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Heart Wisdom and Black Joy: A Conversation

In an hour-long conversation facilitated by Sherry Richert Belul, authors MJ Fievre, Kelvin Conrad Davis II, and Jasmine Respess discussed Black Joy and how they view the topic. Jasmine read a poem called “Pepper,” and MJ read a poem from her book Happy, Okay? entitled “I will Remember to Self Soothe.”

Kelvin talked about Black joy and the idea of Black masculinity, and making room for joy within the expectation of stoicism. Jasmine spoke about private moments of joy with her sister and other people close to her. MJ spoke about the cultivation of joy for someone for whom joy is not a natural occurring emotion, and how she makes a conscious effort to create a daily practice that includes joy. MJ also spoke of Black joy as an act of rebellion and an act of resistance.

Kelvin and MJ then shared their experiences as middle school teachers and how they saw Black joy being repressed amongst their students. Jasmine spoke about similar experiences as a tutor at a ballet program. They all chimed in for a discussion on how joy exists even in the midst of turmoil., for example at protests or in the aftermath of the devastating earthquake in Haiti. MJ spoke about the connection between joy and resilience, and how Black joy is an inheritance we are handed down from our ancestors. Jasmine talked about the skewed messages we receive from the media, and how we need to be wary of what we consume in the news.

There was much more covered in this hour-long conversation including questions and answers with some of the people viewing the event live. Be sure to check it out!


Kelvin Davis, author of “Notoriously Dapper: How to Be a Modern Gentleman with Manners, Style and Body Confidence,” has created a body positive style guide for men and has been featured in top-ranked media sources such as The New York Times, Glamour Magazine, BuzzFeed, and Huffington Post.

M.J. Fievre is the author of "Badass Black Girl: Questions, Quotes, and Affirmations for Teens" (Mango Publishing, 2020) and "Happy, Okay? Poems about Anxiety, Depression, Hope, and Survival" (Books & Books Press, 2019). She helps others write their way through trauma, build community, and create social change.

Jasmine Respess is a Florida native who writes about the intersections of her black Southern and Caribbean identities. At the New College of Florida, Respess spent her undergrad career as a journalist, so she utilizes interviews of family members and research in much of her work. The tradition of magical realism has inspired her, and she explores folktales and lore in her poems and non-fiction pieces.

Sherry Richert Belul, author of “Say it Now: 33 Creative Ways to Say I Love You to the Most Important People in Your Life,” is the founder of Simply Celebrate, a business dedicated to helping people live colorful, connected, creative lives of love and appreciation. Purchase the authors' books here:


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