The Black community has faced unspeakable hardships for over 400-years in America. This past summer brought to light that even in the most progressive times with representation in media, positions of power in politics, and celebration of cultures, Black people are still seen as subhuman and treated as such.
In recent news, constant “Karens” harassing Black people and even young Black teens like the woman who falsely accused a Black teen of stealing her phone, a Black man being harassed by a white woman while doing his job, or a Black woman being harassed and threatened by white neighbors for over seven years(!). These instances aren’t rare, they’ve only now received attention because these people have been caught on camera.
But amidst it all something beautiful that should be shared more often is the resilience, joy, and love that Black people have for each other. From different age groups, sexualities, and more, we’re celebrating love from all spectrums in the Black community. Even in the midst of social uprisings and its trauma-inducing, it’s still so important to highlight that love, joy, and health too.
Historically, Black love has not been documented as much as its other counterparts and is just starting to get the limelight that it deserves. A docu-series created in 2017 called Black Love by the OWN Network realized this and began to tell the stories that were missing in the media. Movies like Sylvie’s Love highlights Black love without trauma and even looking back TV shows like Martin, Living Single, and A Different World know exactly the importance to showcase
These stories of how these couples are so drawn to each others’ lights are beautiful and eye-opening to the constructs that we’ve built in limiting the definition of love and what that has to look like. Very Good Light asked 4 couples about their love stories, their favorite things about one another, and their experiences with Black love.
Word of warning: these answers are extremely cute.
Nat and Jay, 20, Fort Lauderdale and Atlanta
We met two years ago on Tinder. Jay lived in Georgia while I lived in Florida. We officially met in October of 2019 about two or three months after we had started talking. Our first date was at Disney World because I had worked there at the time.
We feel there is a certain comfort with being with someone that understands the unique experience of being black, femme, and queer in America. The common ground and shared experiences create room for the two to grow and heal together.
Black love means learning, listening, uplifting, and engaging with one another even when that’s not the easy thing to do. Black love has withstood so many years of trauma, pain, and unimaginable acts of violence that it must still thrive on for a reason. Black love is communal and interpersonal, allowing us all to continuously comfort and strengthen one another through.
Jaxson and Da’Shaun, 28 and 24, North Carolina
Jaxson and I met through Twitter in 2017. They DM’d me about their then-partner, and we’ve been friends ever since.
My favorite thing about Jaxson, physically, is absolutely their eyes. They’re beautifully brown. I never thought I would relate to getting lost in someone’s eyes, but I do genuinely get lost in theirs. My favorite thing about Da’Shaun is their smile. It’s so beautiful and can bring this sense of peace. You know that feeling when you see that special thing or person, and you can feel the weight of the world fall off your shoulders? That’s what I feel when I see them smile.
Jaxson and I share similar experiences in that we’re both Black, trans, and queer, but we also experience all those things differently and hold identities that the other doesn’t. In that way, it’s important to me to be with someone romantically that’s Black, but having shared identities doesn’t necessarily mean I won’t have to war against internalized anti-Blackness. I’d much rather do that, however, with a Black person than spend my time teaching people who benefit from my subjugation. So I think that’s the fundamental importance for me.
Black Love is a commitment to Black freedom; to the destruction of the conditions by which Black people are subjugated. I think of it as both an embodied praxis and a call to action. Black love to me is about loving my black partner, having black kids and raising a black ass family. To love freely, to love loudly because you are proud of your partner and the black love you give each other.
Katiana and Takeo, 22, Tampa
We actually met prior to dating in high school through us having mutual friends, but it wasn’t until our first years of college and social media that we actually tried something different.
My favorite thing about Takeo is his creativity and his drive to succeed. His work ethic is out of this world and he’s inspired me so much to step out of my comfort zone and just have fun with myself and what life has to offer. I love her goofiness and as much as I hate to admit it, her sense of humor.
Sharing love with someone who understands blackness is validating my existence.I think being with someone who shares your experience is great because that other person understands your experience without much having to be overstated or explained and I think that that understanding is the most important part.
Black love to me, is strength, endurance, power, unity, passion, and balance. To be able to love each other out loud and co-exist in the same realm is otherworldly. Just as we breathe, we break barriers together simultaneously and as a collective. It’s tender and compassionate, and sweet and beautiful and enduring and strong when done right. Black love is a lot like a diamond formed from a rock in a hard place, a gem formed from the pressures of being black but finding the beauty in somebody understanding you without much having to be explained.
Jakie and Deveja, 22 and 27, Dallas
We met off of what felt like fate. A simple message in the DM turned into a spark of interest that led to a beautiful relationship.
I feel the most loved in our heartfelt conversation; letting me into your heart and mind. Sharing our goals, future plans and emotions. When I just look and you are there just enjoying the time we spend with me
Black love is contagious. Being able to have a partner and a best friend all in one with someone who gets you; it uplift others to see that they can come across their other half. That person who has strengths, love, support, and respect them. It’s simply amazing, I love to see more black love. Black love is unapologetic, a meeting of two beautiful souls that you pray grow together into eternity
Ericka and Ebony, 34 and 30, Oakland and Puerto Rico
We met on Tinder in 2016 when Ebony was visiting New York for the summer.
My favorite thing about Ericka is how she shows up for her family and friends. When she says, “imma call you right back” she actually means and does it while constantly encouraging me to pick up my phone more and call my people. My favorite thing about Ebony is how tender he is; how sweet he is, how he cares about the world, how smart he is, and how he loves Black people.
It is vital, life saving and nurturing to be with someone who shares the same experience as you. It’s of the utmost importance that Black people see the beauty and loveliness in one another when historically, the emphasis has been on a post-racial or multiracial society, where lots of mixed race couples are celebrated in commercials and media to signify some social progress but it’s rare to see these same mainstream depictions of two very phenotypically Black people in love. It begs the question why is that? And it also reinforces that there is something political and radical and special about Black love that makes it less celebrated in the mainstream.
Black love isn’t just in the capitalistic romantic sense but shared across kindred and kinfolk relations of all types. It’s free, it’s queered by virtue of its Blackness, it‘s always uprooting any patriarchy or anti blackness that might come up inside the relationship or in the world, it is wholly committed to the liberation of all Black people everywhere and our lives depend on it. Black love subverts the notion that Black people aren’t worthy or deserving of love and that if and when we are, it must be given externally, through someone or something else outside of Blackness, that it needs to be affirmed by cis het white standards before it is valid. Black love is in direct resistance to State sanctioned violence against Black people because it indicates that not only are we here, but we’re being loved and loved on through it all and in spite of all that tries to destroy us.
Bonus: a single person’s perspective!
Drew, 23, Miami
I feel most loved when someone goes out of their way for me completely for my benefit, and not their own.
I think it’s very important to be with someone who has a shared experience with me. For me, being both Black and queer in a world that isn’t used to us all that much can make you feel like an outsider, I firmly believe seeking out individuals who have experienced the same things as you more or less will only benefit you in the long run. I’m learning to love myself differently by putting myself first in the most selfless way possible.
Black love is my foundation, it’s where I feel most at home. It’s a special kind of love I’m so happy to be a part of because no one knows how to love us like us.