photo by: Dap (the insight)
“At first love weakens you. But soon it makes you strong in ways you couldn’t imagine.” -RZA
**STOP** If you haven't already read Luh U: Black Love - pt.1, do it! This will all make much more sense.
Remember when I outlined 4 major types of love? (Seriously, read pt.1) Yeah, I lied - there’s 5. The fifth is a bit more controversial. Why? I’m not entirely sure. However, I figure that most things that threaten our current (white, masculine, and capitalistic) power structure are viewed as controversial. I’m sure you’ve already figured out that I’m talking about Black Love. If not, it's cause you did read part 1!
(From here until the next green dashed line, I’ll only be speaking in parenthesis. The rest of this piece will be the thoughts of our insight, Dap. All portions in parenthesis are my interjected thoughts as our insight laid down his his thoughts on Black Love.)
(Sit tight ladies, gents and you beautiful non-conforming people - Here we go.)
5. Black Love
Black love is love, but still, it is something separate all together. Black Love breathes and lives. When you see it, it’s palpable. When you feel it, it’s palpable. You can taste Black Love. It’s in your grandmother’s sweet potatoes. You can feel Black Love. It’s in the callouses on your grandfather's hands. You can smell Black Love. It’s in your mother’s hair. You can see Black Love. You see it in the shame your pop wears after “work.” You can hear Black Love. You hear Black Love in Marvin Gaye's ballads. It’s [that moment when] your partner looks at you… Like really looks at you.
(I started following Dap around my junior or senior year of high school. Just another random Tumblr account that I decided to follow. His photography was, and still is, amazing, so I kept up with his art via Instagram - I’ll link all his info at the end of this piece so y’all can show him love. One thing that caught me off guard about his Instagram, besides the melanin coated consciousness that dripped through each photo uploaded to his account, was one fragment of the bold bio that he had - his bio is always changing, but this one stuck around for a long time. It read “exclusive to Black women.” Now, for all my sisters reading this, I know y’all are probably just as confused as I was. I kept re-reading this portion of his bio, again and again, contemplating how anyone could be exclusive to Black women. I wondered, "Who dropped this brother on his head?!" I'm not perfect. I'm STILL undoing the years of learned self-hatred, so that's probably why this thought was the first to surface. Either way, it was an Instagram bio that inspired this piece. So I inquired further. I was determined to get to the bottom of this sick joke and understand what exactly this brother meant and why he was fucking with all of our emotions. First, I think it’s important to get to know who he is, his upbringing, and the way that his experiences have shaped the way in which he declares his love for Black people - specifically Black women.)
(I present to you, our insight: Dap.)
Name: Kimane (a.k.a Dap).
It started of with myself and three [younger] sisters (their names all begin with the letter K and I thought this was great).
I serve the Black and brown community as a History teacher.
Photography was my calling. I’ve always been really artsy, but never had a medium that felt perfect...until photography. When I was at my HBCU, I wanted to push myself out of my shell - I was a hermit and recognized that I had to get out to grow. This cat put me on to our university newspaper and it’s been history ever since.
I only shoot Black and brown brothers and sisters. It’s ULTRA RARE if I shoot anyone else.
I really love Black folk - We come in so many shapes, shades, and styles. My art's purpose is to celebrate Blackness in ALL its glory.
I’m exclusive to Black women, because of the Black women in my life (whoever y'all are, you did the damn thing). My ma always instilled in me an appreciation for sisters. She simply demanded that I marry one!
I just ended up falling in love with Black women. Plus I have three younger sisters. They take pride in knowing that Kimane, their big brother, loves him a sister! It’s a constant reminder that their Black IS beautiful (I know - I cried too).
(He doesn’t think Black Love is revolutionary, here’s why.) Black Love has always existed. I think what happens is it’s so brutally stigmatized. It’s sometime painted in a single shade. Back folk have been loving each other for a longggggg time.
(Now, I know y'all have questions. I have questions and I'm the one who conducted this interview! Questions are great. We’ve come to the part in this piece where people will begin to ask themselves: If I say that I am exclusive to one group of people, then people will call me racist - why is being exclusive to Black people not racist, but being exclusive to white people is? (If you have this question, or some variation of this question, don't worry. I feel you. So I asked. Peep his answer below.))
(Next (assumed) question: He can't know for sure. You can fall in love with anyone! How can this brother know for sure that he's going to be with a Black woman?)
I've been in true love once and it was with a sister. I invest so much of my energy and time in places where I'm exposed to an array of black women and culture. When I'm looking for a partner or hit with the love bug, the chances are ridiculously high that she will be a sister. Can I use a fishing analogy? My favorite and only spots I fish are full of diverse and beautiful black and brown fish. When I throw my line out, a huge percentage of the time it's a black fish that I'm reeling back in. I hope that made any sense at all!
With love, I always walk in faith.
He's dope, I know.
I am the product of Black Love. I believe in Black Love, I've tasted Black Love, I'm tasting Black Love and it's so swee(t). I am blessed to constantly have stunning examples of Black Love in my life. My parents were my first introduction to Black Love. My father, ever the optimist, and my mother, the realeast realist (hi mama!), compliment each other so perfectly. I grew up understanding that their Black Love was founded on an undeniably strong cultural connection - there's something special about speaking to your partner in a language that you both know so well. I grew up seeing my mother giggle when my father would give her a tap on the butt as he walked by and listening my my father reminisce about only being able to communicate with my mother via letters while they were dating.
My second example of Black Love began during my pre-adolescence years. This was crucial. My oldest brother introduced me to his, at the time, new girlfriend. I felt awkward about her at first - not for any particular reason, but because meeting your sibling's significant other will always be a little awkward. Nearly 10 years later, she would become his fiancé and my confidant - the sister I never asked for, but am so blessed to have. With them, I see young, healthy, supportive Black Love. I'm thankful to have them as role models. Welcome to the fam Nina! <3
When I think of Black Love, I think of the love that El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz (Malcolm X) had for Betty. I think of chubby cheeked Black and brown babies. I think of the richness of shea butter and the comforting smell of coconut oil. I think of prayer. I think of sacrifice, R&B, and kinky-curly hair. I think of understanding rather than fetishizing. I think of melanin, sugar, and honey. I think of radiant sunshine and of cool fall evenings. I think of disobedience, resilience and defiance. I think of pain. Black Love is the evidence of Blackness persisting through immense adversity.
I love Black Love.
*Disclaimer: God's good grace brought this blog to life.