I met Kleaver Cruz in 2016 at the “AfroLatinas in the Digital Diaspora: Reconnecting Identity through Social Media” workshop in Puerto Rico, where I was a panelist. After the panel I got a chance to hang out with Kleaver and hear about his Black Joy Project. I knew that I wanted to share the work that he is doing with our Boriqua Chicks audience. Meet Kleaver below!
New York City
New York City
Describe the work that you do…
I have answered the call to do Black joy work through an initiative I started, The Black Joy Project; I am a lover of words, a reader and writer. I publicly write non-fiction about black queerness, my journey and important issues/occurrences happening in the Diaspora (I secretly write fiction ha ha). I am also currently the Editorial Associate at Nation Books.
What inspired this work?
Black joy is an element of our experience that has always coincided with the pain and tragedy that we have been forced to endure. Wherever and whenever Black people have existed, so has Black joy. That means it has been around since the beginning of our existence on this planet. Black joy offers healing and community building that is necessary for our journey to wholeness. It also offers an opportunity to use one of the most radical tools we have access to, imagination. Imagining and ultimately creating the world that we need, that loves us back fully, is what will lead towards making the changes that are imperative to make. It’s also important that as Black people we connect the dots and see the common threads between us, across the world. I see joy as one way of making those connections.
What piece of advice/ encouragement would you give to other Afro-Latinx who want to make moves?
First, I don’t feel the need to subscribe to any one label. I’m actually not a huge fan of “afro-latinx” at the moment, as I ask questions and work through what this element of my identity is. What I do know, is that it’s ok to be in this space. Second, listen. Listen to your spirit, it will guide you. That little feeling you get in your chest when something feels really right, listen to that! That feeling is what brought The Black Joy Project to life. It’s what has allowed me to travel the world with it and have so many experiences I could have never imagined.
What is one valuable resource that has been helpful on your journey?
Notebooks! I love to write my thoughts and ideas down. I highly encourage you to always have a notebook and pen on you. If your phone dies, you still have a way to catch whatever is in your head that needs to get out.
How can people reach you?
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