On the last day of 2020, I read jokes on social media going around about black–eyed peas.
A tried-and-true tradition was turned into a cautionary tale: Don’t soak them peas this year. They didn’t bring us a lick of luck of 2020. We’re walking into 2021 with new traditions.
I laughed and agreed at first, but then I thought about it. What if the peas we sowed on our New Year’s plates actually did sprout goodness? It was just harder to see and hear because it is hard to turn down the volume of a global pandemic and generations worth of racial trauma. But hope is still there —breathing and alive.
Which is why I am starting the first Black Joy of the year with a powerful video featuring Black Alabamians singing “Auld Lang Syne,” the Scottish ballad you hear every new year. In a video titled “For The Sake Of Old Times,” Birmingham-based Studio 1504 harmonized the choir’s performance with emotional images of this summer’s protest and the downfall of Confederate monuments.
And y’all, the video will give you chills of hope and a remind you that not all of 2020 should be forgotten.
So continue eat your black–eyed peas, y’all. It is not too late and I’m sure your ancestors will forgive you. As another way to remind you of the kindness of 2020, here are five moments of Black Joy we won’t forget:
- In collaboration with the Magic City Poetry Festival, we celebrated the power of the Black community through drums and spoken word during Juneteenth.
- Birminghamian Lauren Hood continues her journey to become an Olympic gymnast – at age 11. May her kind words help you snatch your goals this year because clearly she is. “Give it your best and do not give up. It’s one of the best things you can ever do because you build confidence, strength (mentally and physically), and skill.”
- Theresa Jackson Jordan, who is 54, celebrated the end of a chaotic election season with her baton twirling magic while performing Beyonce’s cover of “Before I Let Go.” “If you are stuck and there is something that used to bring you joy and you haven’t done it in a while, I think you should start anew.”
Ready for some melanin magic? 💫 Check out this video of Theresa Jackson Jordan using her batons as an extension of her #BlackJoy as she and others dance in the streets of Birmingham to @Beyonce cover of “Before I Let Go” pic.twitter.com/7wxzTxJ3da
— Jonece Starr Dunigan (@StarrDunigan) November 13, 2020
- Environmental justice activist Catherine Flowers won the prestigious MacArthur Foundation “genius grant” and will be raking in $625,000 worth of grant funds over five years. Flowers talks about how literally growing up with those who founded “Black power” empowered her to fight for the South. “My ancestors are here. They are in the soil here. I feel like part of my strength comes from my ancestors and I want to honor them by continuing to make this place better.”
- Wesley Thompson steps with his sons as he celebrates Alpha Phi Alpha’s Founder’s Day – hoping to turn them into Alphas, too. Cause you know, legacies.
May we all continue to embrace our own Black magic and move in love, kindness and joy in 2021. See y’all next time!
Share your moments of Black joy with us. Send me an email at [email protected] and share your happiness and laughter with us! Also, take a minute to check out and join the Black Magic Project’s Facebook page where we celebrate and discuss Black culture and community.