My very good friend Natasha and I are coming to the completion of our 4-part blog series on Black Love in honor of Black History Month. Below is the the final blog of the series written by me, Gabrielle. To read other blog post from the series click here.
To be honest, I struggled greatly with writing this blog. I constantly thought, “what do I know about black love” or “who am I to write about black love”. My upbringing, in terms of my family dynamic, has led me to doubt myself when I think about black love, black marriage to be exact. And to add to it, I’ve been in one relationship and that was as a teenager, so what do I know. But before I go on I want to share where these doubts stem from.
I didn’t grow up seeing black love. I grew up in the home of a resilient black woman, a single black mother. My parents got divorced when I was four years old and my dad is, and always has been, a part of my life. As a result, I didn’t think black love existed within my culture because I rarely witnessed it in my extended family and I didn’t see it in my neighborhood. I did see it in the household of some of my black friends. But where I saw love the most was outside of the black community, in the white spaces that I did some of my life in. The parents of a lot of my white friends growing up were married. In movies I saw, most white couples were married. And in those same movies, and in other movies, black families mostly consisted of a single mother and a “deadbeat dad”. My understanding of the realities of marriage in my culture and other cultures were completely inaccurate and it has taken me reaching my late twenties to truly realize this.
With that being said, I am thankful. I am thankful for my family and my upbringing because it has taught me the extreme importance of who you chose to marry and the seriousness of the marriage commitment. Two huge lessons that I may not believe in so tightly if my upbringing was any different. It has allowed me to see the power and beauty in black love in ways that others may not. Through doing life with black married couples throughout my adulthood I have been able to first-hand witness what black love it, and it is powerful and beautiful.
What is black love?
Black love is a tradition. Don’t get it twisted, black love is not something that was created in the 21st century as a trend or a hashtag. Black love was created hundreds of years ago by black ancestors that dreamed and fought to keep their families together in the midst of difficult and painful circumstances. It is the love stories of perseverance that are passed down by grandparents to younger generations. Black love is the tradition of a resilient black woman and a strong black man together advocating for one another and for their marriage. A tradition that younger and future generations want to continue building on because they see the power and legacies that are established when two are truly committed to becoming one.
Black love is respect and honor. It is bringing all of yourself to the table while at the same time receiving respect and honor because all of you is valued and appreciated. It is showering black women in respect and honor because you understand their resilience is a result of all they’ve endured as little girls and women. It is covering black men in respect and honor because you celebrate the strength they display as they face constant discrimination, belittling, pressures, and stereotypes. Black love is filling your household with respect and honor because you know it might be difficult to receive it anywhere else.
Black love is a full understanding of self while lovingly sacrificing for others. Black love is two individual people with their own identity coming together for the rest of their lives to lovingly sacrifice for their spouse. Black love is first knowing who you are so you can fully give to your spouse. It is being able to give the most thoughtful and true compliments to your spouse and be their biggest champion in life because you know you aren’t in competition with them. You can compliment and champion your spouse rather than be in competition with you because you know your identity as an individual is secure. Your identity isn’t based on your spouse’s identity.
Black love is beautiful. Black love is beautiful because of its commitment to forever. You may not see this love every day but when you do it stands out (at least to me) because of the beauty that it carries. A strong black man and a resilient black woman being each others’ biggest supporters, refusing to go to bed angry at one other, talking through their problems and emotions, serving one on another inside and outside their home. To me, that’s the beauty. It’s defying the odds, the statistics, the past, and creating a future that impacts all those around you because of the seriousness of the commitment to forever.
Black love breaks generational curses. Imagine never seeing or knowing about the existence of black marriage. Your whole life you never witnessed a black marriage because no one around you was married, it’s foreign and unheard of to you. Well, black love changes that. Black love gives hope for some where there is none. Black love shows younger and older, generations that a black man and a black woman can truly commit the rest of their lives to one another.
All of this sounds great. And you may think this is the type of love you want to experience or that this type of love is #goals. But this love isn’t complete without God as the foundation. You see, tradition, respect and honor, sacrifice and beauty can’t reach its fullness in the context of marriage without the creator of marriage, God. This picture that has been painted of black love is only a reality when it is founded in the truth and promises that God gives in the Bible. It is giving of yourself every day because of love just like Jesus did on the cross for all of us. It is holding our standards for marriage according to what the Word says and not what your friend, social media, music, and society says. Black love isn’t a walk in the park, it is hard work that takes a true commitment to forever. Black love is great but it is the greatest when God is set as the foundation.
Although I didn’t grow up witnessing black love I’ve been able to learn and witness it from others, and as a result, I think about it from time to time. I think about tradition, breaking generational curses, respect and honor, sacrifice and beauty. And I want that. I want my future children to fall in love with love because of how they see their father and I love one another. I want my future children to not have to find out what love is from their friends, teachers and media because they first learned what love is from their parents. I want my future daughter to set her bar high when it comes to her future husband because of the sweet love she sees her father lavish on her and myself. I want my future son to set his bar high because he sees me completely honor and respect his father, care for our family while also making an impact for the kingdom. I want black love so my family can change the black narrative for generations and generations to come.
So what now?
Natasha and I are so glad that you decided to journey with us through this Black Love series the past month. I hope you were challenged just as I was as I thought hard about what black self love is and why it’s important, read responses from the black men and women we interviewed and doubted my voice when talking about black love. But for now it is time to act as we continue to grow in the knowledge and awareness of black love. Whether you’ve seen it or experienced it, or if you haven’t, know that black love is powerful and black love is beautiful. Black love is real and it is here to stay.