Date of Award

Spring 2023

Document Type

Restricted Thesis

Terms of Use

© 2023 Zakiyyah Jones. All rights reserved. Access to this work is restricted to users within the Swarthmore College network and may only be used for non-commercial, educational, and research purposes. Sharing with users outside of the Swarthmore College network is expressly prohibited. For all other uses, including reproduction and distribution, please contact the copyright holder.

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Sociology & Anthropology Department

First Advisor

Maya Nadkarni


The racialization of joy is (1) the practice of connecting one’s own experience of joy to their racial and ethnic identity (2) recognition of the historical implication of race-making and identities linked to the emotion of joy (3) a particular type of racialized emotions (Bonilla Silva 2019) (Kim 2016) that focuses on joy. I argue that the racialization of joy for Black folks is not a one-size-fits-all and has to be situated in the contextual histories that the participants are a part of. Through the comparison of Ghanaian and Black American university students' understandings of joy, we can see that the racialization of joy is more pertinent when race is asserted as a master category. Therefore, Black American university students consider the racialization of joy more relevant to their lives than Ghanaian university students. This is because the racialized history and heterogenous racial demographic in the United States makes Black American university students perceive their race as a significant part of their daily lives. In contrast, the racialized history and homogenous racial demographic in Ghana makes Ghanaian university students perceive race as insignificant in their day to day and they experience racialization as a large-scale global process. Despite this difference, analyzing the racialization of joy between Black American and Ghanaian students is still valuable, as we can have diasporic conversations about race, joy, and resistance.