photo by: Dap (the insight)
"I think I'm on the right track now."-OutKast
Fun Fact: I am a wannabe Youtube makeup and natural hair guru. As a result, I find myself constantly rummaging through hundreds of Youtube videos by my favorite beauty icons (Jackie Aina, Naturally Temi, and Jennie Jenkins, I love you). Other times, I'm talking out the steps as I prep my hair for a twist out or as I'm laying my highlight ever-so-carefully on the highest point of my cheekbones (don't play, you've done this too).
Occasionally, I find myself clicking away feverishly in the "Up Next" sidebar - that's usually how I find new Youtubers to follow. I always manage to make my way through natural hair videos, makeup tutorials, storytimes and finally, along the way, I'll end up at boyfriend and husband tag videos too (again, don't play). Now, after watching approximately 25,000 of these videos, I've found myself perplexed by how Youtubers with minimal followers can have hundred's of thousands of views on their tags with their bae's.
As I began to draw a line of connection between the videos, I realized that it wasn't that these videos were more or less funny than others. These Youtubers didn't pose much different questions to their significant other's or host their significant other's in some cool or strange setting that would make their video stand out amongst the others. So, I decided that what made these specific videos stand out was the little video screenshot box that viewers preview, in order to decide whether or not each Youtube video is worth watching. All of these boxes presented interracial couples with one Black person and one white person (while this was usually the dynamic, I occasionally saw a few examples of Black and Asian couples and Black and Latinx couples). That was all the flirting it seemed to take for viewers (myself included) to be sprung and begin watching.
Coupled with Dear White People, a Netflix original series that I recently watched, I began to think about one of the reccurring themes of the show: love - specifically, Black love. I began to think about the importance of Black love, the meaning of Black love, and whether or not Black love is prejudiced or based on a desire to preserve and support Blackness and the Black identity.
If you are Black, then you should sit tight, because this will definitely relate to you. However, if you're not Black, I suggest you too sit tight and read on. You may be surprised at how this relates to you and your own ethnicity. If you find that you're a becoming mad about this piece already, or that you feel as if this is going to be an attack on interracial relationships, then I urge you to challenge yourself to another 7-10 mins of discomfort - but that's entirely up to you.
As for me, I am always learning, reading, and in search of more information. For that reason, I decided to ask for insight on Black love from a dope, Queens, New York based educator and photographer who I'll introduce a little later on (seriously, he's cool).
Before I fully introduce our insight for this piece, I think it's important to breakdown the way in which we think about love, before we can fully understand and conceptualize Black love. Although I usually refer to dictionaries for definitions of words, I feel that when talking about love, we have to leave behind all rigid definitions based on logic and reasoning. Instead, I'll utilize the spiritual guidance of the Bible. In the Bible, love is mentioned in many ways, but is characterized as follows:
"Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things." (1 Corinthians 13:4-7)
Love is powerful and no, I don't believe that love can heal the world. That's a bit too utopian, even for me. However, I know that there are certain things that love (specifically the four that I'm about to talk about) can rectify:
A type of love that is used to describe bodily love. It can relate to sex, but it is more aligned with the emotions that come with love, like elatedness and desire. Eros is described as the first stage of love. It is described as eagerness and frenzy. Eros is believed to be enough to sustain a relationship.
This is connective love. The type of love that you have for the people who you love for who they are. It's soulful and is rooted in our natural attractions to specific people (I vibe with this).
Atypical kind of love. Based on perceived ties to one's family. It's protective, strong, but lacking the emotions that easily allow people to recognize this type of love as love.
This is that sacrificial type of love. Agape love is the type of love that strong families are built on. Agape love is selflessness, it is pride, it is unconditional, it is pure. Agape love is sustainable and it believed to be the most sustainable type of love.
In an effort to remain transparent with y'all, I think it's important to say that I'm a little nervous writing this. I'm worried that openly talking about Black love will, somehow, immensely offend non-Black people. For some reason, Blackness is that threatening (it's by bell hooks, read it). I'm also worried that openly sharing the beauties of Black love with the world will somehow make it less special. I'm afraid that people with bad intentions - you know, those "color blind" folk - will somehow manage to bottle up the magic of Black love and sell it on Amazon.
Okay. Now that everything is out in the open, we're ready to really get into this - Part 2 is being cooked up!
*Disclaimer: God's good grace brought this blog to life.