When did “Black Love” become a thing? What do I mean by that? Well, something that has to be qualified. For as long as I can remember, I’ve been taught about love. Just…love. Not Black love. Just…love.
Let’s think about this. For anyone who was reared in a community with most people having the same skin color, their way of life was their norm. It is not until you leave “your norm” that you learn there is an alternative and start to assimilate to a new way of life. Think back to your childhood. Did you believe that everyone lived the same way as you? I certainly did. I lived in a home with both of my parents for my entire childhood, so I just assumed that the parents of my friends lived at their home, too, until they told me otherwise. Our perception is our reality. I grew up in a neighborhood. Yet, while attending a predominately White college my “regular” neighborhood reference to it changed to a community. Not just a community but “a Black community.”
Love is an Action Word
My first teachers, my Black American parents, taught me what love is by their actions towards each other and their three children each and every day. Their selflessness was, and continues to be, undeniable. To me, the sacrifices that they have made to provide for their family were clear signs of love. There was a time when my father worked two consecutive shifts that caused him to be out of the house when my sister, my brother, and I were getting ready to leave home each morning to walk to school as well as when we went to sleep each night. However, I vividly remember my dad coming home each evening during his lunch break on his second shift so that we could eat dinner together as a family.
That is just one of many examples of love that I’ve experienced. Being present; yes, my Dad always showed up. However, is that an example of Black love or just love? My parents have been married for 55 years. I still see and feel their love. I don’t reference their Black love, just their love. To this day, they go almost everywhere together whether driving in style or walking and holding each other’s hand. The example for me, we are in this together.
More Examples of Black Love
Each week, our family still sits at their dinner table to enjoy great food and conversation. The example, here, take time to slow down and appreciate our blessings. My parents always made sure there was plenty of food in case someone just came for a meal. The example, love our neighbors. We eagerly waited to hear one of the many stories of our childhood exploits, lessons they learned with their siblings from their parents, how they first met, or their brave activism during the Civil Rights movement, to name a few. The examples, here, the importance of family, how to treat those we love, how to love yourself so you can show love to others and make a positive difference in someone’s life.
I remember when my parents taught me how to hold my newborn siblings. The tenderness of their touch and softness of their voice as they showed me how to cradle them with care and be their big sister still warms my heart. I learned about love for my family and not specifically for my Black family.
Other love lessons came as I learned to love the person that I am (in all of my stages). Not the unhealthy narcissistic kind of love. Loving the inquisitive youngster, the awkward pre-teen, the studious teenager, the introverted young adult, and the ever-evolving adult. I learned to love the deity who I was taught and, firmly believe, created me–agape love. I learned how to be a sincere friend, love a mate, accept love, and, more importantly, how to recognize when someone did not demonstrate love towards me. From caregivers, to peers, to romantic partners, love through human bonding is significant.
What is Black Love, Really?
Black Love is a docuseries aired in 2017 and co-created by married Black filmmakers Codie Elaine Oliver and Tommie Oliver. It is also the name of their company, Black Love Inc.
So, what is this Black love? According to the Urban Dictionary, black love is “a spiritual journey that only people who are rich in melanin can experience. A love that is unconditional. A love that can build an empire. Monogamous and genuine in intent, this love cannot be stopped.”
Black love can mean many different things to many different people. Today’s scholastic dictionaries do not even describe it.
Is the label of Black love for Black Americans or African Americans or people of African descent? (There is still disagreement on how to describe nonwhite people of Black descent. Please do not take offense.) Maybe the label, Black love, is not for Black Americans at all, but for everyone else.
Black Love, A Movement
For centuries, the horrific tales of the mistreatment of generations of Black people were told, including of how they were stolen from their native lands, forced to work on the property of their slave owners, beaten down, hung up on trees, and sexually assaulted. The story of Black people is one of survival, resilience, strength, growth, and rebirth. Despite everything that was done to destroy the Black race, they did not give up. Their determination for a better life for their children; sheer will to withstand the torture of their tormentors; and love of self, freedom, and legacy enabled those Black Americans who survived to rise up.
The story of Black people is the story of a movement. There is power in the movement. Yet, the struggle of the movement is fueled by determination and love.
Why Black love? There is power in Black love. Why Black love? There is survival in Black love.
Black love is more than just “a thing.” It continues to shape a culture. This love, Black love, surrounds me and flows through me. I am Black love. Who are you?