Laughter really is medicine we can pull from within.

It sweetens bitter moments. Like when I read in the Commercial Appeal that a Tennessee election worker turned away voters at the polls for wearing Black Lives Matter T-shirts and masks, I just laughed at their ignorance. And clapped when I heard they were fired.

North Carolina resident Audrey Ingram really had me hyperventilating on the floor when I spotted a video of her acting out the different ways people come to church. The “mother of the church” came through with the walker, the “late choir member” slips on a robe as soon as she walks in (the choir already in mid-praise, of course) and the tipsy one wobbles in at the end. Ingram told me during the interview that she just started making these funny videos about church life two weeks ago, and the video above already has over one million views.

Audrey Ingram, a 34-year-old North Carolina native, brings comedy to the pulpit with her online videos. (courtesy of Audrey Ingram)

I feel like I grew up with each of these people because I grew up in the church. So, I shared the video in the Black Magic Project Facebook group to ask members which church member represented them the most. The majority of them said they are definitely the late choir member! I leaned more towards the one who catches the Holy Spirit as soon as they walk through the door.

I also reached out to Ingram to ask her about how she got into comedy, her spiritual connection to the church and how her work has manifested Black joy for herself and others during Jumanji 2020.

A Pew Research study reported that people between the ages of 23 to 38 rarely attend church. Since you’re 34 years old, I am wondering what keeps you connected to the church? 

My grandmother raised me in the church. Some of my favorite moments in church with my grandmother was watching her praise the Lord and remaining faithful and pure unto him. She loves everyone and shows the love of God even when people did her wrong. She never retaliated or treated them any different. So, watching her love God and love people was a favorite of mine and still is.

What keeps me connected not only in the church, but outside of the church as well, is being connected to true like-minded believers who teach the true word of God and act on it. Most of the younger generation are not being taught the true word of God. Therefore, they can become confused. If the teachers are not doing it with a pure true heart and are only doing it for self gain, it causes the younger generation to fall back and not trust the church anymore.

Which comedians did you watch growing up? What do you want people to get out of your skits?

Growing up I watched a lot of Lavell Crawford and Bernie Mac. I want people to know that it’s OK to laugh and enjoy some good, clean comedy.

So Black Joy is all about Black people finding their liberation through joy! How has your comedy helped you during this time of both racial tensions and a global pandemic?

It’s taught me how to be able to laugh and push through with the events that has taken place in my life and to smile and continue to have joy regardless of what is happening in the world.

What is your reaction to getting over 1 million views on social media for this video!? Have you ever reached this many views before?

I was shocked! All I said was, “Woowwww.” And this was the first time ever  I’ve had this many views. This was my first comedy video and it went viral with over 1million views within the first week.

This should be funny! You depicted many church member in the video above. Which one are you?

I am the one who comes in praising and I dress like the diva. I don’t act like a diva, but I can definitely dress like one.

So, now that you have heard from Ingram, which church member type are you? Now, don’t be shamed or shy. I’ve been the person who just woke up quite a few times!

You can check out the rest of Ingram’s work on Facebook and Instagram.

Another Black woman winning

That woman is Catherine Flowers, and sis will be bringing in $625,000 worth of grant funds over five years after recently becoming a MacArthur Foundation Fellow. For almost two decades, Flowers has been an environmental justice advocate who brings disease-breeding wastewater issues to the national stage as the founder of the Center for Rural Enterprise and Environmental Justice.

But you know what? That isn’t the beginning of her activism. That all started while she was growing up around activists in rural “Bloody Lowndes” County – the birthplace of “Black power”. Stokely Carmichael was a common visitor to her home when she was younger as well as the other creators of the Lowndes County Freedom Organization.

Quick history lesson cause white-washed history books don’t give you the full story: LCFO, an independent political group, encouraged Black people to vote and run for office at a time when white mobs were big mad and threatening African Americans with violence for registering to vote. LCFO logo of a crouching black panther inspired the creation of the Black Panther Party – yes, THAT Black Panther Party.

So, it’s clear to see how Flowers’ activist spirit bloomed. It was there when she was a teen and she ousted a principal who allegedly was pimping out Black girls to white men in Montgomery (yes, you read that correctly.)  It’s there when she advocates for proper wastewater solutions from U.S. Congress to the United Nations.

Although her activism has caught people’s attention nationwide since she was a teen, Flowers said she will always call Lowndes County home because home always is calling her name.

“My ancestors are here. They are in the soil here,” Flowers said. “I feel like part of my strength comes from my ancestors and I want to honor them by continuing to make this place better.”

You can read more about Flowers’ activist upbringing, her upcoming book, racial issues faced within climate change work and why she believes the coronavirus pandemic is an environmental issue here.

But for the sake of this issue of Black Joy, I did ask her to give me three simple things people can do to alleviate climate change and environmental justice problems. Her answer?

“Vote. Vote. Vote,” she said. “When there are commissions, like the public service commission which makes policies about utilities, those people have to be elected in to office. We need to make sure we elect people who not only represent corporations, but also represent people.”

“If we don’t vote people in office who care about the environment and care about environmental justice and care about climate justice, it’s going to be a harder fight for a very long time,” she continued.

Catherine Coleman Flowers. Courtesy MacArthur Foundation.

Until next time, keep manifesting your own Black magic!

Your weekly roundup of Black Joy is produced by the Black Magic Project, a Facebook group where we celebrate and discuss Black culture and community. You can join the group and spread your own melanin magic by clicking here.