What Black Love is

What exactly is Black Love? -@CoachGSeatbelt

While he is probably not the first person to ask this question, it helped to start some discussions that had me write this post.

Me: Why are you asking?

CGS: Because it seems like the term is used to hide underlying racism. It’s not about being Pro-Black..that’s a cultural and social stance. Black Love is a preference.  How is it any stronger or deeper or more real than “regular” love? Who puts a color on that?

Let me start by saying love itself is colorless. In my mind you don’t get to choose who you love, but you do get some choice in who you allow yourself to develop a relationship with…which is a conversation in itself. Neither I nor anyone else should value your love any more or less because of who you came to fall in love with and who came to fall in love with you.  Love is beautiful and should be revered and cherished whenever it is cultivated.

When I think of Black Love I think of so much more than a relationship between two people. I think back to times when people were property, to be bought and sold on the whims of a “master”. During those times “black” marriage  meant nothing, as a man could be separated from his wife and his children to never seen them again. A woman could be bedded at the discretion of her owner, whether she was married (or willing) or not and had no recourse for such actions.  I think of the children who had no choice but to watch and learn these lesson, and the conscious and subconscious messages they must have received about what it meant to be in a relationship.

While I certainly didn’t live through any of those lessons, I know that they existed. I see them in the books, songs, and plays about the “never do right” man;  the man who woke up one day to go get cigarettes and never came back. I see them in stories that were written about men who had other families “on the other side of the track”. I see them in songs like “Papa Was a Rolling Stone“.   I think of movies like Carmen Jones, who showed how love can go awry.

I also think of the children who watched families get separated by violence. I think of men like Medgar Evers, Malcolm X, and Martin Luther King, Jr., men who who were taken away from their families because of hatred and fear. I think of the countless men and women whose names I don’t know and whose stories aren’t largely told who were taken away from their families because of the same thing. I think of people who were executed by lynchings and shootings, and fires, and the like, whose children or cousins or nieces and nephews learned hard lessons about how little those lives, including how their losses would affect their loved ones, were valued. I think about people who did not have public and widespread outpourings of sympathy, how the way they processed that loss might affected how they loved and how they taught their children about love.

As an example of some of those lessons, I think about the people I know who have told me that their parents never told them they loved them. About women who tell their daughters that men are “only good for one thing”. About men who teach their sons to “love them and leave them”.  I listen to those lessons in some of the lyrics of the raps songs I hear, misogynistic messages that mothers and fathers don’t realize are getting ingrained in their children’s minds with every repetition.

I daresay that these lessons are self-preservation mechanisms.  Rather than make yourself vulnerable, you develop a hardshell and strike first. A “hurt or be hurt” mindset. No matter why they are in place, the very existence of these barriers makes any love hard to nurture and sustain.  Still, love manages to flourish.

So what I do think about Black love? I think it’s beautiful.


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