BY: DANIELLE GERMAIN
As a pre-teen, I was always able to find examples of "Black love" in the on-screen couples from many of my favorite movies and TV shows. Darius and Nina from "Love Jones," New New and Rashad from "ATL," Dwayne and Whitley from "A Different World," Uncle Phil and Aunt Viv from "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air" and Martin and Gina from "Martin" were all couples I looked up to because their relationships were unique, and always seemed to survive any obstacle life threw at them. These beautiful black couples showed me so much about success and togetherness in relationships, to the point where these shows were often about more than just the couples themselves. They focused on what love did for those couples despite all that was happening around them, and what unity meant to each family. The Black celebrity couples that I look up to have managed to do the exact same thing. Barack and Michelle Obama, Gabrielle Union and Dwyane Wade, Jay Z and Beyonce, Steve and Marjorie Harvey, as well as David and Tamela Mann have shown the general public that the foundational principle of their marriages is their faith, companionship, perseverance and laughter. They all make "Black love" something we aspire to have.
What exactly is the "Black love" mantra everyone keeps talking about? If two black people are together, in love or married, does that count as "Black love"? Is a father teaching his son how to shoot a basketball "Black Love"? Or, is two friends dappin' each other up an example of "Black Love" too? Honestly, the answer is that all of these things are "Black Love." There is dedication and loyalty in the way we love each other. The relationships we pursue require a willingness to compromise and an open-mindedness that get us to the love we so deeply crave.
Our history was shaped through the lens of Black men watching our women being raped. Our women watched painfully as their men were tortured and beaten. Black families were ripped apart for decades. It was "Black love," among other things, that overcame this. There is great power that can only be found in Black men and women, a power that was formed over a history of hardships, disparagement and persecution. It's our kind of love that has been molded by what we've been through. Our love yells at its enemies, "Nothing will ever tears us apart again." Our love protected us when no one else did, and we must continue to protect it now. "Black love" is what saved our world and it's everything we need to thrive.
Now what does the "Black" part of "Black love" have to do with anything? "Black love" is the substance that keeps us going. "Black love" is just the right amount of syrup on your pancakes or sugar in your tea. Black love is the way your dad kisses your mom when he comes in from a long day at work. It's the sacrifices made for you to have the life that you do. It's the love that surrounds the dinner table. It's in the stories told by aunts and uncles. It's found in grandpa's prayers and our oldest spirituals. "Black love" is unique, and it requires us to go back to our roots. This kind of love stands alone.
Now don't get me wrong, this kind of love can also be infatuating. But it's also knowing that if you always feel safe with your partner, then neglect never crosses your mind. It's two pieces of the heart being reconnected. It's a force that's unbreakable. Black people love as hard as we possibly can because we fought for the right to do so. When we love, it runs deep. It's a standard of respect and trust shared between two people in an attempt to continue building up our community.
Bruce Lee described love as "a friendship caught on fire," and I couldn't agree more. Speaking from my own experience, relationships haven't always worked out in the past. It's been a lot of giving myself to people who really didn't appreciate me. However, my current relationship is completely different. It's filled with constant respect, passion and support. We are always sharing our joys and sorrows with one another. He has made me believe in "Black Love" again. This love creates thoughts that have kept me up at night smiling. This love feels like a constant ray of sunshine hitting my skin. He forces me to constantly step outside of my comfort zone, and allows me to be myself.
My hope is that everyone gets to experience a love like this. "Black love" is a model for strength and stability, and we've learned a lot from this love. As our first Valentine's Day approaches, I could not be more excited. To everyone celebrating this beautiful holiday, whether through self love, with friends or a significant other, I hope it is everything you wish it to be.