If the question is what is next, it is Black Joy, for Black People

It’s on fire, this system. And, ultimately, that is a good thing. That such an inferno continues to require the Blood of Black bodies as an accelerant is yet another of the indignities visited upon our community. It is another moving of the goalpost, and another means by which a system resets itself to mirror something resembling progress. It doesn’t mirror progress to promote it. This system stays crouched, to ensure that the progress is defended, that the flames only spread so far, and that they may be doused when the time comes.

But for now, fire. A good deal of it. Grim determination. Deep wells of it. Allies, and statements, and rallying, and space making and newly discovered reservoirs of support for our lives. It required more blood, and will call for more. It requires elevated anxiety, and disturbed sleep, and empathy, and peace locked away, and deferring wellness, it would seem. This entire set of endeavors demands more of us. It demands all of the spaces we make ready for ourselves and our persons, as stating areas for resistance, just so.

This fight was always going to be had. We will work our way up toward Supremacy, while we carry out these many boss battles.

There will be a fight after, and more resistance, and more resetting. Always, if this system remains in place.

And perhaps that is the brilliance of this system, and this place. Perhaps, that, is what makes this nation family what it is. The reality that we are all shaped to be racists of one kind or another, and supremacists if we become careless, and those of us who tear free of those two are so driven by the fight, and the limitless resources of the opponent, that we become exhausted, dejected and often broken. This system murmurs, and taunts, just so. Fire licks at limbs and extremities which are regrown in dark places of worship, and over meals, and in inactivity and mute resistance, by our neighbors. Tis’ a machine, you know. Beating heart and pistons, as one. How does one bring such a beast low?

I don’t want to offer too many questions. I don’t want to use them as any means of deflection, which is one of the handy measures used by the Beast to redirect and ground our efforts here. Questions, often unkind and barbed, are not used as true inquiry here. They are accusations. They usually mean that Black minds and bodies are once again meant to bow to the effort and solve problems they haven’t crafted and fed. Black bodies are forced to action, while all others are allowed gestures and relief.

To that end, I have, you have, seen many ask what next? Some are anxious about what they observe as senseless wanton destruction of property. Some wonder about how any of this leads to a viable course of action. I would suggest that such inquiries are little more than weaponized forms of respectability politics. All of this needed to happen. More does, still. More resistance and more pushing back, and more creating of new room and spaces and Black bodies and beliefs and personhood. There need be no way forward past that. Full stop.

When I personally consider what is next, I think little of the world at large, or what the needs of the many are, or what the system needs. Not my concern, not immediately, and nowhere at there past any substantive horizon. My concern is with my community, and the wellness of those who are members of that tribe. My concern, obsession, and focus is on Black Joy, for Black People, in the midst of all of this, essentially, and by necessity.

When I consider what is next, it is rest for Black people. It is laughing together. It is the pursuit of a life well lived, not deferred, but now, whilst this is all ablaze round us.

I offer the following by way of a Black Joy Initiative, meant for right now, and daily, and with urgent attention. I suggest all of the following. #BlackJoyInitiative, for immediate deployment:

  1. I ask that you do all of the things that affirm and bring you Joy. While I understand that you have been distracted, and anchored in these moments, I have to ask you to go run and play, and do all of the things that affirm you. You have earned this, and are entitled to it. Your unhappiness is not a requisite for your resistance. You may fit and live, together, same time, in the same human.
  2. Give the baton for legs of this fight over to our neighbors. You don’t have to solve this all. You cant fix this all. That is their family over there. That is their tribe. Should they be allies, allow them the opportunity to make good faith efforts toward fighting many of these battles. You, rest your beliefs, eyes, efforts and soul. Every day, for pieces at a time.
  3. Laugh to the core of your full Black soul. I don’t know the last time you sat or stood in a room filled with Black laughter, but when you live in it, it is like the heavens being called down. Find those things and people, those who you laugh with, full, with tears and passion, and share in the things that give you mirth full of life force.
  4. Demand your space, and then live in it. You do not have to continue to explain yourself. You do not have to explain your personhood. Especially not for souls too disturbed to receive and process. Start with yourself, and build spaces for all of the versions of you that breathe daily. Give them even more room. Hear what their head and hearts need.
  5. Forgive yourself. You were meant to live in all of those moments, and make all of those mistakes. They were all fertile soil, and you you should tear up roots from them. Mistakes are a part of the growing process, and you are a fuller person with them.
  6. Return to the fray, brave soul, only when you are ready.
  7. Do not feel obligated to expose yourself to the war report daily. You can be informed, and still take as many moments as you need to feed other manna to your mind and soul. You are allowed to create a full emotional plate with several food groups on it, even those that don’t feel as heavy. The other pursuits and people you invest in are no less real in these moments.
  8. Feel free to choose friends, spaces and contexts that are free of White gaze. You can craft spaces that feed you in ways you need, and you should free yourself of any guilt associated with this. Invites to cookouts without work has placed us where we are now.
  9. Shape for yourself, what your resistance looks like. We do not all need to be the tip of the spear. You can find the space where your skills, effort and will are best suited, and for how long, and engage. You should release yourself of any shame that comes with “not being activist enough.” Whatever you may give, is precisely what our family needs.
  10. Know this, our ancestors prepared us for this moment. They created a canvas and left spaces for us to paint and dance and write and shout into. Our descendants don’t need us to be perfect, they know that we are leaving their space free as well.
  11. Support Black businesses. That is not to suggest that money will fix this system, no. It is only to suggest that we will need the resources available to support those on front lines in their advocacy, and to better fortify, protect and acquire resources as needed. Self sufficiency as a main tool.
  12. Choose to love yourself, precisely as you are, no matter the poison offered by this broken system. Divinity flows through you.


Walk good out there. Reach out as you need me.



Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Napoleon Wells

Napoleon Wells

I am a Clinical Psychologist, husband and father, Professor, lover of all things Star Wars, Wakandan refugee, TEDx performer, and believer in human potential