Black Love Is More Revolutionary Than Ever
Love has sustained us through generations of systemic oppression
There is a movement sweeping the nation that will change the course of history. Amid a perfect storm of events, including a viral pandemic and the extrajudicial killings of unarmed Black people by the police, people in the United States have been activated in the fight for social change in a way some historians and elder activists say they have never seen or experienced before. Longtime activists are creating the spaces in which those newer to the fight can come and protest, educate themselves, and provide material resources to a fight that’s been going on for centuries. This is a moment.
People are tired. Black people, especially, are beyond exhausted from lifetimes of carrying the weight of racist tyranny. We are tired of being dehumanized. In the words of Fannie Lou Hamer, we are sick and tired of being sick and tired. And yet we still continue to fight for liberation from racial oppression and freedom for our people. Every generation, a new cavalry of activists pick up the torch and take to the streets, continuing along the paths carved out by the freedom fighters before them. This work isn’t easy and can be downright debilitating; we need to hold onto whatever we have in our lives that is positive and sustains us. What we have, in seemingly unlimited supply, is love, and it is the love of our people and our hope for the future that motivates us to keep going forward.
“Unless one lives and loves in the trenches, it is difficult to remember that the war against dehumanization is ceaseless.“—Audre Lorde
Love fortifies us in other ways, though, specifically the intimate kind of love that offers us a soft place to land at the end of an emotionally exhausting day. It’s the love that rubs our feet after hours of protest and washes our clothes after they’ve been drenched in pepper spray or coated in tear gas. This divine love wipes away our angry tears and listens to us when we scream “Fuck the police!!” until our throats are raw. Even more, it is the love that shows up right beside us when we can no longer stay home or stay silent. It holds our hands, reassures us that we’re on the right side of history, and strengthens us when we find ourselves in doubt. How do we make sure that we are providing the type of love and support our partners need during this tumultuous time?
Words hold power
If you’re like me, you’ve woken up several times in the past couple months asking yourself, “Is it Tuesday or Wednesday?” Many of us have been so disoriented that we barely remember our names, much less what day it is. Being thrown off like this can cause us to forget to let the people we love know that we love them, value them, and need them around. When was the last time you held your lover’s face in your hands, stared them in the eyes, and said, “I love you with everything I have”? Words of affirmation can be vital to someone who feels like they’re teetering on the edge. “I value your life.” “I need you to survive.” “You are welcome to lean on me and draw strength from me until you can get back to where you need to be.”
Knowledge is power
If you haven’t been as involved with the current movement and feel you’re lacking knowledge around issues like police brutality, calls to defund the police, or even Breonna’s Law, which recently passed, now is the time to do it. This can be something you take on together and make sure you’re both aware of what’s happening right now. If you aren’t a person of color but your partner is, especially if they are Black, Latinx, or Indigenous, you taking keen interest in educating yourself about their struggles with police is more important now than ever before. You owe it to your partner to show that you’re willing to listen, learn, and be supportive and do so in tangible ways.
You can spend time together looking up bail funds to make donations and finding social media accounts to follow, focusing on women of color who have been doing grassroots and digital organizing for several years. This is the time to have those in-depth conversations about how racism in the United States affects your relationship and, if you have children or plan to have them, how you two will come together to work out a plan to protect and empower them.
“Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.” — Audre Lorde
Embrace the power of self-care
A lot of people are feeling guilty about indulging in activities that don’t seem social justice oriented, and they shouldn’t. You owe it to yourself and to each other to take time away, to unplug, and divest from the traumatic images and videos that are spreading across social media and mainstream news. While you may feel limited in your ability to frolic freely outdoors, there are still plenty of ways you can disconnect from all of this and reconnect with each other. Give each other massages, flex your minds with some board games, have candlelit dinners, or share a romantic bubble bath. The fight continues and will still rage on tomorrow. Today, you get to rest and love up on each other.
Now is the time to lean into that kind of love. Whether you are married or in a long-term partnership or building a strong foundation for something beautiful, you should be able to turn to your lover and experience the radical Black love that has sustained us throughout generations of enslavement, Jim Crow, and mass incarceration. You should be able to find home in your lover and feel safe with your raw honesty and conviction. At the same time, you should be offering your lover the support they need during this time. Clinging to each other, being vulnerable, and filling the spaces in each other’s hearts, minds, and spirits are how you will get through this time. Your love is radical, your love is powerful, and right now, your love may be the thing that keeps your head above water and your spirit out of the darkness.