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?

 

Mama Blog Chat: Creative Spirit, Jacquelyn Phoenix Soul

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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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Jacquelyn Phoenix Soul and children  Photo credit:
Jacquelyn Phoenix Soul and her children, daughters Cherie-Amor, Dela-Eden, and son Malachi. Photo Credit: Michelle Antoinette Photography

I think Moms are the coolest people on the planet! Maybe because I am one now. Ha! Seriously though, we juggle motherhood with work, relationships, and just general life stuff. How many Moms do you know who effortlessly heal their kiddos when sick and then tackle the rest of life’s challenges.

Yet the Moms I am especially inspired by are those who I have something in common with, you know those cool Moms who manage not to abandon their creative passions.

Jacquelyn and her eldest daughter Cherie-Amor Photo credit: Jacquelyn Phoenix Soul

Enter Brooklyn native Jacquelyn Phoenix Soul, a singer / performer, visual artist, jewelry maker, and poet who calls Baltimore home; she is also a birth doula / post partum doula / designer at Buddha Bump. Geez! How does she do it all, I wondered?

Jacquelyn Phoenix Soul performs with son Malachi on her hip  Photo credit: Michelle Antoinette Photography
Jacquelyn Phoenix Soul performs with at Culture Coffee in Washington, D.C. with son Malachi on her hip                             Photo credit: Michelle Antoinette Photography

So I thought, why not include a regular series on the blog where we can hear from Moms like her, and be inspired by their tenacity and determination to live fully?

I hope you enjoy our chat as much as I did! We discussed everything from scheduling (you know how she manages to raise such beautiful and bright kids – Cherie-Amor, Dela-Eden and Malachi) to faith and the diversity of her children’s personalities and the rich lessons of motherhood.

Something she said particularly resonated with me:

No one can mother your child better than you…  That child has chosen you to come here through.

Check out the full conversation here on Sound Cloud .

Keep up with her amazing work:

Facebook

Instagram 

Hear this awesome song she wrote, “Be Free

Jacquelyn Phoenix Soul and son Malachi  Photo courtesy of Jacquelyn Phoenix Soul
Jacquelyn Phoenix Soul and son Malachi
Photo credit: Cherie-Amor Clemmons
                               Dela-Eden strikes a pose                                     Photo credit: Jacquelyn Phoenix Soul
Visual artwork by Jacquelyn Phoenix Soul  Photo courtesy of Jacquelyn Phoenix Soul
Visual artwork by Jacquelyn Phoenix Soul
Photo credit: Jacquelyn Phoenix Soul
Malachi  Photo credit:
Malachi
Photo credit: Michelle Antoinette Photography