August 25, 2020

By Mpoe Mogale

Over the past years, I have spent a lot of my time bringing to light the insidious nature of Canadian anti-Black racism. This was an underlying theme in everything I created—artistically, academically, and in advocacy. This vigilant focus of speaking to Blackness in relation to racism and whiteness contributed to the overrepresent narratives of Black life as lacking, struggling, and traumatic. There is an overemphasis of these themes in articles and stages that they have become synonymous with Blackness. It took several artists (shoutout to Brandon Wint and Lebogang Disele) challenging me to expand my retelling of Blackness to include narratives of brilliance, ingenuity, and joy.

While I am still dedicated to shining light on the discrimination and state-sanctioned deaths of Black people around the world, I have also come to understand that a richer retelling of our experiences is needed to disrupt dominant narratives of Blackness. As I create during the current state of the world, two ideas are top of mind:

  1. Joy does not exist in contradiction to our experiences of hardships; it persists and foregrounds our lives in the face of trauma. There are such unique forms of joy within Black communities that are worthy of exploration, and in showcasing them, we partake in a radical act.
  2. Joy is radical in that it forms through the very things violence seeks to sever: community, sharing, well-being, etc. To practice joy is to resist.

In this short three-part series on (Black) Joy, I will speak to the embodiment of joy and creating spaces in the arts that anchor joy. Until your next read, comment below with a meme (image or gif) that will fuel this Black heart of mine.

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Photograph by Liam Mackenzie


  1. Well said, thank you for sharing your thoughts and insights. When I think of joy and how it functions in and through me, I think of weeds (particularly dandelions), people will do almost everything in their power to kill, get rid of and stunt their growth. However, they always come back, even the hardest concrete they somehow find their way to full bloom. Joy cannot be suppressed or bottled in, many will try to kill it but it is constant, it liberates, it comforts, it motivates, it causes us to express through art, song and movement which all in all free us.

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