“What is the true determinant of joy.” Ama Akoto. (2021).

March 30, 2021

What is the true determinant of joy?

Is it never having to argue my existence, ever-safe in the knowledge that I am human, worthy
and deserving of all good things? I could save my words for wonderful things; shared secrets
between sisters, songs in languages I don’t know, cries of unbridled pleasure. I would be free of
sorrys, maybes and ifs, my tongue becoming a silver, pointed thing capable only of commands
and reciprocated I love yous.

What are the markers of happiness when one is constantly situated between misogyny and
racism, sitting sideways in a body meant to walk upright?

Is it vengeance? Bittersweet violence and nights spent bathing in the blood of our enemies
come easily to girls swallowed by their demons, so freedom feels like cleansing with fire and
rising from the ashes. In the aftermath, we grow medicine trees and clay homes out of our
long-awaited rightful revenge. We stand up straight, rejoice in our old bones and worn muscles,
our only true forms of inheritance.

Freedom is slow fingers and hot oil in my hair because I have no job, no master, no oppression
— simply time to tend to myself as a Black woman should: carefully, leisurely, with love and

If life is a quest and the goal is to be free, what does it mean to be truly liberated?
All days become holy days. Alter workers dress in their best whites, draw circles of powder
around their stools, and stir their pots. There is time, dedicated time, to talk to our ancestors. To
become them. Again and again. We become unafraid. We remain relentless, standing in
righteous truth because it is ours and the only true form of ownership.