McKenzie Chinn



not even the moon outside
got a better glow up
than so much brown skin
under this roof
under party lights
beats bending bodies
such abandon
spine undulation and hips dip hands up
air waving body rock and
great capacity of all our lungs combined and
filled to keep up with speakerboxxx
poppin the illest mc’s fastest flow,
and this is how we keep on breathing,
this is how we defy:
meet a history of held down
with the sheer will of our come up,
sheer force of our get down, and
with laughter so raucous to rock us, these lit bodies.
you switch off all the body cams you want,
we see, we know, been known, and
every squad car from here to Baltimore
to Baton Rouge and back
can’t stop this body rock
can’t stop this breakbeat
can’t stop this juke, and
can’t stop this joy.

i write to honor that which i feel needs honoring. i write to understand and remember. we are in a moment now - as nation, as a society - that we must seek to better understand and remember. it's a moment of accepted racial violence and, for people of color, perennial racial trauma.

it is also, however, a moment in which i feel my people - black americans and our allies - pushing back, building our own, forwarding a kind of renaissance. much of what i have written this year seeks to honor the spirit of that renaissance, and to counteract the trauma forced upon us by so much institutional racism and intolerance. in my writing, one of the ways i have tried to counteract this oppression is through joy.

THE BLACK JOY PARTY is a real thing that happened. i hosted it after this summer's murders of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile. the goal was to create a space where blackness was 1. celebrated 2. central, and 3. majority. we were replenished in one another.

sometimes we have to convene.

sometimes BLACK JOY is an act of civil disobedience.

back to contents