Black Love As Resistance With Tyece Wilkins

Black love is heavy and complicated. It is a source of strength and a source of aggravation. The love shared between black people of all kinds are the acts of resistance that not only save us but propel us into future generations. It's love that helps us overcome the circumstances that we face. As a new administration takes hold in the nation's capital, and we're expected to see major rollbacks on civil rights and voting rights. We wanted to talk to someone about black love and it's tradition of resistance.

Lydia and Reginald, photographed for Love Me Well Photo by Jazzmin Awa-Williams

Lydia and Reginald, photographed for Love Me Well Photo by Jazzmin Awa-Williams

 

At the end of last year, you launched 'Love Me Well' a multimedia series that aims series that aims to celebrate and elevate black love, what did the series teach you about black love? 

Love Me Well revealed that no two black love stories are quite alike. Somewhere, in some crevice of my heart, I knew that. But spending time with 10 different couples over the course of two weeks brought new meaning to that revelation. The images of black love in mainstream culture are often times either wildly wholesome or absolutely tumultuous. Most people, however, do not live on either of those far ends of the spectrum. I learned that and felt that through curating Love Me Well.

I know this might be a strange question but what is black love? What does it look and feel like in 2017?

Black love is a sanctuary. It is our safe haven, our refuge, four walls that keep us free from danger when the world is catching on fire. Black love is rebellion. It is every one of us interlocking our arms and yelling “Red Rover, Red Rover, send the chaos of this Universe on over.” Black love is daring to cherish one another in a world that would much rather we turn our backs on each other. Black love is revolution. It is our loudest protest and our strongest uprising. It is how we can transform the world by simply letting our hearts connect and reverberate.

Black love is often expressed only through romantic love, what is black love beyond romantic love?

Black love, beyond romantic love, has reached me most through family and sisterhood. I’m at this strange and beautiful juncture in life where I fully appreciate just how much my parents have both outright and quietly supported me. I’ve slowly realized not every person has that volume of support. I’m forever indebted to both of them for the threads they stitched together to make me who I am. Sisterhood, consisting of my two biological sisters as well as several of my closest friends and tribe, has also been paramount for me.

Sisterhood provides a mirror. An outlet. Sisterhood is a hand to hold when it feels like every single fist around you is curled up. The black women in my life are truly magical. 

These two types of black love have been most prevalent in my life and have gradually transformed that definition of black love for me.

Black women are often depicted as unable to get along or love and support each other, I find that this is not based in reality. How would you describe the state of black love amongst black women?

 This question is tough. Frankly, there’s a bit of a disconnect for me between the love among the black women in my life and the love I witness among black women who do not know one another closely. I believe many of us gotten to a point where we have that village of black women in our lives that enlivens, emboldens, and supports us.

However, I still think we have progress to make in terms of how we treat the black women who are not necessarily in our inner tribe.

For me, that means everything from smiling at one another on the street to doing away with the tweets that suggest we are somehow better than one another. In many ways, love among black women means respecting each other’s choices and identifying with each other’s struggles.

What role has black love played in the black resilience and resistance movement?

Black love is the cornerstone of the black resilience and resistance movement. That love is what unites us and helps us prepare for battle.

 It almost feels like survival during the Trump administration will depend largely on how we love each other, what are your thoughts on black love in the Trump Era?

 To my earlier point, black love is a sanctuary, rebellion, and revolution. It only takes five minutes watching CNN to understand that trio is more necessary than ever in the Trump Era.

 We can't discuss resistance without discussing labor. Black women do so much of the work of resistance, often without acknowledgment or appreciation, how do we continue to do this work without becoming frustrated and burnt out?

 We have to take care of ourselves. It can’t be fifth or sixth on the list; it has to be first. I talked to my friend awhile ago about how black women are incredibly multi-dimensional and complex. Those multiple dimensions and that complexity lend themselves to so many outlets and ways that we can take care of ourselves and preserve our peace. It is necessary to fight the good fight. It is also necessary to kick back, to blast some Future, to take a hot bath, or to set a self-care Sunday in motion. Balancing the scale so every part of our lives receives our attention is necessary.

 Black self-love is also a powerful form of resistance, explain the importance of black self-love and its role in resistance?

Black self-love is resistance. To me, they are one in the same. If resistance is defined as “the opposition offered by one thing, force, etc., to another” nothing strikes me as more resistant to the tumult of the world than self-love.

What are some daily actions that we all can take to love ourselves and each other more?

Loving myself in a real and lasting way started with finding something that gave me purpose and energy independent of anyone else. That is where my writing came in. Writing is how I recharge. It is something that makes me feel confident enough to stand on top of mountains and vulnerable enough to bring me to my knees. It is something that brings me unadulterated joy without anyone else ever having to be there with me. Finding the passion that awakens something inside of you even when no one else is watching is a step toward that no holds barred self-love.

Loving oneself is also incumbent upon forgiving ourselves and making peace with the past. Something I wrote in my newsletter last year about self-love is that:

Loving yourself is an everyday kind of sport, an unending lesson, ten rounds in the ring with the demons of your past. Loving yourself is a trek alone in the forest. It is staring at your reflection every day through broken mirrors and in the fractured light. It is making peace with the devils on your shoulders and the thoughts in your head. Yes, loving yourself is far and away the hardest part. But, when you finally start to figure it out, no other love comes quite close. No other love is more beautiful than that.

Loving each other more is simple. It is smiling at one another on the train platform. It’s stepping into the realization that not every person who looks like you will make the same choices as you, and that is more than OK. It is the support that is both loud and vibrant as well as quiet and plain. Loving each other is easy. We are the ones getting in the way of ourselves.

Tyco Wilkins Photo by Jazzmin Awa-Williams

Tyco Wilkins Photo by Jazzmin Awa-Williams

 

Tyece Wilkins is the voice behind the blog Twenties Unscripted and the author of Twenties Unscripted: A Journey of Womanhood, Writing, and Relativity. Through her work, Tyece hopes to spark women to connect to the best, bravest, and boldest parts of themselves. She resides in the D.C. metro area where she currently works in corporate communications and is writing her second book.