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Book Launch! Kleaver Cruz — “The Black Joy Project” (w/ Marlana Adele Vasser & Bradley Hill)

February 1 @ 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm

We are thrilled to have Kleaver Cruz in-store again, this time for to launch the book that grew out of their continued activism, The Black Joy Project. They are joined in conversation by fellow artistsm and creatives, Marlana Adele Vassar and Bradley Hill.

Featuring 117 full-color photos and eight breathtaking essays on a force that fuels Black life all around the globe, this is Humans of New York meets The Black Book

“A patchwork quilt of visually stunning images, captured moments of triumph, antidotes to trauma narratives and rich, ebullient emotional and verbal spice for the soul.” – Michael W. Twitty, culinary and cultural historian, and author of The Cooking Gene and Koshersoul

“In literature, there are some books that transcend mere pages and ink, becoming essential pieces of cultural expression. One such book poised to make its mark is The Black Joy Project…. This ambitious work breaks new ground.” – Essence

Black Joy is everywhere. From the bustling streets of Lagos to hip-hop blasting through apartment windows in the Bronx. From the wide-open coastal desert of Namibia to the lush slopes of Jamaica’s Blue Mountains. From the thriving tradition of Candomblé in Bahia to the innovative and trendsetting styles of Soweto, and beyond, Black Joy is present in every place where Black people exist. Now—at last—is a one-of-a-kind celebration of this truth and a life-giving testament to one of the most essential forces that fuels Black life: The Black Joy Project.

International in the scale, fist-raising in the prose, and chockfull of gorgeous works by dozens of acclaimed artists, The Black Joy Project does what no other book has ever done. In words and art, it puts joy on the same track as protest and resistance… because that is how life is actually lived. Uprisings in the street, with music as accompaniment. Heartbreaking funerals followed by second line parades. Microaggressions in the office, then coming home to a warm hug and a garden of lilacs. The list goes on.

Black Joy is always held in tension with broader systemic wounds. It is a powerful, historically important salve that allows us to keep going and reimagine new ways of being. The Black Joy Project captures these dual realities to incredible, unforgettable effect.

The brainchild of educator and activist Kleaver Cruz, The Black Joy Project is an extension of a real-world initiative of the same name. It has become a source of healing and regeneration for Black people of all backgrounds and identities. Long overdue and still worth the wait, The Black Joy Project is a necessary addition for any book lover, art enthusiast, or freedom fighter. And begs the question, What does Black Joy mean to you?

KLEAVER CRUZ (they/them) is a Black, queer, Dominican-American writer and educator from New York City. Cruz is the creator of The Black Joy Project, a digital and real-world affirmation that Black Joy is resistance. The Black Joy Project has been featured in British Vogue, Vibe.com, the Huffington Post, and various other publications in print and online. Cruz is 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 an alum of the Voices of Our Nations Arts (VONA) Foundation’s Emerging Writers Non-Fiction Workshop and the Kenyon Review Writers Fiction Workshop.

MARLANA ADELE VASSAR is a Pittsburgh artist who is largely self-taught. With an art practice that centers around the idea that “art is everywhere,” Vassar’s philosophy of balancing style and substance has attracted a diverse audience to her work. She weaves symbolism, surrealism and rich storytelling into figures and patterns, resulting in works that are personal yet open to interpretation. Her art has been featured nationwide in museums, galleries, and public projects, including the Carnegie Museum of Art, The August Wilson Center for African American Culture, and The Urban Institute of Contemporary Art. Her most recent public projects include commissions with the City of Pittsburgh, the University of Pittsburgh, and the City Theatre Company, along with many notable art projects and additions to private collections.

BRADLEY HILL (he/they) is a Pittsburgh native, and has been active in the arts scene as an arts access advocate, while also working as a creative director, moderator/host, set and clothing stylist, and model. Bradley received his BA in Communications from Edinboro University in 2016. He centers his creative endeavors on body positivity, men’s mental health awareness (with an emphasis on Black men and their relationship with mental health), and advocating and empowering youth in marginalized communities (specifically Black youth to invest in the future of the Black community). Bradley has directed photoshoots and videos for local artists and he is a host in residence at the MuseumLab in connection to the Children Museum of Pittsburgh. Bradley’s continued purpose is creating space for black and brown people, especially those in the queer community.


This event will be in-person at White Whale Bookstore. Masks are required. If you are not able to make it to the store, we will also be livestreaming the event via Zoom: https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZAvfuurrjMpGtYPl01maDZGiVIRtIEkHYeC#/

Head to our website to order the book: https://www.whitewhalebookstore.com/events/20240201

And browse many other titles, including all our books for upcoming events: https://www.whitewhalebookstore.com/lists/LV5JV1l3fXRQ

For general questions, check out our FAQ: https://www.whitewhalebookstore.com/events/event-faqs

Our events are first-come, first-seated. If you need to reserve an accessible seat in advance or have any other questions, please email us at events@whitewhalebookstore.com.

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February 1
7:00 pm - 9:00 pm


White Whale Books & Coffee
4754 Liberty Avenue
Pittsburgh,PA15224United States
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(412) 224-2847
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White Whale Bookstore
(412) 224-2847
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