Black Love is more than just something you say; it is something you do. Black Love creates and maintains enduring bonds amidst precarity created by legacies of institutionalized slavery, settler colonialism, and systems of oppression. Black Love is the persistent fight among Black folx to love each other and form practices of love despite oppression.
I am a practitioner of Black feminist love politics. That means I believe Black Love begins with self-love: the process of loving ourselves and not trying to fit within norms that were never constructed with my or your humanity in mind. Black Love is also collective. It reaches out across the aisle and touches hands with others. We show love toward each other in our collective solidarity work, intentionally pursuing everyone’s liberation at the intersection of our race, gender, class, sexuality, ability, religion, citizenship status, and more.
And lastly, Black Love resists state control, recognizing that our liberation cannot come from the state because the state is not invested in our preservation. We must transcend the state and move toward what feels and is good for us as Black people. That is what Black Love is-- the process of Black people loving on each other, and in a manner that leads to liberation in our personal and collective endeavors.
In order to reach the collective practice of Black Love, we must agree that both trauma and resiliency are interwoven into Black people’s lives. If Black Love is to endure, we cannot ignore these traumas, their legacies, and the complicated ways they inform how we’ve experienced love and show love. What do I mean by this? It means understanding that we are the descendants of ancestors who were stolen from their homes, we were colonized and enslaved on the continent of Africa, we were chained to ships that carried us overseas to colonized nations, and our bodies used for capitalist endeavors. We were torn from our families, women’s bodies sexually exploited and abused, and men’s bodies burned and abused. We have experienced systemic racism such as the War on Drugs, housing inequality, Apartheid, and the prison industrial complex which placed an assault on our families, communities, and love partnerships.
These experiences are trauma. That trauma, combined with racialized gender stereotypes about our womanhood and manhood, are interwoven into our love partnerships. An example of these stereotypes are the well-known “Angry” Black woman and man. Our consistent efforts to suppress the range of our emotions, so we are not perceived as to angry, to loud, and to hostile in the presence of non-Black people contributes to our inability to fully emote in our love partnerships. The trauma associated with managing our Blackness can cause us to sometimes internalize hatred against our own humanity. This can look like us calling each other angry, loud, and hostile. If we are not careful and mindful about calling each other these harmful tropes, then we risk perpetuating a similar harm to each other. We can do better, and we will do better, and we will show loving kindness toward each other.
Black Love requires that we go inward and deal with our personal responses to these traumas after we have acknowledged them. We must reach down deep within ourselves and deal with TRAUMA. Trauma? Yes, trauma. This means we must reflect on our lives growing up and being Black and woman, and man, and trans, and gay, and lesbian, and queer, and polyamorous, and multi-racial, and Christian, and Muslim, and Buddhist, and Agnostic, and Atheist, and the combination of an endlessly expansive lists of identities that structures a multitude of meanings, disempowerment, and empowerment within varying institutional and social contexts.
If we do not carefully navigate these social categories by using them productively, then we risk perpetuating trauma. Black Love pushes us to go further, do the work of self-love, so we can live a radically liberated life filled with emancipatory love. This is what Black Love means to me. I experience and benefit from enacting this form of Black love, by caring for myself, by showing compassion toward others, and by investing in my, yours, and our humanity.
The space upon which this statement rests, a website and blog spot, is meant to bring understanding and knowledge to all of us through a selection of writings, poems, and interviews with activists, scholars, and everyday people about the importance of emancipatory love.