By Ntokozo Mayekiso
“Black women are the mules of the world.” Indeed. Society has taught them to underappreciate themselves from their hair, to their skin, their voices, and the importance of their presence in all platforms and spaces. This then acts as a model for thousands of little black girls to come. To add insult to injury, society has taught black men to underappreciate black women in the very same ways they have taught black women to take themselves for granted. Black men are criminals, black men are inherently evil, black men are selfish, black men have no interest in uplifting and building their communities, black men are savages – these are the images of black people that have been shoved down our throats and have stood the test of time.
So, what is black love? A rarity. Because the idea of a harmonious bond between black womxn and men has been depicted as unfathomable, for many a black man, black woman, black people, black love is a rarity. On our television screens, we are exposed to this in the form of The Jerry Springer Show, Cheaters, Maury, Khumbul’ekhaya, Please Step in and even Love and Hip Hop with its endless franchises (although I must admit, it is a guilty pleasure of mine). Black love is in fact, a rarity – but how is society trying to change that?
Titled “Black love,” a new BET produced series by black couple Tommy and Cody Alison, explores black love by featuring celebrity black couples that challenge stereotypes surrounding black romantic relationships.
Among many celebs featured on the show are actress Megan Good and her pastor bae DeVon Franklin, songstress Chrisette Michelle and her husband Doug Ellision, Viola Davis and her husband Julius Tennon, as well as Hip Hop couple Remy Ma and Papoose. I loved hearing the anecdotes about how these couples met and how it is they celebrate “black love,” this unfathomable experience in the lens of society. I myself, as a black woman, started to entertain the possibility of this concept. It filled me with pride, it gave me hope and more importantly, I felt represented.
Then I started to notice a pattern which led me to wonder “is black romantic love, solely heterosexual?” And if so, then why?
Ah, another pattern sprung out at me, most of the stories shared by these couples were grounded in some system of belief, primarily Christianity. So, I felt represented yes, but I felt represented as a black cis-gendered woman who is a believer. Black love, is it limited to Christianity and heteronormativity? No. It ought not to be.
Whilst shows such as these are amazing in what they depict and promote, they are limited. “Black love” (in my opinion), should be welcomed in all its forms. This includes the LGBTQI+ community; it includes black mother and child, black father and child, black siblings, black sisterhood without the hairpulling, backstabbing, jealousy anger or bitterness that is so rife in reality shows, black brotherhood with no expectation of ridicule or fear of being labelled “soft” in the act of vulnerability. Black love ought to be a celebration, a party to which all its guests are invited – not a limited definition or cookie-cutter mould that trims away at the excess of people who do not fit it. Perhaps then, when we start to think of black love in all its possible forms, we’ll find that it’s not a rarity at all.