Chloe and Maud Arnold, Phil Augusta Jackson and Michael Harriot Talk Black Joy at The Root Institute

Illustration for article titled Chloe and Maud Arnold, Phil Augusta Jackson and Michael Harriot Talk Black Joy at The Root Institute
Photo: Lee Gumbs; Courtesy Photo from Phil August Jackson; Avery Carter

What is Black joy? Is it a superhero? Is it a way of life? Is it under attack? The answer to all of those questions is both yes and...hmmm? Thankfully, to address and discuss the idea of Black joy, what it means on an individual basis as well as for the community—especially during times of crisis—The Root Institute convened choreographers, content creators and tap-dancer extraordinaires, Chloe and Maud Arnold; television writer, director and musician, Phil Augusta Jackson; and award-winning writer, humorist and Black life expert, Michael Harriot, for a fun, entertaining and dare I say, joyful, discussion titled, “Black Joy in Times of Crisis.”


Hosted by Panama Jackson—it me—we will discuss what Black joy means for everybody present, but also how they use their platforms to engage with that joy. We’re in a time in America where the country is going through a reckoning of sorts, where Black content is being devoured more than ever. With that increased visibility (which is good) can come increased scrutiny (that’s bad). We all have to think about what it means to be joyful in times of crisis, in general.

Similarly, they will all share how the idea of Black joy impacts the approach they bring to their work. For instance, Phil Augusta Jackson is a television writer who has written for shows like Insecure and Survivor’s Remorse, shows that center Blackness and he plans to talk about what perspectives he brings to the writer’s room to tell those stories authentically and accurately, knowing that when we get a chance to tell our stories, the product is better.

Chloe and Maud are content creators and artists who teach and spread the joy of tap-dancing through various means—through dance, they literally peddle joy to the community and help uplift and inspire. Plus, after seeing them put in work, you can’t help but want to become a tap-dancer yourself—which according to them, it’s never too late to get started.

Michael Harriot, engages with Black joy through his writing via The Root, even if Black joy isn’t the immediate goal, because of our innate Blackness and his upbringing, joy is present and accounted for in all facets of his work.

Also, we will address what happens when Black joy is under attack from both inside and outside of the community and how usually, “it be your own folks,” as we say in African America. And most importantly, we plan on expanding on the idea of protecting Black joy and what we all must do to hopefully spread love (I hear it’s the Brooklyn way) as far and as wide as possible.

So please check out “Black Joy in Times of Crisis” here at The Root Institute, today after 5 p.m. for a fun and joyful (pun intended) conversation with some fun and joyful people.


Join the discussion! The Root is hosting its first-ever, virtual Root Institute, presented by Target, featuring several of the leading minds in our community talking about politics, culture, health, community building and social impact. Subscribe for updates today!

Panama Jackson is the Senior Editor of Very Smart Brothas. He's pretty fly for a light guy. You can find him at your mama's mama's house drinking all her brown liquors.