Recently, XoNecole published an article on black love that caught my attention. But agreement turned to disapproval as I read through the piece and by the end I was doing a full on face palm.
The article, titled In Order to Have Black Love, There Must First Be Forgiveness, touches on things that many black families experience — generational damage dating back to slavery, the assault on and abandonment of black women, the assault on black male bodies, the testy relationship between black men and women, and the effects all of this has on black love.
“I know that if you’re a Black woman it is more likely than not that you have been raped or violently assaulted. That you have walked out of or into your home feeling unsafe….
I know that if you’re a Black man there has been a narrative written in your name. You may have been raped, beaten, neglected, assaulted and forced to shake it off. That you may have been raised by a tired single mother who didn’t have the time or was not taught to think about your emotional development…
How do you love someone who may be systematically broken? And who, throughout their life, may break again and again?”
While I agree with much of what the article discussed, the conclusion — that we as black men and women must subject ourselves to mistreatment because it comes from a place of pain — disappointed me.
If you can forgive yourself a thousand times a day — know that you will have to forgive your lover just the same. You will have to accept that they will hurt you, pull away from you, lie to you, and perhaps leave you. That they may do those things because those things have been done to them by others. Or by you.
And then you have to accept how important this process is. The static in the air right now is solidifying.
We are at war.
We do have to fight back.
We do have to be aggressive.
We do have to be relentless.
But if Black people are standing on a battlefield, make no mistake—our greatest weapon is the ability to be loving.
To ourselves, to our lovers, to our children.
To our oppressors who are cowardly waiting for us to retreat.
I’m sorry. I cannot take on a man’s pain.
I can forgive him, but I cannot continue in a relationship with a man who bruises me, metaphorically or otherwise. I have been down that road enough times. The road of “accepting that they will hurt me, pull away from me, lie to me, and perhaps leave me.” The road of accepting “that they may do those things because those things have been done to them by others.” Where did all of my “loving” get me? Jaded. With extra baggage. That I had to heal on my own. Why should a black woman have to suffer so?
Frankly, I believe that once we reach adulthood we can no longer use our childhood (or past) as an excuse to continue what we are doing. Rather, our adulthood and independence is an opportunity to explore when and where we became broken… and then get the necessary help to heal so as not to hurt or scar others. Especially those that we claim to love.
And while I agree that we must forgive ourselves, our past, and those who have hurt us, I don’t agree that black love requires the kind of forgiveness that is accepting of abuse. There is such a thing as a healthy black love. Though I never experienced it, I have witnessed it enough times at the wedding altars of friends and family members to know that it exists. And it’s beautiful and without the pain.
But what if you never find this healthy black love? Well, don’t settle for an unhealthy version just for the sake of “helping” the black community. Yes, as the author states, “our greatest weapon [as a community] is the ability to be loving,” but it should not come at the price of ourselves. It should not come at the cost of a black woman’s well being. The first love we must master is love of ourselves, our own minds and our own bodies. And that love cannot accept abuse.