BLACK JOY by Tracey Michae’l Lewis-GiggettsThis 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
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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
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.