Spotlight: Black History Month, Cassie Torrisi Interviews Joy Sellers

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Today’s spotlight features Joy Sellers. Joy is a sister, a wife, a mother, a grandmother, and a true woman of faith. She has worked for Honeywell for thirty-five years and has also owned her own catering business for thirteen years in Freeport. She now works at the Boys and Girls Club while also pursuing a new business of making crafts, shoe bags, lotions, and more. You name it and I am sure Joy could make it! 

When I asked Joy what Black History Month means to her, she said, “It means A LOT. It means celebrating the past, but also celebrating the doors it has opened. It means reflecting on how strong our ancestors really were to stand up for what they believed in.” One thing that Joy mentioned that really stuck out to me was, “Black History Month is only a month, yes, but we have the full year to live and celebrate it, February is just a kickstart for what is to come.” Joy reflected on some of the stories her grandmother would share about how tough it is to be a Black. “It’s constantly keeping your nose to the grindstone,” Joy remarked. She shared that her grandma instilled amazing family values that she hopes her family can continue for generations to come.

I asked Joy what she wishes those who are not Black Americans better understood She said, “First and foremost, we want the same things for our lives and our children that you do.” She also posed a question that few can answer, “How do you dislike someone purely based on the color of their skin. What if the roles were reversed? What if you couldn’t get a job that you were qualified for because your skin color was different. Why does the color of my skin bring some so much anger?” Joy explained that she really wished myths and stereotypes would end; she does not understand the negative stereotypes nor why they are still perpetuated. “Why do you have to look at my skin in a store and think I’m going to steal,” she questioned. Joy commented that she does not understand why one negative situation has to impact everyone. For instance, Joy mentioned that she still gets together with her ex-husband’s family; they can all come together and move forward from a situation, as one situation should not impact everyone. I feel as though this is really important in many aspects; how does a negative situation that one may have encountered get to depict a whole group of people.

Joy says that the steps we need to take to get closer to equality for all are “to just please stop the hate, LET GO OF EVIL AND JUST SHOW SOME LOVE!” Joy mentions how hard it is to hate, she asks, “Do you know how much energy it takes to hate someone, do you know how much more energy it takes to teach someone else to hate someone?” She is exactly right; Joy says she just wants the same opportunities that those around her have. “Give me the same door and the same knob to show you what I can do,” she remarked.

I realize sometimes these conversations can be tough to have, it’s hard to hear some of the things and experiences Black Americans have faced, but we have to keep talking. My conversation with Joy brought me so much knowledge; she filled my heart with so much hope and so much love. Joy is a woman we can all learn from, her words and wisdom are something I will treasure forever. Thank you Joy for sharing your story, I cannot wait to see the impact your words will carry.