project as “a digital and real-world effort to center Black joy as a form of resistance.”

Cruz’s use of the phrase and promotion of the concept helped to popularize the term, especially as a hashtag on social media.

Examples of Black joy

we get to celebrate. we get to hold space for our trauma while also making room for the good in our lives. the art of revolution means we all get to bask in the freedom of our existence, regardless of how it shows up—that is #BlackJoy
@JoelakaMaG, June 19, 2020
That is the essence of Black joy. It dares to exist exuberantly in a country that has so often wished it dead. It can be momentary, a temporary haven from all that lurks outside.
Dasia Moore, The Boston Globe, June 10, 2021

Who uses Black joy?

The term Black joy is used by Black people to share moments and expressions of joy, especially with the hashtag #BlackJoy. It’s often discussed in the context of resistance against anti-Black racism.



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This is not meant to be a formal definition of Black joy like most terms we define on, but is rather an informal word summary that hopefully touches upon the key aspects of the meaning and usage of Black joy that will help our users expand their word mastery.