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Mariner Books

The Black Joy Project by Kleaver Cruz (Hardcover)

The Black Joy Project by Kleaver Cruz (Hardcover)

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Nonfiction - Social Sciences - Black Studies - Literary Collections - Essays


This special, totally singular, nearly uncomp-able book is a LITERARY *and* VISUAL love letter to the role of joy in Black life  giving a full, 360-degree picture of how Black people resist oppression and thrive.

(The book is to be savored in the read and in the aesthetics.)

“Unlike happiness, joy is a lasting state that can be sustained even when everything is not the way we want it to be.”  bell hooks

Black Joy is everywhere. From the bustling streets of Lagos to hip-hop blasting through apartment windows in the Bronx. From the wide-open coastal desert of Namibia to the lush slopes of the Blue Mountains of Jamaica. From the thriving tradition of Candomblé in Bahia to the innovative and trendsetting styles of Soweto, and beyond, Black Joy is present in every place that Black people exist. 

Too often, though, Blackness gets represented with pain, suffering and violence. Yet what is always in the mix—what is always constant, no matter the historical atrocity or systemic injustice—is Black Joy. Amplifying Black Joy is not about dismissing or creating an “alternative” narrative that ignores the realities of collective hurt. Rather, it is about holding the hurt, in tension with the joy, because that is how Black people around the world actually live. Joy deserves more credit for the self-preservation and survival of Black communities than it tends to get.

Enter The Black Joy Project.

Created by educator and activist Kleaver Cruz, The Black Joy Project is a digital and real-world affirmation that Black Joy is a source of healing, resistance, and regeneration, for Black people of all backgrounds and identities. The book expands on a simple question at the root of the project: “What does Black Joy mean to you?” Cruz’s powerful treatise on the subject, combined with stunning, vibrant images of Black Joy in everyday life, present a necessary, perspective-shifting work. Each page of The Black Joy Project is a reprieve for the spirit and, in capturing life across the diaspora, offers an opportunity to do what Black Joy does best: reimagine new ways of being.


Kleaver Cruz (they/them) is a Black, queer, Dominican-American writer and educator from New York City. Cruz is the creator of The Black Joy Project, a digital and real-world affirmation that Black Joy is resistance. The Black Joy Project has been featured in British Vogue,, the Huffington Post and various other publications in print and online. Cruz is a member of We Are All Dominican, a U.S.-based, grassroots collective that works in solidarity with movements led by Dominicans of Haitian descent fighting for inclusion and citizenship rights in the Dominican Republic. Cruz is also an alum of the Voices of Our Nations Arts (VONA) Foundation's Emerging Writers Non-Fiction Workshop and the Kenyon Review Writers Fiction Workshop.

"The Black Joy Project is The Black Book for a new millennium. Here is a patchwork quilt of visually stunning images, captured moments of triumph, antidotes to trauma narratives and rich, ebullient emotional and verbal spice for the soul. This is an irreplaceable volume." -Michael W. Twitty, culinary and cultural historian, and author of The Cooking Gene and Koshersoul: The Faith and Food Journey of an African American Jew
"A bath and a balm. Powerful words accompanied by vibrant images affirm a joy that is not only palpable but possible. A promise and a prayer. Kleaver Cruz reminds us of all the ways that we've already experienced it and all the ways we are guaranteed to experience it again. As brilliant as it is beautiful, The Black Joy Project shows us, literally, that joy is ours for the naming." -Yaba Blay, author of One Drop: Shifting the Lens on Race
"What a book! What a wonder-full reckoning. A well of resistance, reclamation, and restorative splendor! I ate up The Black Joy Project in one grateful gulp and plan to return to these pages again and again." -Camille T. Dungy, author of Soil: The Story of a Black Mother's Garden
"The Black Joy Project is a material expression of the everyday reverberations of Black ebullience that are often glossed over and characterized as less critical than rage. Black joy is a disruptive force, however, which upends the power of anti-Blackness and fortifies the collective spirit of Black people. Kleaver Cruz knows that to be true and has offered us this gift of a book that won't soon be forgotten for its beauty and power." -Darnell L. Moore, author of No Ashes in the Fire: Coming of Age Black and Free in America
"Through exquisite essays and soul-grabbing art, Kleaver Cruz shows the majesty and many meanings of Black joy in the African Diaspora. The Black Joy Project is a gift that must be shared." -Jasmin Hernandez, author of We Are Here: Visionaries of Color Transforming the Art World
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