Reclaiming Radical Joy: #YouDeserve Your Most Liberated Self

By Chelcee Loraine. Photography by Deun Ivory.

The old folks used to say, “this joy that I have the world didn’t give it and the world can’t take it away.”

And truth is, the world does try. Especially the world we live in when climate change, immigration, and violence against black and brown bodies particularly black trans women are on the rise. Sometimes, I really feel Solange’s “I got a lot to be mad about” resonates all too deeply.

Reclaiming Radical Joy, our BGIO theme this month, is not about turning an eye to the issues that may sometimes deplete our joy. It’s about having joy anyhow. Joy is a frequency, is a feeling, is a statement, and it’s something we harness for ourselves and something we must keep despite ourselves, and this world. Joy too is resistance. Joy is Pride, which we’ll also be celebrating all month. Joy is our soul’s most dynamic resting place.

Why “radical” joy? Because, we need it. Think of radical joy as your declaration. There’s a Warsan Shire quote I came by years ago and that tends to this way of being:

“Document the moments you feel most in love with yourself - what you’re wearing, who you’re around, what you’re doing. Recreate and repeat.”

I believe this is the space that joy resonates in its most radical form, when you are your most authentic reflection in the world. Simply put, when you are your freest self.

But, how do we get there? It’s a journey, one we’re focused on all month. It’s an interrogation to how we, how you, are currently living your life and the vision that you have for it. Be it simply repainting a wall a color that makes you smile. Or, remodeling from the inside out. We can often feel the areas in our lives that do not reflect liberation, that do not make us feel free or joyous. It’s often a little tug internally, a forlorn relationship, a job not tied as intrinsically to our purpose, maybe even a state of mind and negative self-talk to move through.

 Consider taking some time to not only document the moments you feel most in love with yourself… but, also the moments you don’t. The spaces in your life that may need pruning. The people in your life that may need distancing. The patterns in your life that may need pausing. With joy in mind, with living most authentically in mind. Sometimes the journey to joy is one with hills and valleys. A journey that invites in therapy, the unpacking of pain points, sitting with oneself in the mirror. But it’s a journey that is always, all ways worth it.

Archival photography by Brono Barbey (1980, Rio de Janeiro Brazil)

Archival photography by Brono Barbey (1980, Rio de Janeiro Brazil)

What brings you radical joy? What places in your life are depleting you of joy? Where did you leave your joy last? Go get it. Document the moments. And, it’s a lot simpler than we sometimes make it. It’s not in the attaining of more, although those things may be helpful; they are superficial. Joy is connected to gratitude in the now.

Radical joy, is an anyhow kind of joy. Radical joy is that even in the midst of the rain, I will become the thunder. Become a beautiful quickening that feels, that fills, both the heavens and the earth; that fills myself. Because, reclaiming radical joy is also a reclamation of self-hood.

So, this joy that I have, this identity that I have, this love, this queerness, this otherness, this revolution in me, this purpose, this ancestral biding, this freedom, this joy, this joy. The world ain’t give it and the world can’t take it away.

You are deserving of unadulterated, unfiltered, unmasked, pure, loud self love.

You are deserving of solitude, your own space and time, unabashed by the away moments yearned for.

You are deserving of pleasure and indulgence in whatever form they take.  

You are deserving of sisterhood, and twerk teams and prayer circles.

You are deserving of you, at your highest, most joyous self.

Reclaim Radical Joy this season.

Sis, you deserve.


We’d love to hear your pitches on how you Reclaim Radical Joy. What mental health and/or soul practices bring you joy? Have you made a recent diet change – become vegan? And found more joy in your body? How do we redecorate and cleanse our spaces to emote more joy? Where do we cultivate genuine sisterhood? Where does rest fit in your journey to joy? What about spirituality? Send your pitches or a 600-850 word piece to

Chelcee Loraine is a publishing professional, Detroit native, editor, and word & world-loving soul. Based in Harem, her passion for the power of the written word & highlighting often policed narratives has led her to work in publishing for the past decade with organizations such as Simon & Schuster, Moguldom Media Group, Serendipity Literary Agency, the New York Times and writing for the likes of Ebony. In a rupturing political climate and blooming social change, BGIO is the place Chelc is able to create a community of safe space in our collective stories as Publication Editor. She is empowered by the (inner)work! With that said, her self-care go to is journaling, prayer and meditation.