Black Love and Sexuality Talk reclaims intimacy from biased media

Black love is intimate. Black love is intense. Black love is intersectional. These are just some of the adjectives that Ramapo’s Black students and staff use to describe Black love.

At the Black Love and Sexuality Talk, hosted by the Women’s Center and LGBTQ+ Services on Monday, attendees shared their personal thoughts and experiences and tackled tough questions related to these topics.

Sam Jones, student office manager for the Women’s Center, facilitated the discussion, which felt more like a conversation among friends. She started with a couple of guiding questions before jumping into the questions that were written down at the beginning of the event.

The discussion began with defining and highlighting the importance of Black love. Attendees agreed that the shared understanding of culture and generational trauma makes Black love deeper and more passionate because it feels like a reclamation of love that wasn’t allowed for past generations.

“There’s something about the struggles we’ve been through that makes us love differently,” an attendee said.

Another person reflected on the fact that for them, Black love is entwined with their hair.

“When I think about Black love, I think about being vulnerable with someone… I think of doing someone’s hair and them doing mine,” they said.

The group then moved on to talking about why Black love is looked down upon by some people. Much of the group attributed it to how the media portrays Black love as toxic.

“Every time I see a Black person on TV that goes into a relationship with another Black person, I’m like either two things are gonna happen. Either someone’s gonna cheat… or they’ll physically hurt each other,” one attendee said. “Or one of them is gonna die.” 

They cited the show, “Jerry Springer,” and actor and filmmaker Tyler Perry for creating content that capitalizes on and exploits Black trauma and gives Black love a bad reputation.

An attendee encouraged the others to explore where these portrayals and expectations come from, especially when other media, such as “The Kissing Booth” and “After,” feature violence and abuse from white characters but do not receive the same judgment.

“It’s because we’re already seen as aggressive,” another attendee said.

The conversation moved to explore a highly-controversial topic: why more Black men date outside the Black community than Black women.

One person shared that they believe Black men can gain prestige in society by dating a non-Black woman. Another shared they feel that Black men can’t handle Black women because of how passionate and tough they are.

Another used fetishization as an explanation. “Black women don’t have as much of a pick as Black men because Black men… are winning off of being fetishized,” they said.

As the event neared its conclusion, the group shared how they express their sexuality.

“I would say clothes,” an attendee said, “and how I carry myself.”

Others shared that they feel they don’t outwardly express their sexuality and that it can be difficult to tell someone’s sexuality based solely on how they present themselves.

“I don’t think I actively express my sexuality,” Jones said. “It’s just me, and I just happen to be this sexuality.”

The conversation then shifted to how sexuality is about intention – how a person acts and what they mean by it. The group talked about how American culture has come to sexualize certain dance moves that are simply viewed as a form of self-expression in many non-white cultures.

“In Jamaica, I can go to a party, I can dance with someone… I could be doing the most sexual type of move, and it doesn’t mean anything, but if I’m looking at a person in their eyes, I’m giving them a little smile… then it’s different,” an attendee said. “It’s all about intentions.”

Featured photo by Care Granholm