I had something different planned for this week’s newsletter but then life happened and human beings continued to prove that we cannot seem to keep our hands off guns. So here we are again. It turns out guns are completely unnecessary to human existence. And contrary to popular belief we could survive just fine without them.
I could present the scientific data on what we know about guns and why we just can't seem to keep from turning them on ourselves and each other. But there are experts who have spent their entire careers dedicated to gathering that data. And it is hard work. Done mostly in the dark. With very little funding and very little publicity or recognition. If you are looking for data right now, you can find some here.
What I can offer is a conversation about JOY. Not singular JOY or the kind we feel when we are happy and delighted, content and safe. But the big JOY. The JOY that we explore together on the podcast. The JOY poet ROSS GAY refers to as a “gathering of our sorrows.” The kind that is part of all the things we feel. Our sorrow, and solitude. Our quiet and rest. But most importantly, JOY as our protest. JOY as defiance.
My friend and JOY guest JILLIAN KNOX (you can listen to our emotion episode about JOY here) sent me a TikTok this week of Black men frolicking. In a word it was bliss. Black men in full JOY, running through fields, in backyards, spinning, turning, twirling, running with no destination. Just to feel in their bodies what it means to frolic. I headed over to TIkTok and spent about an hour watching as many Black men frolicking as I could. And it was JOY. Happiness, freedom, and silliness. All things that the constructs of white supremacy continually deny Black men. Making the act of frolicking a kind of big JOY. One that contains delight, and also resistance.
Defiant JOY does not require us to be absent of anger, action and grief. It is not a bandaid or a splitting off of an emotional space we refuse to visit. JOY in defiance and protest holds all these things and also reminds us to prioritize our pleasure. Because that happiness, that great abandon, that silliness is where our spirit lives. It is where we find faith and hope and foster the energy to speak up, speak out, and get real fucking active.
So if you find yourself denying JOY right now, like it is undeserved or impossible, I urge you to try to let go of the guilt. You are allowed to feel JOY. Every. Single. Day. Because big JOY, defiant JOY, is an expression of so much more than delight. It is an expression of the “gathering of our sorrows” and a place where we can reclaim what can be so easily taken away.