Kleaver Cruz is on a mission to fill social media with as many uplifting images of black people as possible.
Cruz, a 27-year-old New York-based writer and organizer, started The Black Joy Project after he realized that personal matters and the taxing fight to affirm black lives and protest systemic racism had started to take a toll on him. He decided to combat the negativity by posting an image of his grinning mother on Facebook.
“I thought posting a picture on Facebook of my mom beaming, her smile in front of a piece of art she loved, would help me work through the darkness I was fully present to,” Cruz said in a video for HuffPost Rise. “And perhaps offer other black folks in my digital and real world communities some reprieve as well.”
Cruz began an Instagram page to share more expressions of happiness and images of smiling black faces. He also encouraged others to use the hashtags #BlackJoy and #TheBlackJoyProject to highlight their own depictions of genuine, unbridled delight.
“#TheBlackJoyProject is an intentional corner of the Internet that offers smiles and a source of happiness for black people anywhere, and everywhere,” Cruz told HuffPost. “Black Joy is one of the entities that has gotten us through the many trials and tribulations of our existence around the world.”
Cruz has highlighted countless young and old black faces from various walks of life, and accompanied each image with inspiring words.