Rancho celebrates Black Joy during Black History Month


Jalen Ables

Our amazing staff on campus!

Dhani Scott, Staff Reporter

Every February for the last 45 years, the United States recognizes Black History Month. During this month, the community amps up its knowledge and recognition of the contributions and achievements of African Americans.


For many people, this month offers a lot of new information about the achievements and milestones of Black Americans. It is that knowledge and empowerment that help spark Black joy.


What exactly is Black joy? Some students weren’t familiar with the term.

Sophomore, Lenny Wilson, was one of them. He said, “I haven’t heard the term, but when I think of it I think of it, I think of a healthy, prosperous (Black) community.”


Many influential people sparked that joy for Wilson. Wilson said Malcolm X, Martin Luther King Jr., and the Black Panther Party come to mind when he thinks of Black joy.


During a recent BSU (Black Student Union) meeting, Wilson also shared a long list of lesser-known African Americans who made significant contributions to society. While too many Black history lessons typically focus on the struggles and sacrifices of African Americans, Black joy is like a ray of light. It is the natural resistance to adversity that always seems to shine through.


English teacher and BSU co-advisor, Mrs. Jenna Jemison described Black joy as “combating racial oppression with happiness.” Jemison said, “We do this by celebrating our culture, achievements, art, music, etc.”


When asked about who in Black history brings her joy, she mentions the importance of genealogy and her and her husband’s family history. According to Jemison, storytelling is another important part of Black culture that she truly appreciates and she has a list of Black figures that inspire her.


During the pandemic and especially since the beginning of the Black Lives Matter protests, Jemison has made sure to be a model of Black joy at home and inside of her classroom. Knowing what is happening in the world, she said she wants her students to feel seen and heard. Jemison is doing this through essays, stories, and most importantly, conversation. Jemison provides her students with what she refers to as mirrors and windows.


“A mirror to see a reflection of themself and a window to provide an opening into the world,” Jemison said. “For them, I hope my classroom is their joy. I know it is for me.”


Black Joy is a pride that shines through all year long, and Jemison’s students know this. It isn’t confined to one month, one person, or one topic. It is knowing the value of African American culture and its contributions and celebrating Black Joy every day.