The Sister meets a Brother; extremely well read, intelligent, diligent in his work to combat oppressive systems, deep as the ocean, romantic as the 90’s, committed to keeping his heart, mind, and spirit focused, strong, and clean.
The Brother meets a Sister; her heart an inextinguishable flame, her mind expanding, absorbing information and experiences that propel her spiritual and intellectual growth at record speed, her soul calling out for his in a way he can’t resist.
The Brother is a builder; his physical and intellectual muscle bulging under the weight of the oppression of his people. His hands are in the soil that is their potential, prepping, nurturing, feeding, and loving. He exhausts himself. He works from the crack of dawn and doesn’t stop until his hands seize up and his body shuts down. But before he sleeps, he studies and strategizes; never ready to rest. There is none of himself to share on an intimate level.
The Sister is an organizer; her mind constantly working to understand her people, their struggle, their heartaches, headaches, and bruises. Her hand is in perpetual motion, writing to them in the hopes that they will hear her pleas for unity, for courage, for self determination, and for faith in themselves. She doesn’t sleep. She works days and nights, emailing, calling, and knocking on doors. She is committed to everyone and to no one all at once.
The Sister and Brother fall in love. And it’s like the kind of dream you never want to wake up from. It’s like the thrill that shoots through your body when you go for the winning shot, like the goosebumps on your arm when you connect to the intangibles of life; the other realm, like the relief one feels when easing into a hot bath after a long day. They fall in love and it’s everything. They fall in love and know they will never be the same.
But the Brother has baggage. He’s taken missteps that led to unexpected blessings and severe consequences. He’s backed himself into a corner that only the deepest love and understanding can rescue him from.
But the Sister has issues. She’s rushed too quickly to love, taken far too long to walk away, focused on the wrong things and dealt with the wrong people. She’s fed parts of herself that are ugly and insecure and only the strongest man can remain by her side while she takes on the task of starving them.
What they can do for each other pales in comparison to what they can do, together, for their people. It’s true that their love alone could be the change, the example their communities need to see, but also true that the mishandling of feelings, the misunderstanding of intentions, the mistakes that kill romance could be the choices that erase and prevent their joint contribution to the struggle for Black liberation.
And therein lies the problem. Is falling in love a luxury Black people can afford? When our fight for freedom depends on clarity, peace of mind, strength of heart, and unwavering resolve, can we risk involving ourselves in relationships that at some point WILL compromise all of the above? Does the fact that 70% of Black women’s first marriages end in divorce mean that we should avoid marriage or that we should focus on healing the chasm that impedes the type of unity, commitment, and unconditional love that results in lifelong relationships? I’ve always been in favor of the latter, but am coming to an understanding that many organizers and activists struggle to make the kind of time that is necessary for that kind of healing, for that kind of emotional growth, for the kind of building that is required.
We all have a choice to make and it isn’t an easy one. Black love, whether it be heterosexual, homosexual, polyamorous, polygamous, monogamous, exclusive or open is and always has been necessary, is and always has been magical, is and always has been a primary component of Black nationalism, Black autonomy and Black freedom. Black love has also been attacked. Black love has been mishandled. Black love has been discarded. So, now, if we choose to embrace romantic Black love, we also have to choose to make Black love conscious of its enemies, intentionally ingrained in our efforts to dismantle the system, and rooted in our purpose. If we can’t make that choice, we should leave Black love to those who can. Failure to do so will result in pain, destruction, and regression that are undoubtedly negative for our communities.
As someone who fights for freedom, I wonder if failing to make that choice means that I’ll be a partial soldier. Would the decision not to make any attempts at maintaining a lifelong love, at building a family, at creating little soldiers that will go out and continue my work mean that my contribution is atomistic? Or, is the truth that all of our contributions are parts of one, beautiful whole; and that we mustn’t pressure ourselves to be everything our community needs in one lifetime?