Firstly, sorry I was away for a while, I had EEOC and police/Internal Affairs stuff to attend to.
Now onward with the post!
Throughout Black culture, there is the idea of “Black Love”, which is very pure in concept: Two Black people in a gentle, calm and strong relationship that features a strong Black man that takes the helm of everything, is the protector and provider of the home, and a strong and intensely supportive Black woman who is always behind him, taking care of all home business: rearing the children, keeping the home non-chaotic and making sure that any drama is quickly vanquished.
This belief is very common in pro-Black circles as an aspiration of what to attain, it’s also common in general mainstream Black culture as an ideal relationship for Black men and women. The idea bores from the belief that “no one else likes us or cares about us so we may as well support each other”, a rejection of universal anti-Blackness. This is a great idea but it’s exactly that: not reality. It’s also warped and modified primarily as a purport for Black masculinity since it is rarely, if ever, non-hetero in its depictions and does not really allow women to have much agency. That and it’s basically the 1950’s American nuclear family ideal painted black and a little ankh hung somewhere for decoration.
On its face, the concept of “Black love” is a very beautiful one. It’s smiling Black couples on the cover of countless Black magazines, usually the woman holding a baby or the couple talking about children. They’re financially well off, they have a home, a car and a world of their own. They could make a White person on the street gag in absolute horror and switch from Sanders and Hillary to Trump in a heartbeat just by walking down the street, hand-in-hand and joyful. They’re an active and passive defiance of many dehumanizing anti-Black stereotypes and offensive to any and many who believe those stereotypes.
But in practice, it’s a very complicated and very hard to exemplify concept that is filled with more problems than beauty. And it’s no hidden secret, countless books have been penned on this subject, especially from the womanist and Black queer perspective.
“True” Black Love does not leave much room for Black women to be individualistic people. It shows stark similarities to 19th century Victorian beliefs of a woman’s place to be an “angel in the house”: The cultural idea to not pursue “masculine” things like heavy careers and individuality because it’s her job to make a “man feel like a man” – as if the man is absolutely incapable of normal human feelings and developing mental and emotional securities by themselves due to (entirely fictitious and scientifically bogus) biological beliefs. If the man left or cheated on the woman, the accusations usually hover around how she wasn’t emotionally supportive or simply caused too much trouble with her own life happenings and therefore, it made perfect sense the dude is going to run off to the next chick that can take care of him like a mother (that gives blowjobs).
The woman desiring a career can be seen as a threat to the “Black Love” relationship – unless it can directly or indirectly benefit the man somehow via paying his bills, giving him supplemental income, basically supporting him instead of a 50/50 relationship. This happens a lot in Black relationships – not in every, of course, but enough to be a well-known concept all on its own. The goal of the woman in “Black Love” is supposed to be that of “Support Black man, have kids, basically be a Black June Cleaver”. If the man cheats, she’s supposed to welcome him back as the angel in the house and get mad only at the woman (or “women”) he cheated on her with for pulling him from pious, Abrahamic monogamy down the deep road of lust. If the man is not there for her emotionally, she is supposed to be okay with that because he’s a man and thus has more important matters to attend to than how his partner feels because it will support the whole somehow – even if it doesn’t help or support her personally, emotionally or mentally. Because women issues never matter and Black women are supposed to be made of spun steel, not capable of vulnerabilities. A “Real” Black woman in a “True” Black Love relationship is supposed to hold her man down: keep his secrets, put up with his many, many, many flaws and be grateful that she has a Black man to have and to hold. She’s the evolved version of the “Ride or Die” chick. And she is depressed, unloved and insecure – but told to always be a giver and never a taker because the Black man already has enough strife due to systemic oppression.
“True” Black Love somehow holds no room for non-hetero relationships. Actually, the opposite. Lesbian “True” Black Love relationships seems mythical and gay “True” Black Love seems to be a mockery on the concept altogether because of the conjunct of homophobic and misogynist beliefs. Monogamy is seen as a must in “True” Black Love, there’s is no room for polyamory, (unless cheating and only if the guy does it because he’s “just being a man”). It appears to be also a must that the expression of “True” Black Love can only be between a man and a woman because it is a copy of the White American nuclear family of the 1950s…which actually makes sense given that the concept was newly crafted in the Pro-Black movements of the ’60s and 70s. There doesn’t even seem to be room for bi-people. Either you’re straight as a rod or you’re not Black.
Long story short, it seems the rigid idea of “Black Love” is more of a myth than an actual experience. Does it mean that Black Love doesn’t exist? No. Not at all. There are plenty of successful Black relationships all over the world that doesn’t dissolve into dysfunction and tragedy. Plenty of Black couples who never cheat on each other, plenty of Black couples who equally work together as a duo and not as a lopsided partnership, plenty of Black couples of various gender pairings that are making it work. Because they’re a couple. And that’s what couples do to make a relationship work. They’re not perfect – like the people in the relationships – but they’re making it work…because it’s worthwhile.
Relationships should be worthwhile and healthy. It is unhealthy to be a Black person in a relationship with another Black person and sticking it through because you don’t want to show society yet another failed Black family/relationship. While the effort is truly valiant, it’s ultimately worthless because instead it’s just the person with the ideal getting hurt. It’s basically like continually hitting your head against a brick wall in front of a passing crowd because you want to prove that bone is actually quite strong with sufficient calcium. Some will note, most won’t and you’re still going to have the random dink in the crowd going, “I dunno, I’m gonna believe that Facebook post about how I can get all my nutrients from the sun.” In the end, you’re just going to have a gnarly headache and not much to show for it. The ideal of “True” Black Love is no reason to be with someone who cheats, is emotionally vacant or otherwise disrespectful because, frankly, that’s not love at all. That’s being conditioned to accept abuse as normalcy hidden under the super thin veneer of “Pro-Blackness”. It’s not love at all if someone doesn’t respect you as a person or keeps coming up with excuses, temper tantrums or trying to control you as part of a relationship.
There’s a justifiable reason why there is pressure to want to have a Black Love relationship but it’s all pointless if you’re with someone that doesn’t suit you. I’ve seen this more with Black women than I have seen this with Black men. Countless times I’ve read and been told of cheatings, beatings and emotional abjectivity. And pretty much all of them stayed because “He’s just being a man” or “I have to support my king” or “I don’t want another Black relationship to fail”. Basically, they all were brought up in the ideals of “True” Black Love and pretty much suffered for it. When the dude would get called out, of course, here came the “I’m sorry”, “I need to be a better man” and other lukewarm fibs just to keep the woman around. That’s unacceptable and unjustifiable, completely.
It should take more than “they have the same skintone as me” as a reason to stay. Yes, actual Black love is very important because there’s enough anti-Blackness to drown a ship, but using a hyper-idealistic version suits no one better at all. Instead of aspiring for “true” Black love, just aspire for a very healthy relationship between two Black people. There is no reason to use a relationship to express a point or idea, just enjoy the other person’s presence the best you can. When two Black folks who love each other genuinely and are best friends with each other, that should be the “True” Black Love ideal.