What does it mean to root for black love? Historically and culturally, what instructions — whether explicit or implicit — do black women receive about what it means to love black partners?
Heteronormative messaging tends to be patriarchal. It begins with “Let a manbe a man” and often seems to end with encouraging women to have a high threshold for ambivalence and a tolerance for anger, indifference, or outright emotional/physical abuse — all in the name of maintaining the appearance of a “healthy,” “intact” black family.
When the lovers in question are poor, the effects of this messaging are particularly stark. If we’re taught that we’re supposed to be fiercely loyal to the cause of loving a population of men who are routinely demonized and whose frequent incarceration and murder reinforce the idea that romantic love isn’t a worthwhile currency in our community, the odds are rarely…
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