“Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, whilst loving someone deeply gives you courage”
As February is often referred to as the month of love (as in the middle of it falls Valentine’s Day) I thought I would explore ‘black love’. When deciding to write about this topic it had me thinking; what exactly does black love mean? I googled it and not much came to surface however, it is a very large topic with many aspects and layers associated to it.
Since there was not much to go on, I had no definite idea or clear concept about this particular subject. I initially wrote a blog about black love; however, when I finished it I wasn’t sure whether I was doing this topic any justice. This first draft (which ended up in the dustbin) tried to cover so much. It touched on slavery, interracial relationships, the degradation of black women and so forth. All these areas are extremely relevant but after writing my blog and reading it several times I came to realise that it never really touched my soul nor did it give me a fire in my belly whilst writing it. It actually became a chore and cumbersome when writing, on reflection this is probably an indication of how black love is viewed by society, and maybe even myself; It could be the reason why there isn’t much written online about the topic. So I have decided to try again and hopefully second time around I will have hit the spot.
Black Love was derived from the online campaign hash tag #blacklovewhereby positive examples of black love were represented. This aimed at counteracting the poor or even lacking depictions of black love being portrayed by the mainstream media outlets. Black relationships are seldom acknowledged and when they are, we are subjected to a negative narrative where love is considered unusual, toxic or non-existent with black women often described as being a single mother with different ‘baby fathers’ for each of their children; or independent black women who can do it all by themselves. As for the men, particularly Afro Caribbean men, they are portrayed as non-committed with a sense of wherever they lay their hats that’s their home (for a limited time anyway). These stereotypes were recently emphasised when it was discovered that these negative descriptions were published in a GCSE Sociology book for 15 – 16 year olds by AQAexam board, and resulted in its removal as it was unsubstantiated information. This shows that there is not a balanced view on black relationships and family, therefore our children and other cultures either buy into the stereotypical storyline or consider black love and family to be a farce.
Recently, I have seen a number of videos circulating via Whatsapp of “black love” which celebrates black couples positively. When viewing videos such as these I feel emotional and proud of the positive representations; however, it still does not really define what it is. For me, as an adult and after really reflecting on the subject, black love simply means ‘to love and to be loved’ it’s as simple as that. Growing up in a black Caribbean family and having strong interactions with my parents, extended family and their friends it also means unity, growth and overcoming adversities together. This statement particularly refers to the first and second generation immigrants that came to the UK in the 1950s and 60s like my parents, aunts, uncles and senior members within my community. When they arrived in the UK they left behind their family, friends, homes and some even had to leave behind their young children. Many, in particular the men, came ahead of their spouse/partners to get settled, find a home and a job to then save their money to send for their loved ones.
This is not an unusual story, it is an experience than many families have shared, and it’s also not unusual that our parents and grandparents set the foundations for their children, grandchildren and now for some, their great grandchildren to live so much more freely than they did when they first came to the UK. They started off with renting a room, but through hard graft, sacrifice and partnership many were able to buy their own homes, with most achieving this through employment doing manual and hard labour jobs. For the majority once the foundations were set they would then send for the children that they left behind. Life definitely was not easy during these times; the struggle was real as they had to deal with racism, not being able to buy their motherland food, the extreme cold weather, being alone and away from their family and children, to start a new life.
Now, I am not trying to put rose tinted glasses on the situation as we all know that life is not a Walt Disney fairy tale and for some it worked out, whilst for others it did not. When you sit and listen to some of their stories, there were some ‘characters’ who lived a wayward lifestyle. On the most part the older generation had high morals and values which the majority abided by, respected and enforced both in their children’s and their own everyday life – in the same way as many other races for that matter. This does not seem to be anything new.
But what is different is that the younger generation are more influenced by social media and other media outlets such as movies, celebrities, music etc where they are sold an illusion about what life should be like and not what life is really about. Everything is based on materialism, everyone wants to be rich and famous and people no longer want to work hard or wait to achieve or receive success, money, materialism ‘stuff’ and unfortunately everyone now appears to be living a double life – real life and social media life and we no longer know what is reality and what is the lie. Back in the days our influences were mainly based on those who we had around us, we never relied on celebrities to become our role models; it was those who were around us, those who cared for us, fought for us and stuck together with us through the good and bad times.
On reflection, my interpretation of black love is what I have always known and understood it to be, people (couples, family and friends) who have love and respect for each other, who collectively, laugh together, share one another’s dreams, support one another but importantly when the chips are down they stand by one another’s side and fight the battle as one. I have come to realise that black love does not only reflect the love as shown in a relationship between couples, it also reflects the love that we share as individuals and as a community. At times sadly, it appears that the foundations that we have built have become derailed but it is always possible to get back on track as long as we go back to the roots of what we know.
Here are a few definitions of ‘Black Love’ which some people have shared with me:
“A passionate feeling of deep affection between two black people in a committed partnership composed of love, trust, loyalty, honesty, support, laughter, caring for each other”.
“Seeing the rest but staying with the blessed and best”
“A display of unity and pride”
“Best friends that elevate each other through life’s journey”
“Black love is truth, making love and feel as one in intimacy, it comes in many shades, it is dedicated to your race and it is being proud of knowing your hidden history”
“Black love to me means the bond shared by people of colour that means when the chips are down and any one part is vulnerable – they pull together to support protect, defend and thrive. Black love is love that keeps the discriminated going when everything else says give up! It’s the love that allowed our people to overcome bondage and still keep our heads up aspiring for better for our young”
“Black love is a let-down, black love ended in my grandmother’s generation”
“My definition of black love can be summed up in one word ‘intense’. Black love is an intense love because black men and women are naturally strong minded people. We are not like other races that can sweep things under the carpet. That is why it is a strong and intense love”
Black love is resilient, strong and beautiful like a diamond. The best, highest and deepest form of love”
“My definition of black love is two fully black people who are both in love with each other with the same values and morals stemming from black heritage. They know who they are and where they are going and they are strong as a unit”
“When a black man and woman are in love and committed to each other. They are united and their love extends to not just loving within but the colour of each other’s skin and the walk together with pride and their heads held high”
“Knowing what whatever prejudices you face in the outside world your partner understands and has your back”
“Black love is equilibrium. The black man and woman are as one in harmony and tandem with each other. The black woman is the creator of life; the black man is the protector of life. Nothing else comes near it. The fire, the passion, the feeling is power. The black man and woman are the world”
“Black love is the deepest form of love to me, as it gives without wanting any returns and keeps on giving although it knows the deepest and darkest depths of pain and continues to feel it”
As you can see, black love is built on so many definitions but ultimately it is built on one thing, ‘to love and to be loved’ and as long as we keep showing and sharing love we can continue to share the legacy of our ancestors.
What does black love mean to you? Please share this by commenting below.