Celebrating Black History Month
Silence speaks volumes. Most of us know this. On matters of the mind, while there’s plenty being verbally discussed, matters of the heart remain subdued. They linger in the shadows of the subconscious, masking and hiding about, with not only an agenda – but also an alternative. The heart and mind design the foundation of who we are; more importantly, what we are.
Human relationships are complicated. A big part of this complication indeed begins with us. When we are uncomfortable about something within ourselves, we find it difficult to communicate with the very people whose opinions we value the most, or for whom our feelings are the strongest. Communication is one thing. Trustworthy connection is another. Understanding the needs of our partners can be an arduous challenge. When we are attentive, we are able to “silently” tune in to deeply rooted matters of the heart and the unspoken quandary that are taking place in the mind between us and our companions. Within our relationships, we must learn to give priority to those things that will maintain us: patience, kindness, clarity, trust, hope, self-control, faithfulness, and unconditional love. These are the qualities that make for long-lasting, sustainable, loving unions.
Brothers and Sisters share challenges daily: economic, social, and educational. From competing and climbing the ladder of corporate status and employment, to caring for and being responsible, many times, single-handed supporting the family. We need more communication within our circles and relationships. We need more light. I have discovered through my own partnerships that silence can keep us in the dark. Fear immobilizes our abilities to communicate and connect with one another. It forces us to keep the issues that ought to be brought to the light, a secret. Silence does not unite partnerships; it divides them. Though you may know that another person’s silence speaks volumes, don’t be so sure you know what those volumes contain.
A sister friend shared with me a publication on black love and some of the myths it contains: why black relationships and marriages don’t last, that they only consists of sex, are filled with arguments, hardship, pain, and troublesome mischief, or that they simply do not exist at all. “What is astonishing under these circumstances,” as one historian noted, “is not that some Black couples have problems, but that so many Black couples still love and give.” These couples are all around us, and we can learn from them and from Black history how to identify – and how to defy – the biggest lies about Black male/female relationships. [Source: Ebony Magazine, March 2002]
Today, many phenomenal black couples share the stage with the success of African-American couples in history, that stand and have stood the test of time. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Mrs. Coretta Scott King, Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee, and President Barack and Michelle Obama are examples of such. On October 18, 1992, Barack Hussain Obama Junior wed Michelle LaVaughn Robinson at the Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, Illinois. Barack, being a Stevie Wonder fan and not ironically, positioned their wedding song to be one of Stevie’s classics, “You and I”. Hence, today, that remains a true reflection of their long term devotion and flight.
Michelle, a graduate of Harvard Law School and practicing Lawyer at the time, first met Barack at Sidley Austin, a law firm where they both worked and were among very few African Americans. Their relationship began with a business lunch and then a community organization meeting where he first impressed her. After Barack left his stimulating effects on Michelle and over a period of one month, she finally agreed to a first date. They went to the art institute, had a quaint lunch at an outdoor café, talked, walked, and talked some more, had a cocktail on the 99th floor of the John Hancock building, then ventured to see the Spike Lee movie, “Do the Right Thing.” Hindsight, I suppose they did.
Black love is beautiful and the Obama’s give us an unmistakable illustration of this love in its embodiment. They show us not only that black male and female relationships can work, but that they are realistic and significant to our culture. One aspect of the Obama’s union that I admire most is their ability to simultaneously communicate and connect. One quality is indispensable to the other, like flowers need rain and sunlight to grow and survive. The Obama’s understand the importance of placing precedence on their together time. Barack Obama wrote in his second book, The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream, that, “Tired and stressed, we had little time for conversation, much less romance.” Nonetheless, after more than 20 years of marriage, they continue to schedule date nights.
Love is essential. It is the core of our being and it is the glue that bonds us as individuals, as partners, and as a society.
Michelle Obama on love: “Cute’s good. But cute only lasts for so long, and then it’s, “Who are you as a person?” Don’t look at the bankbook or the title. Look at the heart. Look at the soul. When you’re dating a man, you should always feel good…You shouldn’t be in a relationship with somebody who doesn’t make you COMPLETELY happy and make you feel whole.” [Source: Michael Y. Park, “Michelle Obama’s Secrets to Finding a Great Guy.” People.com 2011]
After reading Michelle’s profound quote of note, my personal mental alarm clock went off.
Love and Light for your Tuesday. Happy Sweethearts Week!