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Yo, life is hard — even more so than usual right now. As Black people, we’re out here trying not to catch COVID-19, struggling to understand why folks don’t care enough about other people to wear masks, protesting for our lives, fighting to defund the police and praying we don’t get killed by them in the meantime. Not to mention our individual struggles.

In times like this, joy is hard to recall, let alone, seek out joy. But I’m reminded that joy is also a form of resistance. I’ve been finding joy in dope music and beautifully written books. Below are five pieces of joy I would like to share with you:

1. “EAT” by Tobe Nwigwe

The pure joy that this song sparks is crazy. If you’ve been following Tobe’s music, you know that his track record is impeccable. Every song is absolutely worth listening to. But something about the song “EAT,” that Tobe recently dropped, hits in the most nostalgic and hopeful way.

If you like rap music, you’ll appreciate the dope lyrics and the way Tobe and Fat ride the beat in this song. If you’re Nigerian, you can’t help but get excited when you hear the smooth way Tobe weaves Igbo phrases into the music. When you hear Fat come in with, “hit the ground running like a half back,” you can’t help but yell, “aye!”

Fat’s verse, alone, is a whole mood. Then Tobe comes in with another verse that will take you right back to the middle school cafeteria, reminding you of every time someone made a beat on the lunch table and started freestyling. There’s a unique joy that’s spurred in that moment.

This song is just what we all need right now. Do yourself a favor and put this song in rotation. If you want the full experience, watch the video while you listen! We need all the smiles we can get these days.

2. ‘American Spy’ by Lauren Wilkinson

“Although I’ve left you some money, that isn’t a signal that I hope you’ll spend your lives in pursuit of more of it. I want to give you power and agency, of which you’ll have dangerously little without money. But for you, for black American boys, the middle class can’t help guarantee your safety. Maybe you’ll help change things.”

This is just one of the powerful quotes from American Spy. It’s hard to believe that this is Lauren’s debut novel.

We could all use an escape from our current reality right now. This book offers just that. Do yourself a favor and check it out. You won’t regret it.

3. “So in Love” by PJ Morton

This song is simply perfection. The whole album is beautifully woven together, but this particular song instantly puts a smile on your face and joy in your heart. The music is giving delightful island vibes that transport you to the beach, if only for three and a half minutes. And the lyrics — they are equally as beautiful. It’s such a needed reminder of the grace of God, and what better time to reflect on His goodness.

This is a song you’ll definitely want on repeat, especially between all those zoom meetings during the week that make you wish you were just about anyplace else.

4. ‘Piecing Me Together’ by Renee Watson

“When I learned the Spanish word for succeed, I thought it was kind of ironic that the word exit is embedded in it. Like the universe was telling me that in order for me to make something of this life, I’d have to leave home, my neighborhood, my friends.”

This book is the story of a young girl, Jade, who is growing tired of being seen as someone who needs support when she knows she has so much to offer the world.

If you love YA books, you need to grab this book immediately. If you don’t love to read YA books, buy it anyway and give it to a young adult in your life. It’s so easy to read yet so layered.

5. “Actions” by John Legend

What a creative mixture of new and old we find in this song! John Legend sampled “The Next Episode” by Dr. Dre, and made it a beautiful love song — all while reminding us that actions speak louder than love songs. Of course he’s talking about romantic relationships, but I think it’s also an excellent reminder that actions in all relationships speak louder than words. You definitely want this song on your next playlist.