Lifestyle

This is Not a Trend: Black Love Throughout History

Black love is not a trend, it is a necessity. Black love is black history. It is a love for our ancestors because love was all they had to survive. As we continue to celebrate black history, we wanted to recognize the importance of black love. In 1993, activist Ayo Handy Kendi incorporated National Black Love Day on Feb. 13. Many of us were unaware of this day but it is never too late to celebrate black love. One may ask – Why is black love a thing? By all means, love is for the human race but just like black lives – black love matters in a world that never protected us.

A Love Stolen

Slavery is not the beginning of black history. However, early colonization was the fracture of black families and/or black love. From the time our ancestors stepped foot on North America’s soil, they were separated by slave trades. Our ancestors were denied marriage. If they were lucky enough to get married, the chances of facing dissolution were very high. Many enslaved couples would risk their lives to get married. According to many Slave Narratives in the Articles of Congress – men would risk being “whipped” for visiting a loved one without permission. Enslaved couples would “Jump the Broom” to officiate their marriage. The power of black love during slavery gave many of our ancestors a strong sense of faith and courage.

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Slave narrative about marriage – Articles of Congress

Slave owners would separate enslaved couples due to punishment. By the mid-1800s, however, slave owners saw it fit to marry enslaved couples because it led to more children (slaves). The rate of black marriages doubled compared to white marriages in the 19th century. Once slavery was emancipated, former slave men found themselves with multiple wives because of dissolution. State laws would grant former slave men to remain married – only to the woman with the most children or “the youngest” wife.

With Love Comes War

Black love grew stronger by the 20th century. Family ties were stronger and part of our heritage was restored. Art was heavily influenced by black love. However, there was not a heavy representation of Black Love in mainstream entertainment. Society despised black families but our ancestors remained deeply rooted in love. America never wanted to see black love because it was never meant for us to be free. Black love was a reminder that our ancestors were strong and unbreakable.

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The government found new ways for ” modern-day slavery”. Many black males were separated from their families and placed in prison for crimes never committed. Black families were discriminated against in public housing and faced the horrors of white supremacy. By the late 1960s, many single-family homes began to occur due to the discrimination of black families. Home loans and FHA policies prevented married couples from equal housing opportunities. Many jobs were shut down in most black communities leaving most black families to struggle. This created a statistic for decades to come.

Still, Black Love Rises

Despite all agendas to fracture black love – it is still standing. Our love is fly, multidimensional, and forever beautiful. Black Love is a seed that will always remain in our roots. In the spirit of National Black Love Day, we encourage black men and women to cherish the love for one another including our communities. Black Love is power! Here at MEFeater, we are happy to highlight real black love stories. Please check out the beautiful testaments of what black love means.

Billy (30) and Arionna (27) Memphis, Tn

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Married 6 years

(Billy) We met through a mutual friend and Ari was being thirsty – for me. Our mutual friend prides himself on the love WE have today! We knew after our first date that we were meant to be. Ari was so real and the vibes were undeniable. (Ari) You were literally always on my mind. I didn’t think of people like that so I knew something was different about you…about us.

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(Billy) It’s not just love in a relationship. It’s a love and a genuine feeling between black people, the community. People that embrace their heritage and culture. It’s important because we’re not supposed to be here, this is a foreign land. This love is forbidden to so many, so it’s important to embrace it.  (Ari) Black love is pretty unexplainable to me. It’s not really something I can put into words, it’s a feeling. Love already is a beautiful thing, but how we LOVE so strong and LUST for one another…the s*** is DIFFERENT! I think it’s so important because it is culture, it’s the freeness of being black together in a safe space. Yeah, it’s the safety for me! 

Keyshawn (22) and Ma’Aliya’h (23) – Memphis, Tn

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Newlyweds

It was love at first sight! We attended the “Bring Your Boo” dance class on February 11, 2020 – both single. (Keyshawn) I was there to support a friend and didn’t plan on coming at first. (Liya’h) I’m so glad he did lol. I asked him to be my dance partner and it was an instant connection. There was intense eye contact the entire time I danced for him. As a dancer, I never experienced that before. (Keyshawn) I knew she was the one from the moment I saw her. (Liya’h) Yes, it was love at first sight but I knew it was real once he told me about his son. I didn’t flinch or run away (I’d usually retreat in a situation like this). He was upfront about having a child and didn’t hide it. I respected him a lot because of that.

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Black love is a multitude of things to us. It is uplifting one another and being appreciative. Black Love is honoring your heritage, your history, and loving with your entire soul. Black love can be described the same as love in general, but it includes factors that general love doesn’t. It is important because of our history. Our background is the foundation of how we love. It’s in the way we speak, worship, congregate, even in the way we cook. Hence, the term “soul food”. Food that is prepared with effort and patience. Coming directly from our soul..and from black love.

Akkili (28) and Sunnetta (26) – Baltimore, Maryland

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 Married- 1.5 years 

We met at Middle Tennessee State University in 2012, both majoring in criminal justice. It was a platonic friendship throughout college but we kept in touch post-grad. In March 2019, we began to talk on a daily basis. This allowed us to become more vulnerable than ever. It went from finishing each other sentences to saying I love you before establishing intimacy. We were completely comfortable, it was like seeing the ‘naked’ truth without judgment. Needless to say, we became a couple in April and married in July of 2019. Our motto has been #whenyouknowyouknow.

Black love to us is loving each other, even though the world may not love you. It’s resilient, unconditional, AND powerful. Black love is RAW and could be seen as abstract. It can be viewed differently because Black love is magic. The media/ history doesn’t like to portray it that way. We feel it’s important to celebrate black love and bring awareness to TRUE black love for the generations to come. Who understands us better than us? It’s time to change the narrative and show how strong and unbreakable our love is. Plus our legacy MUST live on. 

Dimitric (27) and Christopher (34) Memphis, Tn

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Two Years of Love

We met on a social dating app and immediately connected. We will never forget the day we met. (Chris) Dimitric was in Memphis visiting for the weekend. I ask him to stop by my job to talk to him. We had a great conversation – from there the rest is history! We always find new moments that make us realize even more that we are meant to be. Our initial one would be during our conversation on that weekend we met. We were on the same page when it came to what we wanted in life and in a partner. (Dimitric) Both of us expressed our feelings and Chris ensured that he was not going anywhere without me. We gave our semi long-distance relationship a shot and two years later here we are!

Our definition of black love – survival, endurance, and foundation of strength. It is empowering one another to live aloud in their truth. Boldness to love freely and giving unconditional support. Black love is important because you have a safe haven inside and outside the world as a black person. Black culture is divinely enriched and to find true love within is something out of this world. We both grew up in households seeing our grandparents truly love each other. They only had each other and showed us how to love by putting God first! In this new age, it is hard to find that type of old black love that was simple yet challenging.

Sean (30) and Katie (31) Nashville, TN

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Together 5 years – Wedding March 2022

We met in college and we were crushing on one another like little schoolyard kids. (Sean) The moment I saw her in a blue dress during Christmas break, I knew she was the one. No one was ever in my corner the way she was so I knew we were meant to be. She gives me the confidence to be myself and know that coming out of my comfort zone is all right. (Katie) The moment I saw him – he really had all of me. He had my heart, my back, and was the most supportive. Sean is a very loving and caring creature in my life. He soothes my soul in a world full of chaos and negativity. 

Our definition of Black love is feeling free with your best friend. Free to be vulnerable – weak at times while the other is strong. Free to be unapologetically goofy, cheesy, and corny. To build and grow together and to hold another accountable. In all, just to be weirdly beautiful.

Frederick (32) Kelly (30) Memphis,TN

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Married 6 months

We met while working at the same school – we’re both educators. It was many small moments from what began as a friendship, and throughout the course of our courtship. Everything came natural and we genuinely enjoyed each other’s company. It’s tough pinpointing ONE moment of knowing it was “meant to be”. We overcame the most difficult of challenges. Our families are the best, they easily welcomed one another. I knew we had a solid partnership from the way Frederick loved my son as his own.

We think black love is a beautiful partnership and friendship between two black people. It is so important because it empowers our communities and generations.

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