Oakland artists Stunna Dess (left in white) and Empress Freedom (middle in black) dance with Owen Skeete (right in grey) during the Black Joy Parade on Sunday. (Photo by shaylyn martos / Golden Gate Xpress)
Story written for SF State's Golden Gate Xpress
“Black joy means to me resistance, reclaiming. It means unity; it means heartfelt connections. And it means home.”
In Oakland’s third annual Black Joy Parade, more than 20,000 people gathered in celebration of Black history, culture and future.
Oakland native, business owner, artist and stylist Toshia Christal came to the parade to promote her first curated show “Unbound Roots” which opens at Soma Arts in San Francisco on March 12.
“The curation has been a nice experience where I’ve learned all the inner workings and all the things that it takes to put on the actual show,” she said. “The importance of having events like this, to me, is really just making space and taking time for folks to get together and network.”
Oakland Originalz breaker and SF State student Tadhg Rush slides across the group’s mat on his forearms during the Black Joy Parade in Oakland. Rush studies kinesiology at SF State. (Photo by shaylyn martos / Golden Gate Xpress)
Co-founder of the breaking group Oakland Originalz, Gideon Chiwinke Mekwunye II, was born and raised in Oakland. He and his breaking crew represent Oakland culture around the world.
“So when you break, you emulate your environment,” he said. “I feel like when you’re Black you can be really bitter. So there’s one thing to let it go but there’s also another thing to let it grow.”
Oakland Originalz focuses on creating very positive performances that challenge the common culture of breaking. As they spun through the air and contorted their bodies, they called for the audience to stay in school and appreciate the people around them.
Co-founder of the breaking group Oakland Originalz, Gideon Chiwinke Mekwunye II, hands a $20 bill to J.R., an audience participant who proved he can keep up with the breaker’s moves during the Black Joy Parade. (Photo by shaylyn martos / Golden Gate Xpress)
Mascot for the Hundreds Unit Rochelle Westbrook led the women’s dance group in a beautiful home-made peacock costume, which took a full 10 hours to create. (Photo by shaylyn martos / Golden Gate Xpress)