By Kent Justin
First things, first. I Love You. Period. Yes, You! You took the time out to read this and you’re still going. Lol. That’s Love. Love is the most complicated emotion, yet our most natural calling. We are all called to Love. Jesus begs us to, but somehow lately Love has become the problem instead of the solution to all.
My first thoughts about Love are…How can you love when you don’t love yourself? It’s some of the realest logic. Identity in today’s society has so much value, mentally and monetarily. Everyone is striving to stand out and make their individual identity known. So how does that work and what does that have to do with Love?
Understanding who you are intrinsically and also who you are in Christ I believe helps you truly understand and love who you are. I understand how the world may identify me, as a single, black man in America with an immigrant parent, but that’s not the Kent Justin I’ve grown to love. It took time, healing and personal time to fully Love the person that I’ve become. Everything down to my skin tone, height, logical nature, lack of empathy and apologetics. It’s so deep and I think we as a people like to jump to the concept of Black Love with a significant other before we get to the root of loving ourselves as Black Men and Women.
As an extension of self Black Love, learning Love Languages – Personal Touch, Quality Time, Words of Affirmation, Gifts and Acts of Service-- has become a great resource for relationships of any sort. Understanding how your preference of Love languages in different aspects and situations can help maneuver through them. Knowing what you expect from others and what you give can be a game changer. For example, naturally, I am an "Acts of Service" and "Quality Time" type of guy. So when I provide these things, sometimes I’m met with challenges in platonic and romantic relationships. If you communicate that your love language is 'Gifts and Affirmation', it’s clear that we may not meet each other’s needs naturally and that we will need to be intentional with each. Now, Love Languages can change over time and with different life situations. My Love Language as a Father is more complex at times than when I’m single and reckless. It’s all a balance.
History is doomed to repeat itself if no change is made. It’s a daunting statement when put into context of Love. The truth is your Parental Love (Mother/Father) or lack thereof is your foundation. How you love derives a lot from your paternal figures together and/separate identities. When you think about it, these essentially are your first models that you can comprehend. This hit me hard as a Father when I realized how my daughter reacted to how I express compassion. I realized that my experience of my parental love was sufficient but taught me that it’s not for everyone. So for my daughter, who has moments of separation anxiety, I realized the tough love and independence that my military parents embedded in me isn’t going to work well with her. It’s very much so a choice though. We have all seen examples of a repeated cycle of family generations. Breaking generational curses to me is an example of Black Love that is overlooked. Making the decision to love your family and future generations enough to separate from some of the existing patterns and habits passed down to you is challenging. This also ties in Grandparent Love, which for some, this might the first example of agape love. Maybe before you truly understand the Love of God, the Love from your grandparents if you’re blessed to have them is the most unconditional. They love you just for existing. Sometimes to a fault.
Black Love extends beyond family. There is an area of relational love between friends, associates and strangers alike. Ever felt strong emotion for someone you don’t even know? That deeper connection from a head nod or deep hug is surreal. I think Church is the first place I ever experienced true compassion and love for someone I might not be as connected with. Within Black church, we come together to sing praises and learn the Word, but when you take your faith to the next level and connect over a testimony – that’s Love.
From my experiences, vulnerability and transparency breeds the best relationships and examples of Black Love. There are some complexities that arise when evaluating love in platonic and associate relationships especially regarding gender roles – We’re all for Black Love until it makes us uncomfortable or isn’t presented in the way we envision it. Why can’t Black Men show love to other Black Men? Why when Black Women show love to other Black Women, it is regarded as fake? It’s time to rewrite the narrative on these constructs; we’re holding ourselves back.
So the funny part about all this, is once you take the time to face the adversity and trials of loving yourself, understanding your emotions, considering your family love habits and developing healthy friendships – You still have to find a significant other to match you! Sheesh. Knowing all this deff helps you take the time to build with someone instead of leaning on similar traumas and mutual situations. Love has no bounds, but there is something special about Black Love. Though I place no apparent judgement on mixed couples, there’s just a power behind the bond of people of our culture and way of life. Don’t be blinded by the glamour and facades of social media and fake holidays, Black Love is real and takes real work. Real Love, Real Work, Real Faith. May your hearts be golden, and your efforts be fruitful.
Kent Justin Brown – A single black father working in ecommerce based out of DFW. Alumni of UT-Arlington and Co-Founder of Stay Dadicated, an up and coming platform and podcast about Fatherhood. The first two seasons are available on Spotify, Soundcloud, Apple Podcasts, and Google Podcast. You can catch me producing and worshiping at Freedom Church (@MyFreedomDFW) in Bedford, TX or hanging with a bunch of Zeta Chi Apes (Alpha Phi Alpha). Always looking for a new experience, follow me at @Just_A_Phiasco or @StayDadicated to stay connected.