The first two weeks of 2021 have felt like a whole month to me.
But I managed to catch a theme despite the chaos this week, and that is: What is your Black joy legacy?
While we often talk about legacies when our folks are no longer with us, it’s important to note how our words and actions build our legacies in the present day. How did we turn our negatives into positives, our wounds into wins? How will the youngins of tomorrow benefit from our legacy – or suffer from it?
I heard a lot about legacy at the U.S. Capitol while representatives debated whether to evict the president from his position exactly a week after pro-Trump rioters stormed the Capitol. U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson, D-Georgia, mentioned the late and great Alabama-native-turned–Georgia-representative John Lewis during his speech.
And, y’all, it was the tone for me.
“I’m sure that every member of Congress would say that if they were (in) Congress when John Lewis walked across that Edmund Pettus Bridge and the Civil Rights Act was passed that they would have stood on the right side of history,” Johnson said. “Well, madame speaker, today we’re gonna see exactly what side of history you all are going to be on.”
Snap on ‘em, Hank.
I'm certain every member would say if they had been in Congress when @repjohnlewis walked across #EdmundPettusBridge & Civil Rights Act was passed that they stood on the right side of history. Today we're going to see what side of history you are going to be on. #impeachmentday pic.twitter.com/ed9ngzGrxK
— Rep. Hank Johnson (@RepHankJohnson) January 13, 2021
A mother’s love births a daughter’s business
Huntsville, Ala., Chef Adyre Mason, credited her mother’s legacy for her opening The Veggie. The Black woman–owned vegan comfort food cafe will open a new space in the Rocket City’s Lowe Mill after grossing $250,000 in three years.
Everybody is shouting about Huntsville expanding its space footprint with the new U.S. Space Command headquarters coming to town. Well, I’m more about shouting for Black women winning and how a mother’s love birthed her daughter’s business even after she passed away. Mason opened The Veggie after her mother died from stroke complications. The kitchen was their sanctuary of comfort and love.
“I think my mom would be very happy about where the business is,” Mason says. “She always told me if I started the business, she was going to be my prep cook. I think she’d be right there in the trenches with me.”
Stranded in India during a pandemic, a Black yoga teacher finds peace
Did the audacity of 2021 throw you off your Black Joy resolutions?
Well, here are eight lessons you can take from Adi Devta Kaur’s journey to India, where she learned the step up her yoga teaching game.
After discovering yoga, Kaur, who is also known as Phree, opened her own studio THEBLKYOGI in Birmingham to add more melanin magic to the yoga workforce so that Black people can more easily access the power within themselves.
But when she flew to the “Yoga Capital of the World” for training in February 2020, a global pandemic tried to snatch her dream. A one-month trip turned into months-long stay across the world from home due to lockdowns. But instead of being absorbed in the panic, sis kept it together and made paradise out of the pandemic. Thanks to her grandma’s prayers, she came home COVID-19-free in August. But she brought back with her a fire to expand her studio and a dream to host her first Melanin Mantra Retreat in fall 2021.
Kaur let it be known that 2020 couldn’t touch her. She wants you to know that 2021 can’t touch you either. You just have to trust yourself to be able to handle the unknown, which is one of the lessons highlighted in her story: “I like to tell people, ‘If you’re going to do it, do it scared,” she said.
The Black Joy of family
As Mason’s story shows above, legacies aren’t just about us, it’s also about how your love today influences our children tomorrow.
Alexan Stewart, a 27-year-old Florida resident born in Jamaica, strived to ooze Black joy when the tail end of her pregnancy collided with the Rona. The photo shown at the top of this article of her fiancé, Warren Weir, throwing their then-3-month-old daughter Xiara in the air in the middle of a sunflower field is proof that Alexan’s family succeeded in that goal.
Manifesting happiness at the beginning of the pandemic wasn’t easy at first. Alexan was sad when Jamaica closed its borders due to the ghettoness of the pandemic, meaning her family wouldn’t be able to watch her baby bump grow. She and her husband just moved into a smaller space when the pandemic pushed the brakes on the world in February 2020.
Despite her exhaustion, Alexan and Warren found joy in doing TikTok videos, YouTube challenges, exercising and COVID-friendly date nights. She reorganized her baby shower into a virtual event to keep some form of normalcy. Then Xiara, which means “gift of God,” came into the world on May 13 without any health complications. Alexan and Warren love to take photos. So instead of hiring a photographer, they decided to snap their own photos at Southern Hill Farm in Clermont, Fla.
Black joy in 2021 will involve continuing the date nights and the fun social media challenges because family love and togetherness is the source of their Black joy legacy.
“The pandemic just made our bond closer, stronger and (we are) very grateful that we were able to have a healthy and safe pregnancy,” Alexan said. “We’ll continue to support and motivate each other mentally, physically and emotionally during these times as well as finding the time to love on each other while watching our princess grow.”
So keep your Black joy legacy in mind as you power through 2021 with your own Black magic. See you next week!
How are you celebrating Black Joy? Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and share your happiness and laughter with us! Also, take a minute to check out and join the Black Magic Project’s Facebook page where we celebrate and discuss Black culture and community.