‘We Are Joy’ Photo Collection Highlights The Beauty of Being Black

we are joy portraitsPhotographer Laurent Chevalier is seeking to shine a light on positive black experiences in her new photo series “We Are Joy.”

The portrait series consists of pictures of black millennials who were asked to tell a story about how being black positively impacted their lives. “I was intrigued by the idea of black joy in story form, because when someone tells a story you relate to, you can’t help but be impacted by it,” Chevalier explained to Huffington Post.

She continued, “Black joy is contagious, especially when you can relate to it. Then adding to that our culture of oral history, I thought it would be a great way to present this idea.”

It's day 4 of #WeAreJoy, a special day because today's post is also Bae . Check out her black joy memory: “I think a lot of it has to do with family. One of my earliest memories was when I went to Haiti, and meeting a lot of my family members for the first time. I have a lot of memories from that, and I think I was 3 at the time. Which crazy to have that memory engrained in my mind. I have [the memory of] visiting my cousins, and my aunt who passed away last year. Of being at her and her husband’s corner-store, and being at the well and seeing all these Haitian kids come and pump water. And I remember thinking “oh my god I would never be able to do that”. Just kind of basking in the experience, like that real Haitian experience. I was just in awe. Watching these kids pump water in the well, take the bucket, and put it on their head. And they were small kids like me. Since my aunt passed away, I connect that memory specifically to that. Because she died recently, I think about her being in my life, and a-lot of those memories that I have of her were when I visited Haiti and being at her shop and being with them. “ Maureen Saturne #thebottomlesseye

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Read more about the project according to Laurent’s site, Chevalier Creative:

In America, Blackness is a burden. It is a historical weight that seems to reinvent itself at every turn. This burden is laid on our people by ignorance or maliciousness, and with this often comes negative associations with Blackness. However, this weight, and this pressure has galvanized a culture. It has given a group of people with varying interests and ideas a common tie connecting them all. There are beautiful shared experiences in which the root of the beauty in that moment is Blackness. There are moments that can only truly be appreciated through the lens of that culture. This February, we celebrate those moments by sharing images each day of the month, from “We Are Joy”. “We Are Joy” is a portrait series utilizing the power of storytelling to share memories of the beauty of black lives, and to create imagery indicative of that beauty.

#WeAreJoy is also Black Love. Hear Michael Warren share what that means via @okayplayer – "I think I would say its when I got married. I think I have a core belief that the person you marry has already been a part of you. And when you find them you recognize that person that was a part of you already. So when I found my wife I found in her, family, I found in her, love. So when we got married I was able to feel complete in a sense. I guess that doesn’t cannibalize love toward one that is your same race, but for me personally, finding her I was really able to recognize the family in her, and want to build that with her. Then that becomes a true part of my identity as a man because I got married when I was 25. That was before I got really into the professional word. So now as we both navigate the professional world being young African Americans, we represent each other in every way and in every situation that we are in. So when we are together and strong, that’s a reflection of that joy that we have that we’ve created for ourselves despite the color of our skin.“ Michael Warren #thebottomlesseye

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#WeAreJoy is popping almost as much as the hair of today's subject @shanikahillocks Check out the black joy story of this foodie – "A pivotal moment for me and a true expression of black joy, was probably
when I big chopped my hair actually. So I've grown up in a lot of suburb communities throughout my life. I've always sort of been the token black girl
to say the least. So coming to NY I was exposed to a lot of cultures, and true
exposure of black culture living in Harlem. Tons of beautiful women with natural hair, and I'd been going back and forth in my mind with whether or
not I wanted to do it. And finally I was like alright, I'm going to take the jump
and this would be it. So I big chopped my hair, and it definitely was
liberating, and I just started feeling even more confident in myself. I don't identify as someone who is lacking in self esteem, but I think the increase in
self esteem in my beauty and understanding and getting comfortable with this texture that I was born with and embracing it to the fullest is definitely
something that did give me personal joy. In the same breath, I just was lifted up by other people who saw that beauty. For me that was something, that as a young black woman in a society that is always showcasing a beauty that doesn't look like yours, was quite important." Shanika Hillocks #thebottomlesseye

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Check out the rest of the photo series at Chevalier Creative.