Searching for Joy

Corey Rivera | December 1, 2021

Your enemies want you miserable. They want you afraid, and lonely, and hopeless.

Luckily, rebellions aren’t about what they want us to be, they’re about what we want to create. Sometimes the most defiant acts are those of joy, happiness, and community.

At Healwell’s Just Care Conference in October the founder of ZAMI NOBLA, Mary Anne Adams presented her research paper “Interventions for healthy aging among mature Black lesbians.” Before Mary Anne spoke, she introduced the conference to ZAMI’s creative director, Angela Denise Davis who played us the ukulele and sang “Peace Like a River.” Mary Anne explained that they believe in music as a healing modality, “We believe that it heals well.” I think it’s safe to say I’ve never experienced such a thing at any other conference.

During the Q&A, the inimitable Cal Cates pointed out that white people are not the best at joy. While a sudden ukulele appearance was an inspiration within the safe space of Healwell, a sudden ukulele appearance on the street would probably inspire most of us to flee.

That’s me. I would skedaddle. I’d do it in a calm way, as though I’d always meant to take the most direct route out of the space, but I would absolutely high-tail it out of there. The million dollar question was, “Why?”

I didn’t know, so I proposed Joy be the community’s theme for December. While researching I realized how little time I’ve made for what brings me joy. Joy and happiness feel like afterthoughts. They are things to be stuffed between work and sleep, assuming there is any space left… and that’s it, isn’t it? If there is nothing but work and sleep, there will certainly be no rebellion.

This December, join us in the Healwell community as we discuss the ideas of joy, happiness, awe, and play. We’ll explore the powerful movement of Black Joy and beliefs about happiness in non-American cultures.