Thank You

A snap shot form our sunrise Tai Chi, Qigong Class.
Thanks to the Boston Foundation and Reebok for the BlackJoy Shirts.

Thank you for all your support to make our first BlackJoy Day a success.

Boston City Councilor at Large Julia Mejia lift us all with her powerful closing words

My heart is so full of gratitude to everyone who embraced the vision and meaning of the day and showed your support, whether in person or virtually. BlackJoy Day was meant to be a moment for us to unapologetically embrace our God-given ability to restore our light within by remembering who we are, whose we are, and why we are. From the rising of the sun on Saturday, the day was filled with wisdom, laughter, bonding, and creativity.

The amazing photographer Charlotte James, family Self Portrait

Thank you to every speaker, performer, panelist, and volunteer. Each one of you in your own special way ushered in the joy by sharing your gifts with us. To everyone that submitted and posted your Black Joy Day images, I am working out a way to share everything and not miss anything. It will all be posted soon. 

Our Sunrise gathering opening speaker Cathy Darine and her beautiful daughter.


Also, I have heard the feedback and the excitement for our celebration of BlackJoy to continue. Stay tuned for announcements for how I would like this to move forward. Finally, for all us who chose to use our respective platforms in the ways we find meaningful and valuable for our community there is always a level of risk of coming across the wrong way, BlackJoy Day was no exception. Yet, I am convinced it is our duty to show up and be our full selves if we are to support this movement for equity, equality, and justice. Our joy is our strength. We ARE the ones we’ve been waiting for.

Shaumba-Yandje Dibinga and The OrigNations Cultural Center Dancers – Their spoken word and dance performance made the Sun stop, look, and listen.

Articles About The Day:

The Brigham Joins Boston Celebration of Black Joy, read it here

WBUR. Sept 12 is Black Joy Day in Boston, read it here

Joy is a Revolutionary Act

You know I’m a sunrise guy. Join me this Saturday September 12th at Franklin Park “Playstead” area for a social distance event! “Mask Required

“BlackJoy Day Gathering and Launch” at PlayStead Park across from the Giraffe entrance of the Franklin Park Zoo,

6:30 – 7:00am: Tai Chi, Qigong meditation and movement.

7:00 – 8:00am: Spoken Word, Music, Youth Voices, Black Men Unity Moment, Lifting our SistersYou can also pick up your black joy shirt that morning.

A Few More Events

Road To Wellness 5K: The livestream kick-off event at 8:30 a.m. on Saturday, September 12th (VIRTUAL RACE DAY)! The livestream will be shared on our Road to Wellness website and Facebook page. Join us for encouraging words from the partners, a special message from the B.A.A.’s High Performance Team Member, Erika Kemp, the debut of this year’s Road to Wellness video (will you be in it?), and a warm up led by Coach Gael.

11:00am: “Java with Jimmy” A conversation with black men about BlackJoy” with special guest Authors Richard Taylor and Eric Harrison. https://www.facebook.com/javawithJimmy/

1:00 pm: Julia Mejia City Councilor At-Large hosting “Black Joy Day Performance”

This program will consist of poetry readings, musical performances, art exhibitions, and more!

3:30 – 5:00: Comic in Color Vol 27

This Month:
• Featured Creator: Sam Stevquoah
Stevquoah is the Lowell based Creator of Mill City’s Finest•

GROUP DISCUSSION: Should Black Panther’s T’Challa be recast or should the character end with the passing of Chadwick Boseman? Comics In Color is a safe space where you can come and get your nerd on about illustrated stories by and about people of color.

To RSVP: https://forms.gle/21noNMLuhNhBZWPAA

Clarity: you cannot purchase a BlackJoy T-shirt for Saturday. Thanks to TBF and Reebok the shirts are free but you have to do one of two things to receive the shirt (see below). You can pick up a shirt at Saturdays live event in Franklin Park or have one delivered or mail next week.

Agree to send me a short video wearing the shirt that I can post of you saying the following:1. Recite the BlackJoy Day Motto.(Our Greatness is older than our OppressionMy Strength is Greater than my Struggle.)and Share your “My BlackJoy “moment. with the #BlackjoyMA20202.

Post a photo of you wearing the shirt and Share your “My BlackJoy “moment. #BlackjoyMA2020 Email me at blackjoyma2020@gmail.com

More Black Joy Day information coming soon!

BlackJoy Day Details

BlackJoy Day is a day to appreciate and celebrate our power to uplift ourselves and others even in the midst of the trials and tribulations that we face. It is an acknowledgement of our perseverance and determination to find and be the light that inspires us to march on until victory is won. BlackJoy does not negate our tears, fears or frustrations. Nor does it ignore our responsibility to assist in the rebuilding of our most vulnerable communities. BlackJoy undergirds our collective spirit to do more and be more through the grace of God and the legacy of our ancestors. It is a reminder that our laughter, the things we love, our unapologetic joy fuels our liberation.

Being mindful of the health/safety guidelines and restrictions because of CoVID-19, I am only hosting one in person community event on Saturday, September 12, 2020. I invite all nonprofits, businesses, youth lead organizations and you to join me for a physically distanced and masked sunrise service. The location will be determined shortly.  I encourage you to shop at a black owned business, eat in or take out from your favorite or try a new black owned restaurant. Host a small in person or virtual family event that sparks your BlackJoy. 

Most importantly, I invite you to commemorate BlackJoy Day by taking the day to fully embrace the things that fuel your spirit and bring you peace and joy.

Now, how do you get a BlackJoy t-shirt for September 12th? You have to be willing to share with us how you celebrated BlackJoy Day. Post your BlackJoy Day moments with the shirt on and share them with us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter wearing the shirt. Email me at blackjoyma2020@gmail.com for more information

Face Our Fears Without Flinching

“Our deepest fear,” wrote Marianne Williamson in A Return to Love, is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.”, these words resonated with me as I processed the hateful messages that I received throughout this last week with the announcement of September 12th as “BlackJoy Day” in Boston. Those bigoted comments took me to this image I captured a few months ago on the grounds of historic Faneuil Hall – land donated to the city of Boston by slave trafficker and owner Peter Faneuil. I found myself revising Ms. Williamson’s words to comprehend why a day that has nothing to do with those commentators would elicit such a response. Is it their deepest fear that Black people are not inadequate but powerful beyond measure? This photo represents to me an underlying fear of this movement for justice, equality and equity. I am challenging myself to uncloak the fear so that the work that is happening is not stalled because we refuse to name it and deal with it before it causes more unnecessary harm.

I have grappled with this photo and whether or not to share it because I did not want this homeless man, who happens to be white, to be denied his humanity even as my Brothers and I take a stand for ours. The juxtaposition however is precisely what makes the image powerful to me and I wonder what is the truth of this image? Does it represent what makes those who uphold white supremacy and systemic racism fearful? Does the thought of becoming invisible and having to ask for something they have never entirely given Black people make them shudder? Is this what they are so afraid of, Black men from CEOs to no “O’s” standing together without shackles and chains against an oppressive system built from hatred and enforced by brutality? Are they terrified of their undeniable evil deeds fully exposed by the lens of a camera, cellphones, or body cameras? Are they scared there is no redemption for the countless brutal acts of their ancestors?  Are they afraid of what they will lose for others to rightfully gain their breath of life? Whatever the answers to those questions are, it is not the responsibility of Black people to give up our real lives to quell the baseless fears and insecurities of others. 

To my Brothers and Sisters, Dr. King wrote in one of his sermons, “First, we must face our fears without flinching. We must honestly ask ourselves why we are afraid. The confrontation will, to some measure, grant us power…” As we continue to usher in this new day of justice, equity, and equality for Black people, fear must be banished. Everything we are seeking is on the other side of the fear. I apologize for every time my fear of speaking truth to power has stalled the progress of our community. Further, I apologize for the moments my words and deeds have been reactionary because of my desire to seize a moment rather than reinforcing our movement with wisdom, strategy and mindfulness. I commit to using power, love, joy, and a sound mind moving forward.

Bumping Fist with God

Good Monday Morning, I chose to post only a few of my photos from the last few months of protest until I believed my audience could find their way with my photos differently. Nowadays we don’t see a protest photo posted every min, so I hope you can see more than anger and frustration but  #BlackJoy, pride, love, determination and legacy building within this capture “Bumping Fist with God” If you know the family, you know the legacy, if you know that man, you know the change, if you know the young “King” you know his destiny is”Greatness!”. 

Taken during Boston Men’s Dinner Group Silent Protest – Saturday – June 6, Placards are inscribed with the name of Sister or Brother slain or abused by law enforcement.

Open Letter to My Brothers

My Brothers, 

First and foremost, I love you and miss our physical connectedness. While I’ve marched beside you over the last week, I’ve had difficulty verbalizing my feelings about the knee turned noose that publicly lynched our brother George Floyd.  Coupled with the murders of Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade, and Sean Reed, and the many other black men, women, and children whose faces were running through my mind – rage consumed me.  It has taken all that I believe in to check my anger. Even now, I am leaning on the power, grace, and resilience of my ancestors, so the words I offer are not an anguished roar too loud to hear. 

I want all of you to know you are not alone in your grief, in your frustration, in your anger.  I am tired of the knee of structural racism on my neck, slowly choking me until my breath becomes faint, and my heart races so high that the only words I can utter are “mama.” I have come to understand systemic racism is linked like the shackles that bound our ancestors in the belly of those ships. The only way we will dismantle it and reach equality is if we name each link of the chains that have us bound in this country.

Like you, I am tired of the police using the phrases “reasonable assumption” and “perceived threat” to defend their racist acts and the destructive illegal plundering of our bodies and lives.

I am tired of the disingenuous calls, emails, and texts from white friends feigning outrage so they can keep their liberal identity intact for the sake of their careers, questioning children, and ego. Yet after they reach out, they go right back to their privilege and biases.  I am tired of people interpreting my truth-telling about the specific concerns of Black people as skewed and lesser than because they want a lofty theoretical discussion that will not lead to action.

I am tired of pandering politicians who are using our pain to further their ambitions. They are with us until they are elected and then during budget season, contract selection, policy development, and hiring; they unfailingly vote against our interest. I am tired of the philanthropic community, building funding playgrounds where only the elite, connected, and subservient can play and do minimal uniformed work. Grassroots organizations and innovative, nontraditional leaders have to wait for the storms and strong winds to blow before they are temporarily allowed to play and never receive funding at the level their work warrants.

Like you, I am tired of the gatekeepers using their power and influence to keep people out rather than providing support to get others at the table. Are we ready to admit that some of the stagnation in our community is because these gatekeepers keep things at a level they can control and prop up the oppression of our people?

Like you, I am tired of the divide between black people born in the United States and those who have immigrated here from various islands. We act as if we had a choice where the boat dropped us rather than acknowledge all of our ancestors were brought to foreign shores shackled. Being born in America has given us no greater privilege, speaking the language of another colonizing country will not ward off oppression. Being divided only fortifies the structure of inequality.

What are you and I to do, what will it take to break these chains finally? Here are a few of my many thoughts:

Hold our white friends and allies, politicians, and power brokers that are awakening right now accountable. Firmly declare it’s not time to straddle the fence, and we care about their actions, not their words. They need to get informed, go more in-depth, and tell us what they are going to do, what they’re going to accomplish. Let them know if they are not working toward a solution; they are not working with us but rather reinforcing the chains that keep us oppressed.

It’s time for us to put that glove on our right hand and place our left hand over our heart. The right-hand needs the glove, so we don’t lose grip on the sledgehammer of justice. Then we break every shackle of this oppressive system.  We can and must break economic inequality, subversive governmental policy and laws, health disparities, and police brutality. 

The left hands over the heart is to ensure we have the tough conversations, and reckoning we need to heal us from the years of trauma and internalized oppression that has kept us from swinging in unified consistency with impact. Deep within us, we remember the cadence of freedom. Our greatness is older than our oppression. Our community, our people, need us to rise in our purpose to make way for the radical imagination of our youth and honor the lived wisdom of our elders.

Again, I love you, brothers. I pray we come together and draw on each other’s strengths. 

Thaddeus Miles

Our Season to Heal

The third chapter of Ecclesiastes teaches all things will have a season. As we enact plans of recovery from COVID-19, I hope that we take all the lessons this response season has taught us to have a recovery season that genuinely transforms us all. Physical distancing, while a necessary tool to hinder community spread of COVID-19, has meant the cultural gatherings intended for comfort and support during trying times ceased. Whether it is funerals, family reunions, cultural festivals, these touchpoints aid in the creation and promotion of healthy, vibrant, and safe communities. And while we are more than our meeting places, they certainly give us strength and guidance in trying times. For this reason, I am asking you to join me on September 12th-13th for a weekend of healing and restoration for the African Diasporic community of Greater Boston and beyond.

 This pandemic is a call to action to address the areas of inequity that have long needed a remedy in our community. From the lack of access to healthy food, educational deficits, and economic vulnerability to unaddressed social-emotional concerns, we have an opportunity to respond with a resolve like never before. Let’s launch our season of breakthrough and restoration through culturally reflective moments of performing arts, remembering our history, health and wellness checks, information sharing, supporting local business growth, and spiritual renewal. During this weekend, we will also honor the youth and young adult leaders who are rising and making exceptional strides for us all. 

I intend to begin with a planning call mid-June and move forward from there. I do hope we will have your involvement. Please feel free to contact me for any additional information.  As we move into this new season for our community, may your work continued to be blessed.

Sincerely,

Thaddeus Miles

A River of Forgiveness

Today Challenge: Choose to love and forgive yourself. 

On my walk this morning, I stopped at a water break in Lowell to breathe in the freshness of the air and close my eyes and listen to the water for a few mins. During the mediation, the word regret came up. In-between my breaths, I focus on what regret is and the harm it causes, I reinforce the distinction between remorse and regret: remorse enables you to move forward, but regret chains you to the past. 

Most importantly, I honored that regret is the lack of self-forgiveness in its purest form, and when you have regret, there is a part of you that not only hates what you did but hates yourself for doing it. 

With that in mind, I decided I needed to take an inventory of what regret has cost me, to consider how regret may have siphoned off my creativity, my peace of mind, my optimism, and my ability to see the blessings right in front of me.

As I open my eyes and saw the beauty and power of the water moving down the river, I decided to see the river as my river of forgiveness, so I release one point of regret into the stream and vision that pain point of regret flowing down my river of forgiveness away for me. 

I ask you to take a moment and listen to the wind and water in the video and allow it to become you rive of forgiveness, drop something you need to let go into it and vision it drifting away for you. #BlackJoy #Forgiveness

A Moment of Reflection

Good Morning, Today challenge, do something different. I’ve decided I’m going to fast from sunrise to sunset every Friday, here’s why.

My Wednesday Morning truth: Over the past several weeks, I’ve acted like all is good by ignoring my feeling of anger, shame, sadness, depression, and anxiety. I’ve moved like I’m not privileged by complaining to myself and others about zoom meetings, long lines at the market, and the boredom of sitting at home. Truth is I can have up to four devices on the internet at my house when my son and grandson are over, and I have every platform Netflix, Hulu, you name it, while others have no or limited access. I can purchase anything in the market I’m waiting to get in, while the person in front or behind me might be limited to what they can buy. I can get up any morning and drive an hour or two to see the sunrise at any beautiful beach in New England, while others have to risk their lives to ride the transit to get to work, by food or medicine, etc.

What am I saying? I’ve lost some of my grace and voice at times over the last few weeks. While I know all the details and doing work to change the impact of the virus, I haven’t truly felt what so many under-resourced black folk are going through right now. Nor have I been as brave and courageous with my voice as I usually am. 

Maybe some of you will fast with me. Perhaps some of you will lift your voice with me. I pray you will take a moment to reflect, tap into your grace, raise your voice, and lead. It’s time for us, so-called leaders, to do something different.