“Everything wanna be loved. Us sing and dance, and holla just wanting to be loved.” Alice Walker, “The Color Purple”
You know what I reject? Lil Wayne being the professor of love. He can’t teach anyone how to love. Not anyone that I want to love me. The fractures in the structure of black love did not begin with a polyamorous rapper with questionable life practices (Not judging as much as I’m highlighting the issue). We all know how difficult it is to be Black in america, but what about being in love as a Black American?
Love should not be defined any differently when examined under superficial differences such as race. However, as with anything taken under the microscope while examining Black Americans, there are real differences in how Black couples relate to one another and how non-Black couples do so.
A very honest video on Black Love:
As the child of never married parents, I never had a positive or negative view of what it took to be a black person in love. Actually, I had no view and that is the sad testament to the messages I received about being in love. I didn’t grow up thinking of babies and marriage. I didn’t want to emulate my mother’s life in any way. What I saw and internalized is that black fathers don’t stay with black mothers. They moved onto new women, only to create new children who would inevitably be left behind one day as well. This is not to speak against step-parenting or half-siblings as I had a wonderful step-father and siblings who did not grow up beside me in my mother’s house but still have the full extent of my love as a sister. As an observant child who also was very intuitive, I took all of these cues into adulthood. Far into adulthood. White fences, a husband, and a sustained family were not something I dreamed of. The only dreams I had were to get an education to exist on a somewhat better playing field than either of my parents. Love had no place in those goals. Single motherhood definitely was not on that list.
And yet, although I’ve done everything I set out to do (with plenty more to yet accomplish), I’ve also done things that resemble the childhood I ran from. I am now like my mother, single with a little girl who is taking cues from me. The difference being that I am hyper aware of how responsible I am for shaping her life for the future. I want her to have a husband and children, if that’s what she truly wants. I would love for that stability to exist for her now, especially now. Growing up with my single mother I was always waiting for the other shoe to drop. Without my father in the house, I had no true security. I never felt completely safe to relax. I was an oversensitive little girl who couldn’t take my eyes off of my mother for a second for fear that she wouldn’t be there after I looked away. We had financial troubles and lived in not so safe living conditions. There was very real shame. I don’t know if my father being in the house would have made a difference, but I wish that I had the opportunity to know. I never did. We never lived as a cohesive family unit after my first birthday. I don’t have those memories. What I do have is a yearning for what could and should have been. I hate that I’ve given my daughter the same situation. I know there are black fathers who marry mothers before and after the children are born. I know that there are black mothers who love their husbands and children. I know it exist beyond the television but it took me years to finally believe so. Years.
I am so proud that there are images out there of black families beyond fictional television shows. The most powerful black man in the free world is a husband and father to two black young women. That is a powerful image for us. Education starts in the home. Mine did. What I can give to my daughter is the truth. I can answer questions that she has or point her in a direction to seek her own answers.
If love were easy beyond just wanting to be inside its warmth, couples would stay in tact. Families, too. But it’s not. You can’t be responsible for anyone or anything other than oneself. Commitment is not something that people invest in. It’s easier to move on instead of through it. There are egos, pathologies, childhoods, and a multitude of things that contribute to why a person is who they are, and why they function as they do. And there are so many damaged people who have no idea how damaged they are who then link up with other damaged people who then create damaged children. It is an epidemic that reaches into the larger problems in society.
It begins with self-awareness. A raw digging. Making better choices. The maternal mirrors from which I took my image taught me many things, good and bad. The most important though, the one that allows a certain knowledge that I can raise my daughter successfully is that they each did so. In and out of love, they raised us up into a generation with scars but also with the capability to do better. The only true lesson I can teach about love is that loving oneself genuinely will allow for genuine love to enter one’s life. Had I listened to my better mind and instincts, the ghosts of yesterday, I wouldn’t be a single mother but everything in our paths comes as it comes. There is still a great love story to be lived. That is the optimism I carry into tomorrow. I would like that not only for me but also for this little girl whose eyes never leave me. By the time she’s my age, I hope that what she saw in me gave her the ability to love and be loved with immeasurable capacity.