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The Black Joy Project: A Literary and Visual Love Letter to How We Thrive
Kleaver Cruz


Featuring 117 full-color photos and eight breathtaking essays on a force that fuels Black life all around the globe, this is Humans of New York meets The Black Book

"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." – Michael W. Twitty, culinary and cultural historian, and author of The Cooking Gene and Koshersoul

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 Jamaica’s Blue Mountains. 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. Now—at last—is a one-of-a-kind celebration of this truth and a life-giving testament to one of the most essential forces that fuels Black life: The Black Joy Project.

International in the scale, fist-raising in the prose, and chockfull of gorgeous works by dozens of acclaimed artists, The Black Joy Project does what no other book has ever done. In words and art, it puts joy on the same track as protest and resistance … because that is how life is actually lived. Uprisings in the street, with music as accompaniment. Heartbreaking funerals followed by second line parades. Microaggressions in the office, then coming home to a warm hug and a garden of lilacs. The list goes on. Black Joy is always held in tension with broader systemic wounds. It is a powerful, historically important salve that allows us to keep going and reimagine new ways of being. The Black Joy Project captures these dual realities to incredible, unforgettable effect.

The brainchild of educator and activist Kleaver Cruz, The Black Joy Project is an extension of a real-world initiative of the same name. It has become a source of healing and regeneration for Black people of all backgrounds and identities. Long overdue and somehow still worth the wait, The Black Joy Project is a necessary addition for any book lover, art enthusiast, or freedom fighter. And begs the question, What does Black Joy mean to you?


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. 


'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

[H]  Mariner Books  |  December 26, 2023

224 pages