If you watch Maury, black love is dysfunctional, careless, and rooted in lust. The same can be said for many other “reality” television shows from court series to VH1 shows that anchor themselves in portraying the black man and black woman as hyper-sexual entities incapable of functioning in their shared state of incivility.
The black woman is often depicted is mentally unstable, hyper-sexual, and evil— a force that emasculates the black man and prompts his desire to crawl back into the womb via sexual promiscuity. The white media consistently portrays the black woman and man as two pieces of a puzzle that just cannot fit together.
Enter producers, and black power couple, Tommy and Codie Oliver and their docu-series Black Love. This OWN documentary does not function to extinguish the stereotypes of black love, but to prove its possibility and vitality–deeming the documentary a well-executed pro-black initiative.
The documentary surfaces at an interesting time time–a time where injustice is blatant and inevitably hard to ignore—prompting many to get involved in protests, organizations and other means to confront cultural conflict. As a result, the revolution is often over-simplified as focusing on a single issue and overlooking the power of who you choose to love.
Black love is an understated revolutionary act dismissed in the contemporary world’s colorblind initiative guised as the antidote to contemporary conflict. This initiative not only inevitably imbues black erasure, but reflects the mental bludgeoning of the black mind that proves a platform for systemic abuse of the black body.
In merging the black body together romantically, the black collective incurs dual conflict—but in turn becomes stronger as a unit.
To say yes to black love is to don the strongest armor in confronting racism. To embark on black love is to ignore all the self-hatred embedded in society and choose to love yourself. It is to see the best in blackness when every aspect of western culture prompts blacks to see the worst in themselves. To choose black love is to refuse to enter the white man’s house through the back door—to build your own house that is large enough to walk through the front door with your head held high.
Black love is an understated revolutionary act and for this reason the Codie’s documentary is not only greatly appreciated, but a cultural necessity.
The docu-series features multiple black couples—most of which have been together for at least a decade. This fact alone is a testament to the ability of black love to function despite the racial climate of North America.
The couples that proved the most resonant to me were Cory and Tia Hardrict, Viola Davis and Julius Tennon, and Meagan Good and Devon Franklin. Here’s why:
Viola and Julius, like Tia and Cory illustrate the non-glamorous facet of black love. Viola’s recollection of informing her soon to be husband of her bad credit was comical but also very honest. Whether its “bad” credit, a “bad” romantic past, “bad” finances, or a “bad” familial structure— the black body commonly has a severed relationship with conventionality—so “bad” is a given. It is often this “bad” that drives a wedge between blacks—due to an inability to conceptualize how American culture is designed to deteriorate both the black individual or the black collective with concepts like “bad.”
I similarly enjoyed how Tia and Cory shared their humble beginnings. Specifically, Cory shared that he did not have a lot of money when he and Tia got married or when they began dating. The black woman out-earning the black man is a cruel truth and strategic means to implement black female success to emasculate the black male. Therefore, Tia and Cory depict the ability of black love to unit despite circumstances the exist to divide them.
Although conventionally successful at the time of their initial meeting, Meagan Good and Devon Franklin illustrate the significance of stepping outside of your comfort zone as both had sworn off attributes that defined their future spouse.
Also, Meagan Good— as a black woman extolled for her beauty—illustrates that external beauty is not necessarily a gateway to finding love. Rather, love blossoms when an individual is valued for their inner beauty.
Good’s husband, Devon Franklin delivered the docu-series most resounding line with the following:
“As a single man I was good, but as a married man I’m great.”
He also goes on to say that many men feel as though they must conquer the world prior to marriage, but dispels this idea by saying that men can conquer the world with the right woman. For black men this “right” woman is a black woman.
Furthermore, black love not only improves the individual, but elevates the black collective. Together we encompass the necessary strength to conquer the world.
For this reason, the black woman in an interracial relationship was the low of this docu-series, as it depicts weakness in an otherwise distinctive portrait of black strength.
Two other points of criticism, are colorism and the absence of the intersectional existence. Colorism is an obvious component in the series, in that a good portion of the couples feature a racially ambiguous woman, or a woman whose complexion is the binary opposite to her partner’s hue. This is a portrayal commonly seen on sitcoms, and films depicting black people—which embeds the ideology that lighter skin makes women more desirable. This colorism facet is perhaps most prevalent because the couples are products of Hollywood, where the paper bag test is alive and well–especially for black woman.
Featuring Hollywood couples, or a facet of a Hollywood subgroup like producer, writer, etc functions to humanize couples that we as a collective have grown to love over the years. However, I do think the docu-series’ motif is perhaps best implemented by “every-day” couples of various professions and circumstances, as black hollywood couples, while bearing resonant and uplifting anecdotes, caricature blackness in a bubble of entertainment in a way that non-Hollywood couples do not.
It is also very important to note that while black on the outside, these Hollywood couples do not live a life common to the average black person, and may not even consider themselves black aside from going for roles designated for black people. Thus, this depiction, although surely well-intentioned, makes the docu-series depiction of actual black couples mannequin-like and less palpable.
The docu-series also omits same-sex black couples, disabled blacks, black couples crippled by poverty, and elderly couples—to name a few identity intersections absent from this portrait of black love. Because blackness is all-encompassing, it is imperative that we include as much from our faction as possible to ensure that other subgroups do not seize those of our collective for their own selfish gain. Knowledge is also an essential component of black esteem. Cognizance of the many folds of blackness functions to enlighten the black collective to all that they are—it is said knowledge that thwarts the western idea that blacks have and are nothing.
Nevertheless, the docu-series elevates black love from obscurity to a seat at the the table of contemporary conversation, educating an eager audience to the value of black love. The series also prompts a discourse for determining what exactly black love is.
Defining black love is subject to interpretation, but it is of great significance that we as a collective understand that black love is far more than two black people in love.
Two melanated people in love merely breeds an assimilatory lifestyle in which blackness is a happenstance not a beloved marker of those destined to fulfill a higher purpose. Black love ensures that we as a collective not only physicaly survive, but mentally thrive.
Black love a beautiful struggle, a purposeful endeavor, an undervalued union.
How would you describe black love? And, do you have a black love story?
Black Power ❤