The Black Joy Experience Album

BYP100 organizers do it for the culture, so it’s only right we make an album.

The Black Joy Experience is a musical collection dedicated to freedom songs, liberation chants, and holistic energy that keeps joy at the center of our fight for freedom.

Let’s be clear. Without joy, we won’t win. Without joy, we won’t survive. Without joy, we will never heal. And without joy, we can’t love radically. But through the experience of Black joy, we’ll conjure up our freedom dreams and our ancestors will be proud.

Created by young Black organizers at BYP100, the Black Joy Experience is one of many soundtracks in the movement for Black lives that will be created in this time. From the acoustic “I Love Being Black” to the upbeat rhythms of “Healing,” we know that to bring every form of Black liberation into fruition, we’ve got to center joy as a political act of resistance and as a point of survival.

We’re merging political education with artistic expression by making music and curating creative spaces that promote awareness, nurture personal healing, and generate Black joy and love. Through the Black Joy Experience, we seek to tap into a long history of joy and holistic energy that has been woven in the Black radical tradition, particularly when our freedom is at stake.

2017.04 Launch Party_J Lykes
Jonathan Lykes and OnRaé LaTeal of the Black Joy Experience at the MelaNation issue 1 launch party (April 2017) (photo credit Deyane Moses Studio)

We know that in this movement, we’ll continue to fight against the oppressive 45 regime and all that it stands for and is symptomatic of. This means we will be relentless about fighting against anti-Blackness, systemic oppression, trans-misogynoir, sexism, homophobia, capitalism, imperialism and white supremacy.

But more importantly, we know that this movement, at its core, is not about what we’re fighting against, but actually what we are fighting for. The Black Joy Experience is the antithesis of the oppression we experience and it allows us to develop the faith to believe in this radically different world that we’re dreaming of.

We’re fighting for the perpetual joy of Black people. We’re organizing for a “joy” that conjures up a politics of survival, healing and love. It’s both joy as a feeling and an action. This is an experience that allows us to tap into the realm of the Black radical imagination, so that we can create an alternative world and develop our own systems of liberation in which we are uplifted and supported as we recover from historical trauma. We’re producing a “joy” that will bring us closer to our own freedom and our self-determined lives to keep us woke about what it means to proactively love Black people. This is a “joy” that was built into the fabric of our ancestral lineage, a “joy” that allowed those who came before us to navigate an anti-Black world.

2018.02 Release Party_BJE
The Black Joy Experience after performing at the MelaNation issue 3 release party at Fantom Comics (February 2018) (photo credit Deyane Moses Studio)

BYP100 has emphasized the need for “joy at the roots” in every initiative we have taken on since we first came together in 2013. Whether we’re shutting down the National Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) office, talking reparations on Capitol Hill, engaging in political education in our communities, or convening our members from around the country; in every moment, joy and holistic energy have been baked into our core values. There’s little choice for us— wherever Black people share sacred space, joy naturally comes to that place with us.

Before BYP100 was fully developed, our membership body wrote holistic energy into our values statement: “we bring our entire selves to the work. Our efforts are driven with love, using a culture-centered approach (art, music, dance, call and response, songs and chants), while nurturing individual leadership, and building power through our artistic and political collective. We apply this love, joy and holistic energy within BYP100’s work and in the solidarity work we engage in with other marginalized groups.” This is who BYP100 is, and who we will continue to be, as we commit ourselves to the fight for Black lives.
So we declare that we’ll sing, we’ll shout, we’ll dance, and we’ll make a beat to the sounds of a movement. Our ancestors would have it no other way.

We ready, we coming. Forever forward. Ashe.

 

— Jonathan Lykes
BYP100 Organizer
Artistic Director and Co-Producer
The Black Joy Experience

Wanna hear more from the Black Joy Experience? Follow them on Instagram at @blackjoyexperience, see them perform at DC Black Pride at the Grand Hyatt Hotel on May 25, and stay tuned for the release of the album on July 13 in Chicago.

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