Why Black Love Matters More Than Ever

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Mother, wife, sister, friend, writer / blogger / creative organizer, budding photographer... These are just a few of the many hats I juggle each day. I believe creativity is oxygen for the soul. I created Live In Color blog to celebrate the beauty in every moment, from faith to inspiration and motherhood.And it is soon becoming Pray with Our Feet blog which will focus on the intersection of faith and activism. Follow the inspiration on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/praywithourfeetblog/
Emelda De Coteau
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http://liveincolor.org/2016/04/08/why-black-love-matters-more-than-ever/
Photo via Pixaby

We scream black lives matter (and rightly so), but if we ignore the fundamental role of black love, we have lost our way. Love is at the root of revolution, no progress endures without it.  And when black folks authentically love ourselves, families, and communities, we defy a society intent on destroying us.

Beginning at birth, American culture baptizes us in self-hatred. Young girls and boys quickly learn to equate beauty and intelligence with whiteness. Even within the most supportive and progressive families, some kids begin to question their value and worth. The hegemony of structural racism is far reaching and impacts us all in innumerable ways.

Loving Your Color, Yourself

Therefore coming to love yourself, despite all of these toxic messages, becomes an act of courage and determination. Scholar and teacher bell hooks writes in her book Killing Rage: Ending Racism: “Loving blackness as political resistance transforms our ways of looking and being, and thus creates the conditions necessary for us to move against the forces of domination and death and reclaim black life.”

These days it’s tough to scroll through your Facebook, Twitter or Instagram feed without seeing the latest hashtag for a man, woman, boy or girl killed at the hands of police.  According to the website Mapping Police Violence, “police killed more than 100 unarmed black people” in 2015. This number stands at five times the rate of unarmed whites.”

As we battle such blatant disregard for black life, we also contend with our children being harshly disciplined throughout educational institutions, thereby continuing to fuel a school-to-prison pipeline. Hundreds of school districts across the country punish students of color not in the classroom, but instead, push them directly into correctional facilities.

Teaching Tolerance, a project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, cites an alarming statistic in a 2013 blog post: “African-American students are 3.5 times more likely than their white classmates to be suspended or expelled, according to a nationwide study by the U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights. Black children constitute 18 percent of students, but they account for 46 percent of those suspended more than once.”

Living under these conditions certainly takes a toll, and although research is ongoing, there is a growing body of work examining the ramifications on our physiological well being. And so, now, more than ever, during an era of mass incarceration, police violence, bitter wounds from drugs, poverty, and violence perpetuated both outside of our community and within it, we need love. Labels of class, sexual orientation, ideology or religion should not divide, but rather connect us as we realize the fullness of a shared humanity.

Love Is Radical Resistance to Despair

Love is radical resistance to despair, a pathway to compassion which ignites transformation. Once you and I begin to see one another, looking earnestly with our hearts, we will consistently stand against any form of violence or exclusion (sexism, homophobia, those who are differently-abled), perpetuated outside of the community or within it.

The challenges facing us may never subside. Yet we must actively choose to create spaces which honor love. I believe the most profound healing emerges through excruciating pain. The first space is the mind. Are your thoughts focused on irritation and mistrust, or openness and peace? Are you gentle with yourself or harsh?

Our second opportunity to nurture love is within the home. When is the last time you said I love you and hugged or kissed your family? The final part of the journey is extending love to those with whom you are unfamiliar – not your friends, co-workers, or spouse. Can you come to view these “strangers” as your brothers and sisters?

I read a Facebook post a few years ago that said: “there isn’t a person you would not love if you knew their story.” If you and I are brave enough to bear witness and listen, we may find pieces of our truth in another’s experience. This the essence of authentic love, coming to fully connect with others.

The liberation of black folks then depends not only on political and economic might, but our willingness to love one another and ourselves with an unwavering commitment.

The video below is a collection of photos (folks I know) which demonstrates some of the ways we love one another  – mothers, fathers, children, and couples. I purposely chose not to show celebrities; for me, it’s about recognizing the love which manifests everyday among our friends, co-workers, and neighbors. All of us can choose love.

Video produced by my awesome hubby, Kes, founder of Keystone Productions.

This piece was first published by Beautifully Said magazine where I am a coulmnist.

Talk to Me!

How are you welcoming love into your life? How do you cultivate self love as a person of color?

 

Inspired Reading: Daily Devotions for Christian Moms

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Mother, wife, sister, friend, writer / blogger / creative organizer, budding photographer... These are just a few of the many hats I juggle each day. I believe creativity is oxygen for the soul. I created Live In Color blog to celebrate the beauty in every moment, from faith to inspiration and motherhood.And it is soon becoming Pray with Our Feet blog which will focus on the intersection of faith and activism. Follow the inspiration on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/praywithourfeetblog/
Emelda De Coteau
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Photo credit:  Emelda De Coteau
Photo credit:
Emelda De Coteau
My Mom's beautiful note to me nearly 3 years ago.  Photo credit: Emelda De Coteau
My Mom’s beautiful note to me nearly 3 years ago.
Photo credit: Emelda De Coteau
I believe there are times when books find us, becoming vertible lights, guide posts through life’s challenges.  A few weeks ago I discovered a devotional collection my mother gave me for Naima’s first Christmas (she was only 4 months old), How Deep A Mother’s Love… A Devotional Journey.

As I opened it, exhausted from the night before, I read her note to me and these lines stood out, almost as if Mom knew my feelings in this moment: “There will be days of delight and deep struggle. Remember, through it all, your help, your strength, comes from the Lord.”

As I lay there in the stillness of morning, ingesting the weight of her words, I thought of how God uses adversity to draw us closer to him. These devotionals are my solace, an anchor through the chaos and joy of motherhood.

Before Naima, I rarely sat still. Life, it seemed, could not move fast enough. I relentlessly chased experiences, hungry for an end to the mundane – art gallery openings, lectures, book readings, and of course, parties, lots of parties.

Then one cold late November night, nearly three years ago, three words (you are pregnant) transformed my life in ways I still struggle to understand. I am this precious little girl’s Mom.

In this new season, my soul yearns for the fullness only faith in God gives us. And so, I often begin the day (especially when Nai sleeps a little longer) quieting my mind and exploring passages of the bible I learned long ago. Of course now those verses I once recited as a child in Sunday School connect in a concrete way. The complexity of life – the adversities and struggles – do that to us. God is guiding us towards him; little by little, he seems to say, rest your weariness in me.

Here are some of my favorite devotional passages and verses of scripture highlighted in this book: 

” In the demanding world in which we live, financial prosperity can be a good thing, but spiritual prosperity is profoundly more important.”  (pg. 98)

“So don’t get tired of doing what is good. Don’t get discouraged and give up, for we will reap a harvest of blessing at the appropriate times.” Galatians 6:9 (pg. 25)

“Sometimes patience is simply the price we pay for being responsible parents, and that’s exactly as it should be. After all, think how patient our Heavenly Father has been with us.” (pg. 143)

“But until God’s perfect plan is made known, we must walk in faith and never lose hope. And we must continue to trust Him. Always.” (pg. 134)

“We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God: those who are called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28 HCSB (pg. 21)

A Mother’s Prayer:

“Lord let me be a mother who celebrates life. Let me rejoice in the gift of this day, and let me praise You for the gift of Your Son. Let me a joyful Christian, Lord, as I share Your Good News with friends, with family, and with the world. Amen.”  (pg. 212)