Remember the movie Love Jones?
Where sexy ass Larenz Tate appeared as Darius Lovehall alongside the beautiful Nia Long as Nina Mosely? I wish it were a book!
For me, the movie was the resurgence of black love on the big screen. As a poet, there was an appeal to me, but more than that…was the gloriousness of seeing black love on the screen. In many ways, every time I see the movie my love for poetry begins all over again as does my love of their love. The beauty of this film is… everything; the complicated relationships, the friendships, and most importantly: the love story.
It’s not just because they are black or because as a poet I want to fall in love with another poet. I absolutely love how deep in love I feel once the closing credits start running. It gives me hope! Two young, black professionals, both just trying to find a way to love each other in spite of the complications that life threw their way.
Isn’t that what black romance is?
The heyday of black romance novels harkens back to the 90’s and early 2000’s when black books were published by mainstream publishers and those authors received acclaim and recognition. That acknowledgement of the public who consumed those books translated into films and TV series that capitalized on that interest. Not that all of the books were romance, but a lot of them contained an element of black love. Much of that has been lost in the last 15 years. I also love black love because it feeds me. Have you ever noticed that the descriptions for the array of colors that black people come in are mostly associated with food? Dark chocolate, milk chocolate, peanut butter, honey, caramel, butterscotch, butter pecan, pecan, walnut and so on. Black romance novels are the means to satisfy our appetites. They are the soul food of our literature.
For me, black romance is the affirmation of many generations of black love.
It is Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee, Coretta and Martin Luther King Jr., Medgar and Myrlie Evers, Malcolm X and Betty Shabazz, the lead characters of the film Mahogany and many others. Black love throughout the diaspora deserves to be represented and acknowledged because, these stories need to be told.
Sometimes, we need the reminder that black love is not only what we see on reality shows or read about on social media. Today, in mainstream media, there is a lack of real representation. It is our job as authors, writers and readers to ensure that our voices and our love is seen. I read works by black women about black love because I know that those books will reflect some of my experience.
I love, black love.