“I remember the exact day I fell in love with hip-hop.”
That’s the opening line of “Brown Sugar,” a classic rom-com with an all-black cast. We later find out that “hip-hop” is the main character’s best friend and future love interest, played by the gorgeous Taye Diggs. Even as a young girl, this line resonated with me.
Like the main character in “Brown Sugar,” most of us can recall the first instance we felt the force of black love. “I was in my teens and love was something I only heard or thought about,” says Austyn Rich, a Los Angeles-based dancer and choreographer and one of the people featured in the short film by Director X you see above. “I did not have any examples of people who were like me, so I was not prepared to absorb black love’s potential. [I did not know] that every moment together with [this person] would be a coded language that only you and your best friend understand, [and] when no words are needed and you laugh harmoniously.”
This is what makes black love special: The language that fuels it cannot be taught or replicated. It’s innate.
Black love is a private club, not because it’s pretentious or exclusive, but because those who are in it know what it’s really like to be in their partner’s shoes. They know what it’s like to wake up every day and have to make themselves presentable enough to defy stereotypes while remaining authentic to their culture. To have to work twice as hard only to get half as far. And what to expect at every family gathering, be it Thanksgiving or a summer cookout — no pre-briefing or code switching necessary. This is what makes black love special: The language that fuels it cannot be taught or replicated. It’s innate, and as Austyn explains, “an organic joy because there’s a code you both understand without ever having to explain it.”
“Black love is like being hungry and tired after a long day only to come home to Incense burning, Sade playing, and the smell of a home-cooked meal that’ll cure your soul,” says Stoney Love, a clothing-store owner in Los Angeles who also appears in the video. “It’s the moment when you go to your homegirl to vent and she not only listens, but she also makes you laugh so hard that you exhale with gratitude, because you got a real one and you’re going to be alright.”
Black love is comfort. For many, black love is home. It’s your favorite meal when you’re hungry, the cool side of the pillow on a warm night, and rediscovering a song you haven’t heard in years. And while all of this sounds wholesome and pure, don’t get it twisted. Black love is the party, a strong drink after a long week, and the first kiss with someone you’ve been crushing on for a long time. To put it simply (and in Austyn’s words), “black love feels like fireworks.”
And like all fireworks shows, you never want it to end.