This is an email from Keepin' It 💯, a newsletter by ZORA.
Hey, ZORA Fam.
It’s Jolie A. Doggett and Christina M. Tapper, here to wish you a Happy Juneteenth! Wherever you are, we hope you are safe, healthy, and taking this day to do something for you. To say these past few weeks have been a lot is an understatement. Earlier this week, during a virtual check-in, we had a real, honest moment of letting it all out to discuss grief and exhaustion, and our insistence of claiming joy amid it all. Here’s a snippet of that convo:
Jolie, ZORA platform editor: There’s this gospel song by Tamela Mann called “Take Me To The King.” The first lyric goes: “truth is I’m tired.” That’s exactly how I feel. The news cycle, social media, Black women disappearing and dying, well-meaning white people doing the most while doing the least. It’s all been exhausting. And honestly, I feel bad that I’m so tired. There’s still so much more work to do.
Christina, ZORA deputy editor: I totally feel you. My girls and I got together last week for a socially-distanced talk about collective grief and how to handle this hypervisibility we now have. Like, all of a sudden we’re being “seen.” We question the authenticity of these “check-ins” and towns halls that attempt to address workplace inequities and divisions. But, whew! It’s tiresome to cut through the white guilt, drenched in white tears. We don’t have time for this!
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Jolie: We don’t have time for this! I feel like everyone and everything is demanding so much of us. We need to fight for Black lives while we grieve the frequent loss of Black women’s lives while we stay up to date on everything going on in the global movement while we educate our non-Black peers about our very existence.
Christina: I’m struggling with having the emotional bandwidth to deal with it all, while trying to revel in the joy of being a Black woman in this moment. I’m curious, how are you managing your capacity and finding joy?
Jolie: With so much going on, it can feel really exhausting being Black right now. But I’m trying to remind myself that I LOVE being Black! I think it’s the coolest thing! I love the creativity, style, skill, strength, variety and history within my culture. And I refuse to let racism make me forget that.
Christina: I know that’s right!
Jolie: So I’ve really been trying to make joy my contribution to the revolution.
Christina: I love that as a personal mission statement.
Jolie: I’m dancing to our music, I’m investing in Black creations and creativity. I’m looking forward to truly celebrating Juneteenth this year! I’m also going to therapy because, girl, we need it! How are you keeping your head up?
Christina: I’m buying fresh flowers and revisiting the poetry of Nikki Giovanni and Lucille Clifton. That not only gives me joy, but also peace and understanding. Dance parties in my living room helps too!
Jolie: It’s bringing me some peace to look ahead to when all of the work we’re putting in leads to a more free society. I’m so proud of us. Even though it’s hard right now, looking to the future makes me smile.
In January, we brought you the ZORA literary canon. This week, we bring you the ZORA Music Canon, our list of the 100 most iconic albums by African American women. Celebrating artists like Ella Fitzgerald, Lil’ Kim, and Brittany Howard, the ZORA Music Canon gives props to Black women recording artists for their genius and their glory. To create this robust offering, we enlisted the help of MC Lyte, journalist and author Danyel Smith, former entertainment executive Naima Cochrane, and more, for a four-part project that will make your soul sing.
🎤 Having Our Say 🎤
ZORA: It’s really admirable that you found your purpose in bringing joy to others. What brings you joy, especially right now during these heavy times?
Eunique Jones Gibson: Joy comes from my children. They’re still innocent and joyous and singing and interrupting Zoom calls by running past in their underwear. I’m happy when they’re happy. Joy comes from creating. Joy comes from seeing people consume what I’ve created. Seeing people having fun with CultureTags — man, that’s mind-blowing right now. It’s bringing me joy to bring joy to other people.
There’s so many things that tried to take us out centuries ago, so even when I see the news and I see how we’re being disproportionately affected by the pandemic, by police brutality, by systemic racism, there’s still hope, there’s still joy. I know too many people who have invested their time, energy, and resources to finding a better way. There’s no give-up in them, and that gives me hope.
👀 Honestly, If 👀
Moments we want to see more of… or never again.
Honestly, if Lawrence and Issa don’t stay together in the next season of HBO’s Insecure, I don’t know what the Black community is gonna do. We got enough going on, we can’t take anymore heartbreak! We wanna see Black love win!
✨ The Best of Us ✨
News, art, and stories worth celebrating. All by or for WOC.
∙ Call this one a big win for Hollywood: Ava DuVernay, an Oscar nominee for her searing Netflix doc 13th, has been elected to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ Board of Governors.
∙ Sometimes dealmakers come in small packages. Thirteen-year-old social media star “That Girl Lay Lay” will be bringing her Black Girl Magic to Nickelodeon.
∙ Podcast alert: Journalist Rebecca Carroll recently launched a new talkfest focused on unpacking issues of race in America. Guests include Gabrielle Union, Issa Rae and Ava DuVernay. Take a listen!
∙ Congratulations to Raven Symone on her recent nuptials! Love is love is love.
∙ ForHarriet’s Kimberly Foster and Dr. Brittney Cooper have candid conversation about what happens to Black women and girls in a world without police.