Have you seen, read, or heard declarations of “Black love?”
Maybe, it was a hashtag on social media or words on a t-shirt.
In case you are unaware, our world has been experiencing a movement in “Black love.”
Black love is love.
And love is beautiful.
Black love uplifts strong and healthy families, individuals, relationships, and communities.
It uplifts our world.
By the way, I love Black people.
My love for Black people does not require and indicate that I hate anyone else. Likewise, my love for husband who is a White heterosexual, cisgender male does not indicate a hatred for Black people or alignment with the Third Reich.
However, we are in times where people struggle with imagining a world where all of this is possible.
Although Black love promotes dignity within systems that seek to dehumanize us, it can be complicated.
In this post, I discuss two complicated aspects of the contemporary surge of Black love in the United States.
First, I give an overview about how Black love has become another target of racial ignorance and paranoia. Next, I discuss how contemporary race relations has compelled more extremist and separatist politics in the name of Black love. Before closing, I challenge this promotion of hate.
1. Target of Racial Ignorance and Paranoia
A. Racial Ignorance
If you are a person who think statements about Black love automatically means hatred of everyone else, then you have an opportunity to think about the way YOU project your views on the world.
Black people choosing to to love ourselves is not an act of bigotry.
Black people creating affirming spaces in a White supremacist society is not racist, either.
If you roll your eyes or emotionally check out because you have just read “White” and “supremacist” or both together, this response reveals a resistance to seeing how you might inadvertently support White supremacy. And I’m not talkin’ White folks carrying tiki torches with overt expressions of hate.
One might argue that declarations of “Black love” are racist because White people “can’t” declare “White love” without social ramification.
This argument arises from a de-historicized misconception of an even playing field across all domains of society. It ignores how “White love” is ever thrusted upon all of society through colorblind rhetoric.
We see celebrations of “White love” by the predominance of White people occupying top positions in corporate America, entertainment, religion, politics, and education, while maintaining the structural and cultural conditions that advantage White people (and favored minority groups) across class to have access to these spheres under the myth of meritocracy.
White love is all around, but colorblind racism affords it to remain nameless. As a result, we see White people who ever promote White love in all White spaces, and simply call it “love.”
Hence, the predominantly and all-white spaces reflect a devotion to White love with the label of “love.”
My statement of “I love Black people,” might illicit an angry response in different people because it pushes back at any uninterrogated link between White love and White supremacy in their own lives.
This inner resistance possibly stems the unexplored societal creation of White love at expense of systemically and individually raping, robbing, disenfranchising, killing millions of Black and indigenous people.
Thriving Black Love and Racial Soul Searching
Black love has thrived in spite of White people who benefited from and willfully ignore benefits incurred from the systemic raping, robbing, disenfranchising, killing millions of Black and indigenous people.
Americans have long viewed marriage between a white man and a white woman as a sacred union. But marriages between African Americans have seldom been treated with the same reverence. This discriminatory legacy traces back to centuries of slavery, when the overwhelming majority of black married couples were bound in servitude as well as wedlock…
After emancipation, white racism continued to menace black marriages. Laws passed during Reconstruction, ostensibly to secure the civil rights of newly freed African American citizens, were often coercive and repressive. Informal antebellum traditions of marriage were criminalized, and the new legal regime became a convenient tool for plantation owners to discipline agricultural workers. Recognition of the right of African Americans to enter into wedlock on terms equal to whites would remain a struggle into the Jim Crow era, and its legacy would resonate well into the twentieth century.
Therefore, if you feel angered by the mention of “Black love,” chances are you might stand in need of some racial soul searching and education or edumacation (take your pick).
I am of the belief that a critique is not hatred. I critique White supremacy and the normalization of Whiteness and how it is detrimental for all people.
People with an extremely reductive perspective interpret these things as being against all White people. Certainly, if you are a person who wants all things White to control and remain at the center of life, then you will be offended and call it racist.
Most likely you are the same person who gives lip service about racism and colorblindness, but never seem to call attention to it. You reserve your outspokenness to identifying Black people as racist.
B. Racial Paranoia
We have individuals, particularly White people, who have racial paranoia, a long-standing inheritance that they do not realize they have, yet ever act it out on Black people, from calling the police over fictitious, petty, or noncriminal actions (It is worth noting that individuals who support a racist society can be Black, People of Color, and White).
Something about seeing a group of Black people together sparks anxiety, as well. They feel fear, jealous, and anger when Black people come together and have the audacity to possess joy.
They are triggered anytime a Black person has confidence and says the word, “Black.”
These individuals think of a lot of hypothetical situations that will most likely never occur in effort to control the minds, words, and bodies of Black people.
These individuals who swim in waters where mostly Whiteness prevails often feel threatened and insulted by “Black Girl Magic,” “Black Lives Matter,” or “Black Love.”
It begs the question, “What do they want us to do-hate each other? Do they prefer:
Black Girl Misery?
Black Lives Don’t Matter,
or Black Hate?
In a world where Black people have been ever denigrated, I find it grievous when people get upset for Black people choosing to have self-respect, love, and dignity.
What do they want us to have?
I think these individuals prefer Black self-destruction, instead of love, so they can comfortably justify any benefit from racist institutions and point to our lack of love as proof of their deservedness and our lack thereof.
These individuals seem to only see racism in Black people, while ignoring even their own family members who have express racially problematic thinking. Their willful ignorance demonstrates a lack of care about laws, policies, and practices that systemically hurt Black people.
They choose to be ignorant about all of the policies and laws that were simply affirmative action for White people. They ignore that “all men created equal” was White affirmative action in colorblind language.
They can only focus on affirmative action, even though White women have benefitted from it the most. These individuals want the residual perks of White supremacy without being held accountable or looking racist.
Again, Black, People of Color, and White individuals can all support these constructs.
Instead of breaking under these insane conditions, as a testament of resilience, countless Black people have chosen to love ourselves.
Even to dare to love ourselves is a problem for individuals, who think they are spiritual, colorblind and/or loving.
Get out of here.
2. Black Love’s Complicated Side
Black love as a movement can get complicated. Our ocean of Black love has a current of hate flowing through it- a hatred toward White people or anyone who is not Black. In this section, I briefly discuss socio-cultural and socio-political factors influencing and the emergence of this current.
A. Fed Up
Have you ever been fed up? Have you ever been tired of being ignored?
Imagine centuries of political games played at the expense and to the detriment of mostly African-American people.
The nation seems like it does not hear the cries of those murdered, harmed, or mass incarcerated, so people raise their voices.
The response becomes about the loudness of the voices, while ignoring the message.
No wonder various people are tired and downright hateful.
I empathize with Black people who are done with trying.
Can you empathize with Black people who have given up on trying to work with White people because they checked off all the boxes to be successful on the job, only discarded as trash because of the color of their skin?
Can you empathize with those who have tried to be in solidarity with other People of Color only to ever get the short-end of the stick?
And if we dare speak about this phenomenon, we are manipulatively dismissed with terms such as “divisive,” “tribal,” “victim,” “xenophobic,” and “hate.”
Look at how liberal political leaders and Black political leaders readily ignore issues pertaining to African Americans.
Why do these same leaders attempt to shame African Americans for wanting the same kinds of efforts they put towards DACA and DREAMer advocacy? Why do they expect to keep the Black vote and continue ignoring how we have tolerated policies, even the ones that were supposed to remedy systemic inequities against African Americans, that have benefitted White people and immigrants?
It is as if we cannot have a society with structural remedies for both immigrant and African-American groups.
What compounds the pain and frustration is the coldness of those who claim to value life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, but their actions betray them when it is denied, particularly African American or Indigenous People.
Our world struggles with the value of a Black life, and we see it in areas from criminal justice to health care.
Black people, and people of different races, are tired of feeling like we take two steps forward in social progress, only to make several leaps and bounds backward.
B. An Emergence of Hate
Black hate groups have emerged as a response to a country that largely ignores racism and the proliferation of White supremacy in its organized and unofficial forms.
Indeed, there was no Negro Klux Klan trying to maintain Black supremacy post-slavery. We tend to ignore how activist and hate groups are responding to how the United States government treats White supremacist groups like some book club gathering among friends.
And activist groups or Black people coming together to affirm each other are not synonymous with hate groups.
Although Black hate groups are not even close to the scale of White supremacist organizations, I believe it is disingenuous for me to pretend that Black people do not hate, too.
With this being said, a segment of people exists whose cultural pride has become entangled with hatred of White people (or anyone who is not Black). One example are extremist Black nationalists who are Hebrew Israelites.
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), “The belief system of extremist Hebrew Israelites is basically the reversed-color mirror image of the Christian Identity theology embraced by many white supremacists, which holds that mainstream Jews are the descendants of Satan and that white people are the chosen ones, divinely endowed by God with superior status over ‘mud people,’ believers’ term for non-white individuals.”
I have observed this hatred from Black people who are not Hebrew Israelite or involved in official hate groups.
Does returning hate for hate work in the long run?
I doubt it.
Becoming the equal response to bigotry is just more hate in the world.
One group creates one weapon, and another one responds with a bigger, more destructive one. On and on it goes until we have weapons that could wipe out everyone.
I recognize the importance, albeit necessity, of culturally-centered, and sacred contexts for Black people. Some Black people take it farther and demand complete separatism from a group they perceive as biologically evil without hope of redemption. Others even use the Bible to support their beliefs. Sounds like a page from a slave master of times not long ago.
White People in Racial Purgatory
These individuals act as if there is nothing a White person can ever say or do to get out of racial purgatory. Part of this dynamic stems from unresolved individual and collective trauma.
Some Black loving people get angered by White people who challenge racism.
I cannot make this stuff up.
Why would we condemn White people who actually try to end racism?
*Looks up to heaven and cries, “Whyyyyyyyyy?”*
It is as if these particular Black people want White folks to stay racist and promote racist political agenda and maintain racist institutional structures.
I scratch my head, pondering, “Do you want Black people to be oppressed?” Is that Black love?
Identifying as a racial minority does not make everything any of us say or do in response to living a racist society healthy or useful. Just because we are well justified to feel hateful does not mean that sustaining it is healthy and beneficial for our own well-being.
I do not discourage feeling passionate about these issues or suggest that we try to make people feel comfortable when being challenged on these issues.
Experiencing challenges to your worldview feel uncomfortable no matter how the messengers phrase or deliver them. Change feels uncomfortable.
I am addressing the issue of using the veneer of “Black love” as a bandage to cover unhealed wounds.
There is a big difference.
Thus, we can and need to express our emotions. Let’s learn to process them so they do not kill us stress-related illnesses and other problems.
We can have love in our hearts and ever challenge racism or White supremacy.
Black love would not insist on living in ways that kill our own souls. When we live out hate, we reinforce White supremacist bigotry because we allowed this power to control our very being.
True Black love would not keep Black people hostage to hatred. We can pursue social change from a place of taking care of our own mental, physical, spiritual, and financial well-being in the process.
In the same ways that we do not appreciate stereotyping and narrow depiction of our lives through controlled narratives, various “Black love” people do the very same thing to Black people who do not blindly follow an ignorant social discourse.
I contend that true Black love is higher than these hateful ways.
3. The Challenge: Take off the Kente Cloth
Black love requires facing the behaviors that are unloving-destructive to ourselves and each other and then changing.
We can not have real Black love if it involves covering our poo with Kente cloth and calling it Black conscious art.
I suggest we take off the Kente cloth, and remove the pile of human excrement that has been stinking up the joint.
If Black people dare to stand for the dignity and self-empowerment of Black people and our children without mention of White people and racism, the very people who claim to be about Black love have a problem.
I have found that for these people, Black love is more about White hate. I have observed that their Black love is pretty much Democratic talking points from liberal mainstream media.
Otherwise, why get upset for expressing a desire for our children to take advantage of a tax-payer funded education, that not so long ago we were denied access to? It does not ignore the funding disparities in schools. It does not suggest ending affirmative action.
Just because education is not errthang or everything, does not mean I am going to start saying, “Hey, Girls and Boys, stay out of school, sleep around, sell drugs, kill each other, and join gangs in our communities… cuz racism.” I am going to ignore whenever these things happen because I refuse to swallow my racial pride, either.
It is as if the very people who claim to empower Black people promote disempowerment.
I doubt the Black religious, academic, and political leaders who give permission for these behaviors did the opposite in their lives and for their children.
I am not proposing anything new or revolutionary.
For years, many Black people have been (and still) encouraging our children to make sound choices and wisely preparing them for the realities of race in this world.
I believe it is important to promote healthy/productive behaviors among Black people and tackle institutional racism (and racism in different domains).
I am going to say it louder, so y’all can hear me in the back.
I believe it is important to promote healthy/productive behaviors among Black people and tackle institutional racism (and racism in different domains).
Notice the “and.”
It is not the first time I have written about this “and.”
For example, posts like “Sleep Woking Folks (“Stay Woke” Has Issues)” and “Napping While Black: America’s Graduation Gift to High School Seniors” takes up the “and.”
People who are bent on hate or determined in their willful ignorance do not like the “and.”
We can have self-empowering messages as individuals and still challenge the systemic inequities in various societal institutions.
I think it is simple, yet it has been complicated.
Why is it wrong to tell Black children to dream, hope, and achieve? Why is wrong to promote a growth mindset in Black children, too?
It is not victim-blaming to encourage behaviors that will benefit our well-being or our world.
I do not think some us realize that the conflicting indirect message we put out here is: “Whelp, don’t even bother in life because White supremacy.”
Get out of here.
Closing: All Love
We can promote and appreciate Black love without it turning source of bigotry or a way to dish it back to those who promote racism. As a country, we are not there, yet.
The logic that one must continue to stay segregated and separated for ever and ever and ever to prove our Black love or somehow stop White supremacy all on our own as Black people is narrow minded at the least and the possible result of unresolved pain at best.
All progress that has happened so far has not been at the hands of one racial and ethnic group.
If we are truly going to have progress in this world, it will take people working together across differences.
You ain’t gotta marry outside of your race to do it. I am inclined to say it because some people think everybody sleeping with each other is the answer to our problems.
It is not.
The answer is not to create a world record of couples getting their swirl on.
My point is that lasting change involves people who do not look like each other meaningfully coming together with shared vision.
We can have Black love and love for people who are not Black.
There’s that “and” again.
The abolition of slavery, for example, was not just a White or Black effort.
If your idea of Black love requires ignoring self-destructive foolishness out of solidarity, then you are helping White supremacy through self-hate.
Why would Black love ignore those who are about fall off a cliff in order to save face?
I am not about identity politics, I am for real love.
I am for the kind of love that recognizes and challenges both social issues and our own.
The kind that empowers.
The liberating kind.
I love Black people.
I love Black love.
I love people who are different from me beyond shared skin color, too.
I am not going to start hating someone or my husband to please delegates from Wokekanda or Naziburbia.
I’ll skip the hate and keep the love over here.