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  • I'm Irenosen Okojie, I'm an author. In my humble opinion,

  • black joy should be embedded within the fabric of our culture

  • and shouldn't just be temporary or fleeting.

  • So black joy is expanding the notion of what black artistry is

  • and it's contributing to the culture,

  • it's shaping what conversations we have.

  • It's being completely free and unencumbered in terms of ideas

  • and having absolute agency.

  • And I think being your most authentic self,

  • because sometimes it can be difficult

  • operating within the Western structure

  • in terms of how we express ourselves as artists

  • and how we celebrate our culture.

  • If I were to give concrete examples of what black joy means to me,

  • I would say it's reading a June Jordan poem,

  • it's watching a Barry Jenkins film,

  • it's listening to a Fela Kuti record on a hot day,

  • it's looking at an image of a Basquiat exhibition.

  • All of these things represent black artistry and black innovation

  • and the complete freedom and joy that I think is important as an artist.

  • There's so much happening that signifies black joy at the moment.

  • We're seeing our stories filter into the mainstream

  • and finally this idea of whose story is valuable

  • is coming to the forefront.

  • And black stories are taking precedence,

  • not only coming to the forefront but shaping cultural narratives

  • and having a really huge impact.

  • So, if we look at for example Black Panther, I would say that

  • that's a huge cultural moment in terms of black joy

  • and just the ripple effect it had globally.

  • It shattered every preconceived notion or myth

  • about whether black stories are valuable,

  • whether they translate into the mainstream,

  • whether they're too niche or audiences will go and see them.

  • Here we have a film about an imagined African kingdom

  • that celebrates black innovation and black culture and authenticity,

  • but told using an Afrofuturist aesthetic, and it just made people

  • sit up and take notice.

  • I think the issue for me is that very much what's happened

  • a lot of the time and for a long time is black trauma

  • has been something that's been at the forefront, so problematic areas

  • like knife crime, and what that does in the long term

  • I think is that it creates a warped sense of what black culture is.

  • So we don't see enough of black achievement and black celebration,

  • what you get is this idea of a community being majorly problematic

  • and there are problems in any community.

  • So now more than ever with these stories coming out,

  • it's just a great counter because it shows that's not all we are.

  • I think our cultural gatekeepers need to be more open minded,

  • need to feed themselves more and read more and listen more

  • and create spaces to talk to people from those communities

  • and from the black community in particular.

  • And I think that will shape and change things.

  • So, it's just about being more open,

  • being more empathetic, listening and thinking about not just

  • seeing yourself reflected, but other audiences.

  • So if you're somebody in a position of power, say for example

  • you're a commissioning editor or a producer, look around you.

  • Who's at the table? What do they look like? If they all just look like you,

  • then that's an issue.

  • Thinking really imaginatively and creatively and wanting to be

  • very, very experimental in terms of how I approach what I do.

  • So again to counter some of the negative ideas or stories around

  • black culture, so thinking about celebrating what we've achieved.

  • So for example, my debut novel, part of it was set in the Benin Kingdom,

  • and my family are from Benin, so it was about reclaiming a lost heritage,

  • a kind of lost legacy,

  • and how fantastic it was to know about this kingdom,

  • to know about the level of art and history, we need to think more

  • imaginatively about what the fullness of blackness is and that

  • it's complicated and nuanced and really interesting

  • and to mind that and present that to the forefront.

  • Thanks for watching! :)

  • Don't forget to subscribe and click the bell to receive notifications for new videos.

  • See you again soon.

I'm Irenosen Okojie, I'm an author. In my humble opinion,

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What is 'black joy' and why do we need it in our lives? | BBC Ideas

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    Summer posted on 2020/10/12
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