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Black Joy

Stories of Resistance, Resilience, and Restoration

About The Book

With deeply personal and uplifting essays in the vein of Black Girls Rock, You Are Your Best Thing, and I Really Needed This Today, this is “a necessary testimony on the magic and beauty of our capacity to live and love fully and out loud” (Kerry Washington).

When Tracey M. Lewis-Giggetts wrote an essay on Black joy for The Washington Post, she had no idea just how deeply it would resonate. But the outpouring of positive responses affirmed her own lived experience: that Black joy is not just a weapon of resistance, it is a tool for resilience.

With this book, Tracey aims to gift her community with a collection of lyrical essays about the way joy has evolved, even in the midst of trauma, in her own life. Detailing these instances of joy in the context of Black culture allows us to recognize the power of Black joy as a resource to draw upon, and to challenge the one-note narratives of Black life as solely comprised of trauma and hardship.

“Lewis-Giggetts etches a stunning personal map that follows in her ancestors’ footsteps and highlights their ability to take control of situational heartbreak and tragedy and make something better out of it….A simultaneously gorgeous and heartbreaking read” (Kirkus Reviews, starred review).

Reading Group Guide

BLACK JOY by Tracey Michae’l Lewis-Giggetts

This reading group guide for BLACK JOY includes an introduction, discussion questions, and ideas for enhancing your book club. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.

Introduction

A timely collection of deeply personal, uplifting, and powerful essays that celebrate the redemptive strength of Black joy—in the vein of Black Girls Rock!, You Are Your Best Thing, and I Really Needed This Today.

BLACK JOY is a collection that will recharge you. It is the kind of book that is passed between friends and offers both challenge and comfort at the end of a long day. It is an answer for anyone who needs confirmation that they are not alone and a brave place to quiet their mind and heal their soul.

Topics & Questions for Discussion

1. What role does self-compassion and empathy play in our ability to experience joy? Do you view it as a necessity, particularly for Black people in this time of collective grief?

2. Lewis-Giggetts discusses the power of the breath as both resistance and restoration. Consider what it means to wield one’s breath in the face of grief and sorrow.

3. In what ways have the nurturing relationships between Black women been missing from the public conversations on Black love and Black joy? What role does relationships with other Black women play in your own life?

4. What are some specific moments of Black joy that you can recall from your childhood? What impact does those memories have on you today?

5. Are you able to identify what joy feels like in your body? If so, describe it. If not, why do you think the feeling of joy is so difficult to access?

6. Lewis-Giggetts writes that sometimes “choosing joy might mean leaving a place or person that no longer serves you.” How has the pursuit of joy led to separation or distancing yourself from people, places, and things that once meant so much to you?

7. Black folks are often master storytellers. In what ways have you or maybe even your own elders reinvented the stories of your/their lives as a way to survive or thrive?

8. In an effort to fight for equity and equality, we sometimes can sacrifice the equally important necessities of cultivating rest and joy and love in our lives? How important do you think it is to balance the fight for policy change and equity with our very human need for peace, rest, joy, and love?

9. Many Black people experience racial microaggressions—sometimes even daily—whether on the job, at school, or elsewhere. How have those microaggressions impeded our ability to experience the fullness of joy in our lives and/or work?

10. Lewis-Giggetts believes that identifying, accessing, and amplifying our joy is a pathway to healing whether we are ever accepted by white or mainstream culture or not. What does freedom look like on you? What does a free and liberated version of yourself look like?

Enhance Your Book Club

1. Encourage the group to keep a list of intentional ways one might allow more joy into their lives. Share with the group.

2. Have each person write a brief description of what joy feels like in their body. Then discuss their findings with the group to note similarities and difference.

3. Run a contest to see how many “moments of Black joy” a person can recognize and/or participate in within a week.

About The Author

Photograph by MaKayla Simone

Tracey Michae’l Lewis-Giggetts is the author of eighteen books, and the host of the podcast HeARTtalk with Tracey Michae’l. Her writing has appeared in a variety of publications, including The Washington PostEssenceOprah Daily, and more. Follow her on Twitter @TMLewis. 

Product Details

  • Publisher: Gallery Books (February 1, 2022)
  • Length: 288 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781982176556

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Raves and Reviews

“A loving homage to all members of the African diaspora who strive to preserve their personal joy at all costs… Poetic… In a nod to the significant strength and bravery of those gone before her, Lewis-Giggetts etches a stunning personal map that follows in her ancestors’ footsteps and highlights their ability to take control of situational heartbreak and tragedy and make something better out of it… Hoping that readers embark on a quest for their own joyous preservation, she leaves us educated about the process and ready to work on the self-healing we all require… A simultaneously gorgeous and heartbreaking read.”
Kirkus, starred review

Black Joy meditates, and really levitates, the Black sensory and the Black sensual to stratospheric heights. Tracey Michae'l Lewis-Giggetts wields curiosity like a scalpel, revealing shards of liberation and unexpected heterotopias while loving us ferociously.”
Kiese Laymon, author of Heavy and Long Division

Black Joy is a necessary testimony on the magic and beauty of our capacity to live and love fully and out loud.”
—Kerry Washington

Black Joy is a vulnerable declaration and embodied affirmation of Black love, Black liberation, and, of course, Blackity Black joy!”
—Rachel Ricketts, activist & author of Do Better: Spiritual Activism for Fighting and Healing from White Supremacy

“Black Joy is a glorious gift to Black folks. Intimate, engrossing, and deeply resonant, Lewis-Giggetts' essays form a loving blueprint for healing and nourishing our minds and our spirits. An essential read for all of us who are trying to get free.”
—Deesha Philyaw, author of The Secret Lives of Church Ladies, Finalist - National Book Awards 2020 for Fiction

“Evocative, honest and beautifully written, Black Joy is a balm to the soul.”
—Bernice L. McFadden, author of Sugar

“Ebullient essays showing how self-care and joy play out in the day-to-day lives of Black people… Lewis-Giggetts’ new tome adds a square to the quilt of Black radical imagination… Poetic and fun.”
USA Today

“Expanding on the author’s June 2020 article about the personal and political power of laughing with her daughter, these 36 essays counter the narrative that Black life consists only of struggle and trauma.”
—The New York Times Book Review

“In an era that feels less than loving, Lewis-Giggetts reminds us that we have always been more than fighting against the forces that seek to undermine us. We have always possessed the paths to our own healing and light.”
WJLA-TV’s Good Morning Washington

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