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Black Joy Meets #BlackArtNOW

By 651 ARTS on December 13, 2017

A reflection by Kleaver Cruz.

Freedom must be imagined before it can be attained. We must believe in its possibility in order to manifest it. One of the most radical tools we have as Black people is our imagination, the ability to create what is not (yet) in the world. Black art is a bridge between what we witness in the world, how it is affecting us and what we see as (re)solutions. At its best, Black art is not only a record of our existence, it is a space of reckoning with it as well. It is an opportunity to make sense of where we have come, where we are and where we can be.

My work with The Black Joy Project serves both as a digital archive for our presence as it exists across the world as well as an imagining of Black transnational solidarity. It is an opportunity to insert the historic practice of Diasporic connection in service of liberation and the understanding that Blackness exists with great nuance. The work I have been able to do through this project has shown me the power of collaboration and as Issa Rae calls it, “networking across.”

One of the most successful iterations of my Black Joy Photo Booths has been through a partnership with my friend and talented photographer, Dominique Sindayiganza. What we have been able to produce together is an incredible experience of Black joy for everyone who has participated in those photo shoots. Dominique’s passion for photography and deep belief in the cause allows for beautiful images to be captured while I am able to connect with, welcome and affirm each participant in the understanding of Black joy as an act of resistance and how we can further it along in community.

My collaboration with Dominique is a great example of how Black art leads to effective ingenuity. Together, Dominique and I have been able to set up a process that allows for both technical tasks to be completed (photos, intake forms, etc.) and community to be built, which is ultimately what I believe the purpose of Black art is. It is a tool that is as much for expression as it is as for social/political change. That a Black person can be attracted to an image of another Black person smiling and then be engaged in a conversation around understandings and practices pertaining to Black joy as a form of resistance is not to be taken lightly. Black art now creates the opportunities for artistic expression to be coupled with social change. It reminds us that we are not alone in our experiences and that there are deep connections to be made as we exist across the world.

About Kleaver Cruz

Kleaver Cruz

Kleaver Cruz is a Bronx-based writer and creator of The Black Joy Project, a digital and real world movement to center Black joy as a form of resistance.

Photo Credit: Dominique Sindayiganza

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