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West Dayton Stories is a community-based story-telling project centered on the people and places of Dayton’s vibrant west side. WYSO brings together community producers to tell stories reflecting its proud history, current complexities, and future hopes.

West Dayton Stories: A Testimony Of Black Joy

Love'Yah Stewart

In this week's edition of West Dayton Stories community producer Jaylon Yates uses lyrical language and poetic imagery to express his take on Black Joy.

Black... Of the darkest colors owing to absence of or complete absorption of light.

Absence... Some say blacks are absent time, knowledge, or even joy. Absent of opportunity, because he’s the darkest. “Sir you must work the hardest because you’re the darkest.” They simply lack because they’re associated with black. If a tree falls in a forest and no is around to hear, does it make a sound?

Joy... A feeling of great pleasure and happiness. Somewhere in that same forest you’ll find joy. That same place no one wants to go, there's unconditional love. Smiles of a sun being, where the sun comes and never leaves. Complete absorption of light, a body fit enough to do the earth’s bidding; for the world may not have known light if it wasn't for darkness.

Some cultures never get to experience this level of compassion. Fathers took chances going to predominantly white spaces, deep in the south to speak their truths for the future of my generation. Mothers have gone above and beyond to support and nurture families, paving a way when there wasn’t one. Children forced to drop out as low as third grade to help their parents sharecrop. A people who’ve come so far with so little to work with, all in love for children of the future like myself. This type of love doesn’t just come around every day, you’ll have to wear this skin to understand how much of a privilege and honor it is, this Black Joy.

As a testament to my ancestors, we’ve only seen the tip of the ice-berg but we’ve accomplished so much. Every push for greatness has led us to this moment today and I thank you for your self-love, and dedication to the children of the future; may I have the will to do the same.

West Dayton Stories is produced by Jocelyn Robinson at the Eichelberger Center for Community Voices and is supported by CityWide Development Corporation.

Jaylon Yates, AKA Smb Jay is a Dayton, Ohio native who introduced himself to the music world with his first mixtape Tune Into Greatness, featuring songs like Paradise, Too Major, and Alize’. Jay got into music after observing his older family member Trailz, also a hip-hop artist. In December of 2016 Jay started his own record label Selfmade Boss Records LLC (SMB), and he later added the acronyms to his stage name.
Jocelyn Robinson is a Yellow Springs, Ohio-based educator, media producer, and radio preservationist. As an educator, Robinson has taught transdisciplinary literature courses incorporating critical cultural theory and her scholarship in self-definition and identity. She also teaches community-based and college-level classes in digital storytelling and narrative journalism.