Black Joy in Green Spaces [Episode 13]

In this episode, two time TEDx speaker and eco-spiritualist, Chris Omni, MPH, shines her bright light on us in a celebration of Black joy in green spaces. This is her poetic theorization of Black joy:

“Black Joy is a Statement, Black Joy is a Stride, Black Joy is Permission, Black Joy is Pride, Black Joy is a form of Resistance, Black Joy is a form of Rest, Black Joy is ANYTHING you need it to be because Black Joy is truly the best!”

Chris’s enthusiasm for life is entirely contagious and you will not want to miss our entire conversation. Here are some of the highlights:

  • Grounded in a sense of place with a little storytelling, Chris tells us about the newest addition to her healing garden: a resilient elephant ear plant that is flourishing despite being found near death in a trash pile.


  • There was a pivotal moment when Chris realized she needed Black joy to be her focus; she had a remembering that Mother Earth has always loved her and was just waiting for her to show up.


  • Black joy is a form of resistance, providing an entirely different story to the deficit narrative transferred through our culture, particularly through Black women’s health research. 


  • There is a frequency to Black joy, the way it moves through the body, it is a statement that is both verbal and non-verbal, it is a stride. 


  • Chris offers a powerful example of witnessing Black joy as a statement, watching a mother and father move through green spaces in their stride, all the while providing a generational message of Black joy as pride to their children. 


  • Black joy is also based in rest, removing the “metaphorical cape of the strong black woman” which Chris describes as “a tired narrative, a narrative that will strangle the life out of us.” 


  • Calling in Black joy as rest makes space for loving self, others, community, and nature. Using a “praxis of pause, we can build rest, pause, and reflection into our daily lives.”


  • Chris describes how she purposely pushes back on capitalism by not being on the clock and instead taking the first two hours of everyday to press pause on the demands of the day until she first meets the demands of herself.


  • Chris lights up talking about her love affair with trees: “I love their presence, their height, their symbolism, their crowns… the branches of trees, like ancestors reaching out to each other.”


More about Chris Omni:

Mother Earth Academy: a nature inspired space of teaching and learning

Kujima Health and Art: the Kujima Report shines a light on the disparities that many Black womxn face 

Self-love Sunday (SLS): inviting members into a divinely designed space of eco-mindfulness, peace, love, and slowFULLness. The SLS experience includes a jar of shea butter bearing the same name - Self Love. SLS is open to every soul of Love and Light! 

Black Joy as a Stride: a visual inquiry and official submission for the 2022 SoundWalk September Global Festival hosted by Walk Listen Create! 

TJ Collections: the True Joy Collections, filmed in honor of Chris’s father, Thomas James.


Other Resources:

"Nature Swagger: Stories and Visions of Black Joy in the Outdoors" by Rue Mapp

"We Are Each Other's Harvest: Celebrating African American Farmers, Land, and Legacy" by Natalie Baszile

"Black Faces, Whites Spaces: Reimagining the Relationship of African Americans to the Great Outdoors" by Carolyn Finney

"Black Nature: Four Centuries of African-American Nature Poetry" by Camille T. Dungy

"Trace: Memory, History, Race, and the American Landscape" by Lauret Savoy

"The Color of Nature: Culture, Identity, and the Natural World" by Lauret Savoy & Alison Hawthorne Deming

And for all you fellow birders out there: 

"Birding for Everyone: Encouraging People of Color to Become Birdwatchers" by John C. Robinson