Bella holds a sign hitting the high points of The Black Joy Tour's message. 

Summer Reyes, holding a sign reading “I’m Your Neighbor,” waved to supporters as they honked driving into Keizer Station Saturday, Aug. 29. 

She was joined by about 20 others who stood holding signs and waving to drivers as part of The Black Joy Tour, an effort to put the spotlight on the ways people of color contribute to their communities. Reyes is friends with some of the organizers and asked them to stop in Keizer on the way to eastern Oregon. 

“It's not easy being a woman of color in Keizer, so I asked them to come,” Reyes said. “I love it here, right down to its core values of volunteerism but, I gotta tell you, this past year has made me want to leave.”

For many, everyday activities have been re-contextualized in the wake of civil unrest and protests sparks by the deaths of black men and women at the hands of law enforcement officers in other areas. For Reyes, it’s meant taking greater notice of how others react to the color of her skin. 

“When I’m with my neighbors, everyone is great but, when I’m walking my dog alone, people rev their engines as they go by or circle back to look at me,” she said. “It feels like they are doing these things to intimidate me with their trucks and it definitely feels different than before.”

In addition to highlighting contributions by people of color, The Black Joy Tour hopes to spark solidarity among minority residents in communities where they feel less visible. By visiting cities without organized movements, Black Joy’s members hope their visit emboldens local activism by showing strength in numbers, said organizer Amanda Clark. 

“What we want to do is offset some of the negative images that you see in the media,” Clark said.

Claire Snyder (right) flashes the peace sign to passing drivers in Keizer as part of The Black Joy Tour. “I think it builds our communities to be stronger and more compassionate and more loving as well,” Snyder said. 

Clark and other participants planned to visit Pendleton Saturday afternoon and make several additional stops on a three-day trip back to the Salem area. 

“What's great about this tour is that we're going to these little places that you  wouldn't necessarily think have vibrant communities of color,” said Claire Snyder, a McNary graduate who planned on making the trip to Pendleton and back. 

Snyder said the past few months and years watching race, again, take the center stage in American discourse were difficult. 

“I felt very isolated from Black culture growing up in Keizer and I was never encouraged to be proud of who I am as a Black woman,” she said. “I was one of few kids of color at our school and never felt comfortable in my own skin. And this whole thing has made me realize I can be proud of that and I can celebrate that.”

The Black Joy Tour offered a path to a more active role in what she saw unfolding around the nation and in a nonviolent, uplifting way. Salem resident Julianne Jackson is the founder of the tour and was visiting Washington D.C. to take part in National Awareness Network march last weekend. Snyder said Jackson, and her connection to the local community, is what inspired her to get involved. 

“To see women of color standing in solidarity with each other, lifting each other up, trying to bring our voices to the forefront, that means a lot. I think it builds our communities to be stronger and more compassionate and more loving as well,” Snyder said. 

Elliott Fullmer-Eiffler brought a sign and a bubble shooter to show her support.