So What Exactly Is “Black Love”?

Yesterday I wrote a post about Barack and Michelle and their love shining bright. They let their souls glo…and shine through. It’s a beautiful thing.

Well in the course of writing that post, I mentioned the term “Black love” quite a few times and began to ask myself what that actually meant. Now, for the purposes of most conversations in the community, saying Black love usually doesn’t require a definition. It’s like pr0n, it might be hard to define but folks know it when they see it. There’s never really been a need to place any boundaries or limits on the term. Conversely, I don’t think most of us really think about how deep the idea is in and of itself.

The concept of Black anything has always been an interesting. I’m no expert on any other culture and I’m sure I’ll be corrected on this, but Blackness is one of the few areas of most of us colored lives that gets questioned constantly. Not being Black enough is a real shot at somebody’s character. And it usually means that you’re attempting to be white. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. If that’s who you are then that’s who you are. But nobody every says, you’re being too Latino or Chinese to a Black person. Naw, you’re just not Black enough. Does that happen to Latinos, Asians, etc? Are super proper speaking Asian kids sellouts? I doubt it.

Point is, Blackness is complicated and always will be. So the concept of Black love can’t be simple right?

If two Black people are dating or married and in love, does that, by default constitute Black love? Is seeing a woman pick up her son and give him a kiss on the cheek…is that Black love? Or two good friends doing the Black man handshake-hug combo that I’ve seen so many other ethnicities f*ck up with tremendous aplomb.

Seriously, why is that sh*t so difficult. I’m not saying that we, The Blacks, are just more dexterous and athletic than everybody else, but we definitely have coordination on lock. You know what, we’re more athletic too. It takes a real athlete to do some of these handshakes we do. In high school, me and two of my best friends had a 15-step handshake. It was as ridiculous as it sounds. I promise.

Is that Black love? I mean the dedication and loyalty we exacted in order to efficiently bust out that handshake? We were committed to one another because who the hell else would we be able to do that? That’s got to be it right?

In truth, I think the entire concept of Black love is just that…a concept. Its those horrendously cliche ass pictures that you see being sold in mall kiosks with some naked, rippled Black man holding some naked nubian black woman with their bodies intertwined. While I’d never ever put that type of picture up in my house – my tastes are a bit more discerning than that – I get why they exist. Black love is the ideal of unity and togetherness. It’s this ideal of strength shared between two people attempting to reach a common goal…

…which would explain why we care so much about the idea since, community wise, we have some serious issues with each one of those principles. That explains why seeing Barack and Michelle is an example because they look like they represent all of those things as a unit.

Hell, they’re a unit. My guess is that other ethnicities don’t necessarily dwell on the ideal because they don’t have to. Clearly those goals exist in other communities and are the bedrock for a long-lasting relationship, but for some reason, I do think we place more of a premium on those things in the Black community likely because of our shared history. We may not be monolithic but that history of ours can’t stop and won’t stop. Then again they said that about Rocafella Records and you see how that turned out.

There’s something about Mary…but Blackness has certain complex simplicity about it. No Teedra. That’s why we throw Black in front of so many things. Black power, Black love, Black box…was a good group, Black music, Black black. I’m not completely sure what they all mean but they all mean something. And it’s something that nearly all Black folks, even those of us who spurn most things of the diaspora, can acknowledge and accept.

But I ask of you, folks who love to wax poetic and philosophical, what exactly is Black love? Is there a definition or perfect example or do you just know it when you see it? And if you’re white or other…what do you think? Let’s talk shop.


The Definition?

I am Panama Jackson.

I am many things to many people and I am nothing to a lot of people. To many of you I’m black letters on a white background, and to others I’m a confidante and party animal extraordinaire who brings the party when he shows up and takes it with him when he leaves.

I am a son and a father. I’m a boyfriend and a partner (no Siegfried). I cry in the dark and I put my hands where your eyes can see.

I am a Black man.

And yet sometimes I don’t even know what that means. I know what comes with being a man. I’ve been that all my life. And while I’ve been Black all my life it means different things in different places to different people. To some being a Black man means being a monster and a boogie man that will take your Girl Scout and her cookies and leaver her looking like a wilted dandelion. To others I’m an object of study, an odd fascination and curiosity upon which studies and fear campaigns have been built.

My goal is to be a positive light in a community where some of the worst get all the shine. As a Black man in today’s day and age I walk a fine line between street corner hustler and corporate boardroom participant and leader. I live amongst men with nothing and no reason to continue other than to spite death. But I work among men whose sole purpose in life is to grow powerful enough that only God could command more respect.

I am on the lookout because at work I am the same person I avoid in the streets.

I am fear and pain but I’m love and compassion. My community means the world to me even if at times it refers to me as an outsider using its resources for my own personal gain. Ironic considering that my own personal gain is esteem at the hands of another’s lack thereof.

I am a brother and a mentor. I am an uncle and nephew. I’m a role model and a cautionary tale. I’m somebody’s strength and an infrequent picture of weakness. I’m a southerner with northern tendencies, raised conservatively with liberal leanings, and a bringer of the ruckus while usually hoping the problem resolves itself.

I’m strong when necessary yet unappreciative of rodents in my space. I’m a dreamer and a realist. I struggle with raising a child in a world I want while praying for change in the world in which I reside. I’m afraid of the police but rebellious in the face of unregulated authority.

I am a Black man with insecurities but unafraid of life. I appreciate The Doors as much as I appreciate Jay-Z. Ahmad Jamal introduced me to the piano and Eazy-E introduced me to the keys. I’ve got soul and I’ve got rhythm. I dance when I hear music even if no music is playing.

I’m like Che Guevara with bling on, I’m complex. But I’m transparent.

I’m too sexxy for my shirt, so sexxy it hurts. And I’m shy.

I shine on stage while fading into the background.

I’m Timbalands in the summer time and Chuck Taylor’s in the winter. I’m Kenneth Cole and Banana Republic. I’m tall socks and dog tags.

I’m fashion and an oddball. I’m the coolest geek ever. I’m the coolest cat you’ve never met.

He is I, and I am him. Slim with the tilted brim.

I’m the star of the story.

I am a lot and nothing. I’m something and a nobody. I believe I can fly even though I’ve never left the ground.

I go up on the downstroke but I’m down by law.

I’m Panama Jackson and I’m a Black man.

We talked yesterday about what a grown a** Black man needs to succeed in life, but we never defined a Black man.

How do you define a Black man?

Talk to me.