Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Books & Media announced today it will publish The Black Joy Project by Kleaver Cruz, a book that presents Black joy as a source of healing, resistance and regeneration.
For the past five years, NYC local Cruz has traveled throughout the United States and to countries including South Africa, The Netherlands and Brazil to be in community with and ask people across the African diaspora, “What does Black joy mean to you?” The answer was affirming: Black joy is used as a way to fight oppression.
“There is a necessity in expressing and naming Black joy as a practice towards liberation and I want it for all Black people around the world,” Cruz said.
Out of a need for community and support with healing, Cruz created The Black Joy Project, a digital and real-world movement to center Black joy as resistance. Cruz’s work has been featured in British Vogue, Vibe.com and the Huffington Post, among others.
The book will share Cruz’s necessary, perspective-shifting work in the form of a beautiful love letter to Black joy via powerful essays and stunning images that promote the multitude of ways Black communities fight suffering and persecution and (re)imagine ways of being.
After seeing many submissions drawing from the same well of anguish, HMH Books & Media senior editor Rakia Clark tweeted out a query looking for a book to address this subject. Cruz saw the tweet and reached out to Clark. They spoke days later. She wound up acquiring World rights to The Black Joy Project from Marya Spence at Janklow & Nesbit, who represented Cruz.
“I’m excited both to focus on joy as an ever-present but under-acknowledged force in the struggle for social justice and to help shepherd a necessary addition into the current canon of books on race,” Clark said. "I believe strongly that a book like this needs to co-exist alongside all the others that are on the horizon dissecting 'the current moment.' What I love about The Black Joy Project is that it doesn’t shy away from any activist movements or from difficult conversations; it offers another way to access them. It shows activism as more than suffering."
KLEAVER CRUZ is a Black, queer, Dominican-American creative, writer, and educator from Uptown, NYC. Cruz’s work has been featured in various publications in print and online. Cruz is the creator of The Black Joy Project, a digital and real-world affirmation that Black joy is resistance. Cruz is also a member of We Are All Dominican, a U.S.-based, grassroots collective that works in solidarity with movements led by Dominicans of Haitian descent fighting for inclusion and citizenship rights in the Dominican Republic. Cruz is also one half of the poetic duo, The Delta, which has performed at The Nuyorican Poet’s Café and the Bowery Poetry Club. Cruz is an alum of the VONA/Voices of Our Nation Foundation's Emerging Writer's Non-Fiction and the Kenyan Review Writers Fiction Workshop.
Author photo credit: Stefen Pompée
Illustration photo credit: Kleaver Cruz
Contact: Lori Glazer
SVP, Executive Director of Publicity
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt