Wednesday, October 22, 2014

What is Black Love?

January 20, 2010 by  
Filed under relationships

What is Black Love? A simple woman like me would suggest that it is the love between a black man and a black woman. Perhaps that’s why there is such an uproar about Essence’s Black Love Issue with New Orleans Saints player Reggie Bush. For those of us not up on pop culture paparazzi news, the very handsome Reggie Bush is involved with reality TV vixen Kim Kardashian, who is not black.

Black women were offended and slightly miffed (to put it mildly). Me, I was slightly annoyed, but not offended.

The offense?

For some black women, perhaps it was interracial dating overall. I don’t have a foot squarely in that camp.

For others, it was the suggestion that Black Love wasn’t necessarily between a black man and a black woman. You might have my interest on that point.

Over at the Black Youth Project, Tamara makes a key observation…how does one define Black Love? And are black women a part of that equation?:

If we continue to expand the notion of Black Love so that it includes interracial relationships, the concept begins to erode, particularly, for Black women. We are the ones who will be pushed to the margins if the concept is expanded. Men are privileged enough to tell us that we shouldn’t be so concerned about our fading presence in the Black Love equation which simultaneously pushes the idea that we aren’t qualified to be in the equation at all. Where does that leave us?

So are we hung up on a definition or hung up on being removed from the equation?

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  • Nic_Mac

    The whole Essence cover bray is fascinating. Essence does not fully represent the interests of a lot of black women. I can tell you that I hear more often “I cancelled my subscription long ago”… than I hear…”did you see so and so in Essence this month”. It just doesn't seem to strike the same chord within our spirits as it used to. That said… Reggie Bush is fine. His lady, as beautiful as she is, is simply not black. The issue isn't about whether or not interracial dating is acceptable. The issue is that for a magazine geared toward black women, we aren't celebrating loving black women with him on the cover. Now, if it were a different month and not the black love issue, maybe this would not have been that much of a problem. But, considering that Essence has on its website brothers who have proposed to their girlfriends… and yet when it came time for the cover, they couldn't find a black man who is actively loving a black woman. Adding insult to injury is that the pictures are recycled photos from another mag's photo shoot.

    I get it that the magazine industry is struggling. And I totally understand that the magazine has to do what it has to do to stay afloat and survive. But in the midst of their struggle with staying afloat, I have to answer to my own struggle with keeping my self-esteem and dignity in tact. With the constant push in the media towards the theme of “black women just won't ever get married” and the underlying notion to that being…because we're pining away for black men who are turning away from us in droves (not sure whether that is true or not)… its sort of ridiculous to think a black woman would embrace this cover as acceptable.

    Everything in the media right now is telling us that its our unwavering desire for a black man that is leaving so many of us unmarried and alone. So, why Reggie Bush? (besides the obvious chocolate-y yumminess) Why not Will Smith? Or some other celebrity/athlete with a black wife and a stable relationship? I'd rather hear from Magic Johnson about how he and Cookie have survived… than to eye-spy on cute Reggie Bush.

  • KC

    I don't want to get all “nit-picky” but where does it say “Black Love” on the cover? It says “Black men, love & relationship issue.” The reality is that there are Black men who love non-Black women. I don't see this as a referendum on relationships among Black men and women, it's just a choice. I don't know when we as Black women became so insecure and in need of validation that Essence magazine could cause us so much hurt and pain by putting a celebrity on its cover but damn. We need to get over ourselves. Essence magazine- that ya'll claim not to read or subscribe to has that much power over your life and emotions? Give me a break.

  • Ms. Eye

    I personally think that we should protect the state of our unions. We hold the key to our future just like Jewish women hold the key to their future. Love is love, but my concern is which love will last the test of time and continue the tradition. I think men who marry outside their race are weak.

  • http://www.blackgirlgrown.com blackgirlgrown

    Thanks – Ladies for your comments.

    KC – Point taken and noted on the magazine not explicitly saying “Black Love” Issue. It did give me pause as I was contemplating the post. However, I have always known it as the “Black Love” issue and I'm not quite sure how it's been written in past years. That being said, it is generally regarded as the “Black Love” issue.

    My thought process on interracial dating has matured (as a lot of my beliefs have transitioning from my 20s to my 30s). That is not what I take exception to. To each, his or her own.

    However, pictures capture the imagination at lightening speed much faster than words do. And there seemed to be a disconnect between the two.

    And the idea of “what is Black Love” is much deeper than skin color. To me, and to many, it is about a shared common experience – whether you are Black, Jewish, White, whatever. However, the idea of a shared common experience among any demographic is fleeting – and perhaps less important to some. I think that is PART of what the response to the cover is about. That “black love” encompasses a shared common experience.

    And I don't think that it is about black women needing validation, but more so about whether Essence was tone death to its readers. Do I read Essence? On occasion. It is not out of a “protest” though I have taken issue with their perspectives over the years. Simply, my focus and interests are not necessarily reflected in the magazine.

  • KC

    Continue the tradition of what? And why are we so concerned with other people and their lives? The article isn't talking about Black divorce rates or threats to Black marriages. It isn't talking about Black people leaving their spouses for other races. The problem is not protecting our unions, it is getting them to happen in the first place. There are fewer marriages in general, these days. Black people, men and women, marry, in general, less often than other races. But, we do have babies out of wedlock and we shack up. But rather than address these issues we want to fault people who actually choose to make it official and get married because “we” think they are weak for marrying someone “we” think is the wrong color? Sounds like misplaced attention to me.

  • http://www.blackgirlgrown.com blackgirlgrown

    KC – You and I are actually in agreement.

    Everything you just mentioned is “understood” and the foundation (the sky is blue, grass is green) of any discussion on any number of topics facing the African American community whether it's relationships, education, health care disparities, youth violence, you name it. Don't misunderstand just because it is not written that all of us are not conscious of that before we even begin to speak. It is through this lens that we see the world around us.

    Notwithstanding the carping about interracial relationships – that wasn't the intended focus for discussion, do you think there is a such thing as “black love?”

  • KC

    BGG- my last comment posted late- I was responding to Ms. Eye. I see that we are in agreement. I think that there is such a thing as Black Love, but it simply signifies love between or among Black people. I think that love between black men and women, when positive, and really when it leads to marriage is important to our community, mainly because marriage rates within the Black community are low.

    But, BGG you're right- Essence messed up. They clearly do not know or do not care about their core customer base. I personally think it's a little silly to create a name for all the different ethnic/racial love pairings that are out there, but if we're going to say Black Love, let's keep it Black for clarity. I mean, this isn't a club you can join, either you're Black or you're not, that's pretty clear. That being said, I don't think that Black Love relates to the love we share. I don't think our love is so special or unique that it deserves its own name. Because really, we aren't selecting out for bad relationships etc, we're just saying that any pairing of Black people is Black Love. I have never said to my husband “I Black Love you.”

    I looked up some stats and found that only about 5% of Black people marry outside of the race. We have just been so manipulated by the media (like Essence) and seeing Tiger Woods and Kobe Bryant that we think interracial marriages occur more often than they do or that non-Blacks are a threat to our cultures and traditions. This stat doesn't account for just plain old dating or shacking up, but I think this shows that in terms of marriage, there isn't a major threat to our concept of Black Love remaining strictly between Black people.

  • Nic_Mac

    To KC's point about the statistics about interracial relationships with black people… I think it makes it just that much worse that Essence chose Reggie Bush for the cover. I think that dating, loving, marrying whomever floats your boat irrespective of race is perfectly fine and acceptable. But isn't it tired that we're constantly being attacked with the image and topic of black women who aren't marrying? I think that black love is whatever love exists for and with a black person. I also think that a magazine whose target demographic is black women should seriously do a gut-check about what matters most to that group. Images of black women being loved is something I would love to see more of. Stories that focus less on celebrities and more on substance would be even better.

  • Nic_Mac

    To KC's point about the statistics about interracial relationships with black people… I think it makes it just that much worse that Essence chose Reggie Bush for the cover. I think that dating, loving, marrying whomever floats your boat irrespective of race is perfectly fine and acceptable. But isn't it tired that we're constantly being attacked with the image and topic of black women who aren't marrying? I think that black love is whatever love exists for and with a black person. I also think that a magazine whose target demographic is black women should seriously do a gut-check about what matters most to that group. Images of black women being loved is something I would love to see more of. Stories that focus less on celebrities and more on substance would be even better.