Unapologetic Black joy

UNBC Stories
Person sitting in the hallway in the Bentley Centre at UNBC's Prince George campus.
Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Project Advisor Cynthia Williams shares why it's important to celebrate Black joy during Black History Month.

As UNBC honours Black History Month, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Project Advisor Cynthia Williams shares her reflections on celebrating Black joy. 

In the mosaic of Black existence, there's a brilliance and vibrant thread that radiates beyond the broader narrative of struggle and resilience, a brilliance embodied in the often-overlooked beauty of Black joy. As we honour Black History Month, let us remind you about Black joy. 

This brilliance coexists with a history of resilience, where Black individuals, for centuries, have been architects of survival mechanisms in the face of adversity. The recognition that they have had to work twice as hard for longer is not just an acknowledgement of fortitude but a reflection of a system exploiting Black labour relentlessly. Despite this struggle, there lies a powerful truth: Black people are not solely defined by difficult trials but by their ability to find joy amid adversity. Black joy is revolutionary, asserting the right to happiness and reclaiming humanity in a world that has often sought to deny it. 

As we celebrate Black History Month, we recognize both historical triumphs and the present reality, acknowledging the weight of trauma carried and the beauty contributed to the world. This celebration underscores brilliance as a deliberate act of resistance against systems built to suppress it. Additionally, challenging the notion that rest is a luxury, not a necessity, becomes essential. For the Black community, rest is a radical act against a capitalist structure thriving on perpetual labour, a rebellion against the narrative dictating worth tied to working to exhaustion. 

In this celebration, it's crucial for non-Black individuals to acknowledge and credit Black contributions. Black history isn't a sidebar; it's integral to the human narrative, shaping cultures, movements, and societies. Recognizing these contributions demands a commitment to dismantling the erasure of important stories as well as other persistent systems of oppression.    

So, in Black history month and every other month after, celebrate the defining joy, acknowledge the heavy labour, and participate in rightful rest. This collective celebration is more than affirming worth; it's a radical defiance against systems that seek to diminish it. Let the joy witnessed be a testament to community resilience, a reminder that it thrives against all odds. 

Resources for Black History Month

To Learn

To Watch

To Read 

  • Black Joy in White Spaces: Maintaining the Radical Power of Resistance by Dwayne Hamilton, Jr. – AJE Forum 
  • Canada Reads finalist, Téa Mutonji writes Shut Up You’re Pretty, emphasizing that there is hope for a future despite a heavy past