🎶Who do you love? Are you for sure?
Who do you love? Are you for sure? 🎶
-Total, in LL Cool J’s Loungin
We’re in the season of love and Black History & Futures Month. And for those of you who know me well, my birthday month. So February is usually my favorite month of the year. Usually, it is a month of celebration, reflection, and loving on my family, my life thus far, and myself.
I’m fully recognizing this year that I’m continuing to really carry a load that seems tied to a heavy cloud that continues to pour down grief, pain, hurt, and sadness, for me and for the world around me. If I’m honest with myself, the last birthday that felt like a true celebration not clouded by other fears, worries, uncertainties, and challenges was in February 2020. It makes sense right? Covid hit in 2020, and with that came isolation, fear of death, worldwide panic, and the murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor.
I think the continued factor that I can’t ignore that existed prior to 2020, and just got even harder, is the continuation of people that I love, people of color, suffering and enduring unbearable pressures. The continuation of myself facing new uncertainties, poor health, and barriers to reaching those life goals that seem only available to the privileged. When you’re someone like me, empathic to your core fighting for racial justice, the ongoing conversations with loved ones about their emotional, mental, and physical well-being under attack -- HURTS. You add your own shit -- this is where breakdowns occur.
What saves me - my sisters. Who I love! And I’m for sure!
So now I’m getting to the point of this whole article. The word “love” is thrown around a lot. I hear teachers say, “I love ALL my students.” I’ve heard speakers end a talk with “I love you ALL.” When I hear these words, the LL Cool J lyrics usually play in my head. “Who do you love, are you for sure?” The reason they do is that I believe:
Love runs deep.
Love is the solution to the liberation of the oppressed.
Love is unconditional.
Love withstands time.
Love is protective.
When I hear people use “love” to describe their relationship with people I know they’re not in a relationship with outside of their jobs, I question it. Will you be there for this person when they need you most? Will you fight with this person when they face injustice? Will you put your life or livelihood on the line for their well-being? Do you even know - when they need help?
I equally question the person that wants co-conspirators while keeping up barriers that prevent an honest relationship between them. I don’t think you can ask someone to fight alongside you effectively without knowing the real you. How can they show up for you if you always seem to have it all together?
So who do you allow this vulnerable relationship with? If they are racially different from you and represent Black, Indigenous, Latinx, Asian, Pacific Islander, and People of color, is it love that you share with them? Or are your “love relationships” homogenous? If you do have some BIPOC “love relationships”, do you show up for them as you do for your family?
In this season of love, I want to challenge us to show up with love in solidarity. Like, REAL LOVE! Not that 9 - 5, only in our workspace, type of love. Not that only when Black or Asian people have been mass-murdered, will I show up love. Not that, cute email signature quoting MLK or Gandhi love. Not that hold the button for the heart symbol that acknowledges I read that post/text love. No! Reach deep inside and attempt to open up your heart and expand those you love to go beyond your immediate friends and family.
2020 has caused many of us to hold on really tight to close and trusted circles. It may have helped us to shed relationships that were more harmful than good. It hopefully brought some of us to appreciate life, our own lives, and that of others, more intentionally. What I know we need in 2023 - is for that to expand across racial lines and communities in solidarity with our brothers and sisters, cousins, and extended family that we may not have as much connection with that face and fight racial injustices historically and presently. In love, we must see ourselves in the faces, bodies, and stories of people across communities. We must love strongly and allow that love to move us into action and transformation.
Audre Lorde wrote in Sister Outsider, “The love expressed between women is particular and powerful because we have had to love in order to live; love has been our survival.” This article is dedicated to my sisters, who are shown above. It is because of them that I not only survive but live powerfully. I love you.