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While reflecting over the past year, over my Saturday morning breakfast (two slices of whole grain toast with peanut butter and a large glass of water), I am reminded that a lot happened in 2016. In all that happened, the final nail on the coffin for me was when the last iconic and historic eight years concluded with (my forever President and First Lady) Barack and Michelle Obama leaving the first office and a new era began.

The Obama’s have done countless great things for this country with a decrease in unemployment, the Affordable Care Act, with no scandals and a hairline that was UNTOUCHED, and there are very few presidents that can do what this administration has done. As they were leaving the office, I, like many, felt sincere sadness. One thing I will miss from this administration is the constant presence of Black Love. Now, with the Obamas out of the White House, black love will be even more important in 2017.

What do you think about when I say black love? Barack and Michelle? Remy and Papoose? Jada and Will Smith? Dwayne Wade and Gabrielle Union? Yeah sure! They are all embodiments of black love. My black love vision board wouldn’t be complete without these couples. But to me, black love is more than just two people of color in a romantic relationship. Black love is as multifaceted as we now consider health to be. Just as health is not just what you are eating, but also about what you are thinking and saying to yourself and to others so is black love.

With that being said, let’s take a multidimensional approach to the definition of black love. So what do I mean when I say “black love”? Black love encompasses seven parts: social, emotional, spiritual, environmental, occupational, intellectual, and physical.Social Black Love

Connect and invest time in relationships with others. These relationships do not have to be romantic. Of course that would be nice, but we aren’t all going to be like the romantic relationships I stated before, but romantic or not, we all have people in our lives that we love and appreciate. Friends and family who mean so much to us and we’d be lost without. (If you do not, let’s find some. Volunteering could be a great place to invest time into someone who needs it, give back to your community but also pour into yourself.) Let’s take the time this year to intentionally build up these relationships, making them stronger, make memories in real life, and away from social media, and make the important people in our lives feel appreciated. Most of all, let us walk away from all toxic, negative, abusive, one-sided, dead-end, relationships or friendships. Things that only take from us and never pour back into us.

Emotional Black Love

Mental health and wellness is beginning to come to the forefront more and more in the black community, which is great, but it still has a long way to go. As important as talking about mental health is, being aware of where you are mentally and emotionally is where you start. Self-assessment is important to begin the journey of self-care, self-love, and self-growth. Take time to assess where you are, and take steps to get your mental health and emotional well being in the best place possibly for you to be your best self by any means necessary. These past years have taken a toll of our emotional well being as a community. Acknowledging that is not something to be ashamed. In this time of rebuilding, make sure you start with yourself and then take on the world.

Spiritual Black Love

Take time to make sure your values, beliefs, and relationship with a higher power are all aligned. Is not about what you believe, but I do think in this day and age, it is important that you believe in something. So maybe for you that means going to church, or maybe spending time in nature, maybe it’s aligning your chakras with crystals, or spending time volunteering with small children. Find something that makes you believe and keep it close.

Environmental/ Community Black Love

Now more than ever it is time for us to invest in ourselves and our communities, building them up and making them a place full of culture and love and life. We need to stop outsiders from gutting our communities, then turning them for a quick profit. We must reclaim our communities and shift the narratives of the stories coming out of them. Make our communities the villages they once were to raise our children to fulfill their birthright, the future.

Occupational Black Love

Let’s start making the steps to get where we ultimately want to be in our profession and I mean real measurable attainable steps to work toward a place where you love getting up and going to work everyday. Find some way to make the work that you do, important to you and important to the culture. Know that what you add in your workspace is so important.

Also, as a part of investing in our communities, let’s continue to invest in black businesses. Yes, I get it. Sometimes this means, an additional expense that you haven’t accounted for, but keeping black businesses alive will forever be important to our culture.

Intellectual Black Love

We need to be stimulating knowledge. Getting away from just accepting the “history” we have been taught and start seeking information. We need to be more knowledgeable about our culture and our history, continuing to make the stories of our ancestor known. But more than just cultural information although that is important, we need leaders in all aspects to be represented and included across disciplines. We need politicians, doctors, artists, teachers, engineers, writers, authors, and business executives. We need to be so infused in society, in so many arenas, and be the undeniable authority in these spaces to force others to include such diverse narrative about black culture. We will be such a staple that it would be impossible for others to exclude us from the table. So learn as much as you can, and be the best that you can.

Physical Black Love

We must love our bodies and by love, I mean: be good to our bodies. Being very aware of what we put into our bodies and what we are asking of it. Let’s stop living like we will die tomorrow and start to treat our bodies like we have a long way to good. That means drinking lots of water, eating your vegetables (ew I know), and getting light exercise in at least 3 times a week. We have a fight to fight and I don’t foresee it ending anytime soon. Is your body ready for the long haul?

Black Love Matters

Black love matters more than ever as we walk into this new era. 2016 reminded us to be woke and vigilant, but 2016 also drained our energy, or essence, and our hope dragging us into 2017 with barely anything left to give. And yet, we are still here. We are a people who have been built to persevere. We have been built to resist. We have been built to stand up for what is right and stand against all who oppose us. We are built to withstand what is to come. Black love has fueled protest, revolutions, and actions of our people for years. Black love matters so love yourself, love your community, love your people, love your experience, love your life, and love your blackness.

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