I was on Bumble doing my standard swipe to the left, to the left when I stumbled across something that made me actually want to swipe right… And it wasn’t because I’d spotted a hottie!
For Black History Month, this year Bumble are celebrating the joy of Black Love with their #MyLoveIsBlackLove campaign. Everyday in October they’ve been sharing stories from Black British artists, actors, athletes, entrepreneurs and activists to champion what love means to them and the Black British community today.
And after wiping a tear from the corner of my eye from witnessing the sheer beauty of Black people being represented and celebrated in such a positive way. I got to thinking – What IS Black Love?
I don’t know about you but in this day and age whenever I want to get a deeper understanding of something my first step is to whip out my phone (I’m lying, it was already in my hand) and google it. According to Urban Dictionary‘s top definition 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 can not be stopped.
- They have a big family that stay together because of black love.
- I want black love.
I always find Urban Dictionary definitions amusing but I still wanted to explore the concept more so I asked around. And do you know what I found out? Black Love is so many things.
Black Love is… Romance
For many, hearing the term Black Love evokes an image of the black power couple, Jada and Will (pre-entanglement), Bey & Jay (in Bonnie & Clyde) Michelle and Barack (there’s still at least one couple we can pin all our Black Love hopes on). As we all know relationships aren’t without their flaws but knowing each partner has the others back and who seem to be ride or die, is the ultimate symbol of Black Love. (While I’m writing this paragraph I have Erykah Badu’s Brown Skin playing in my head). Romantic Black Love (like all love) is complex and takes a huge amount of patience, understanding and communication but done right; Black Love truly is something special.
But Black Love is also so much more than just being in a black relationship.
Black Love is… Friendship
I grew up in a predominantly white area and so my formative years (during school hours anyway) were spent in the company of white people. I’ll be honest I don’t remember feeling completely out of place at the time but once I left school and started meeting a wider variety of people of colour, the realisation of what I’d been missing hit me! My black friendships offered me that feeling of being understood without having to say a word, of being accepted without having to explain myself, of being included and no longer feeling as though “other” was my middle name. I have amazing friendships with people from a variety of backgrounds but there is something so freeing about that sense of kinship I feel with my sistah’s and brotha’s.
Black Love is… Family
One of my favourite films growing up was Soul Food, a very entertaining depiction of the big black family brought to life on screen. Although there is a lot of family drama and I mean a helluva lot, what I love most is that through it all they still come back together (that and the soundtrack). I don’t think I can adequately describe how it feels when I’m in the presence of the people who’ve known and loved me the longest. Who’ve celebrated me at my best but also loved me through my absolute worst. What an awesome feeling to know, these people will always be there no matter what, that there’s nothing you could ever do to make them stop loving you (even when you drive them to the edge of madness and they do the same to you). Personally I don’t know that there can be a deeper connection than that.
Black Love is… Community
It’s that feeling of excitement and joy when someone you don’t even know has done well. It’s that deep sense of hurt you feel when you see yet another black body being brutalised. It’s that overwhelming wish that one day we shall truly overcome, so that future generations of black children don’t have to feel how we’ve felt. It’s sensing the spirits of our ancestors and feeling at peace when we go “home“. It’s our shared history, our sense of pride, our need to seek each other out. Our instinct to acknowledge each other whether it be through a smile, a polite greeting or ‘the nod’. It’s our culture, our traditions, our soul, our rhythm and our blues!
Black Love is… Self Love
The most vital Black Love starts with loving yourself. For many of us especially those of us who grew up in predominantly white countries, we’ve most likely internalised the message that our skin, our hair, our features and even our names don’t belong. I was fortunate to constantly have the message that “black is beautiful” reinforced to me everyday of my life. Even so it took until the latter part of my teen years until I truly believed it. And unfortunately for some it takes even longer. We can never stop teaching ourselves to love the things we’ve been taught to hate, to embrace the things they taught us were unattractive and to accept the things we’ve been told are wrong, as loving ourselves unconditionally is what makes us truly powerful!
However you view Black Love, one thing we are as a people is deserving of receiving Black Love in each of it’s wonderful forms.