In 2016, at the Montessori for Social Justice Conference we delivered a keynote that focused on joy as a form of resistance. This was two years after the death of Philando Castile. That death rocked us. The conference was in the Minneapolis area. The Mississippi River runs through that city. The same river that led so many to freedom… similar waters that brought our ancestors to shore in Dominican Republic. With continued police brutality and the many systemic issues that impact the livelihood of people of color we deemed it necessary at the time to deliver a message centering joy. We wanted to speak to hearts and to heal. Our own hearts needed it.
While it’s been challenging to stand in joy due to hate, violence, murders, racism, separation, deaths, and other horrible current events, we feel the same need we felt in 2016: we need to resist through joy. We feel it deeply. We feel it urgently. None of these people, none of these systems, none of these events can steal our joy.
We’ve had people stolen
We’ve had land stolen
We’ve had education stolen
We’ve had opportunities stolen
But this joy that we have lives deep within our beings. It rests on our tongues, like the truths we tell. It is sensed at our dinner tables when we break bread with one another. It awaits us over each hurdle we overcome. This joy is vibrant and peaceful. It is calming and loud. It is all of the things that WE love about US.
We have a faith that fuels our fighting spirit. Our ancestors’ blood, sweat, and sacrifices are in our bodies. They glow within us. We are a fire burning. Our children are fires, too; lighting the future. It’s bright. Can you see it?
The fullness of the Black experience? Beautiful Black and brown people fully present with one another? Financial freedom? Food, fellowship, laughs, and love?
Can you feel it? Neighborhood interconnectedness? Community unity across differences?