Oh, the ides of winter and the holiday season that never seems to cease. It is officially almost Valentine's Day. Like many other holidays on any given cultural calendar, there is love and there is hate for people near and far with respect to Valentine's Day for reasons plenty and few. No matter what your plans are or aren't for the day, I'd like to take a moment to appreciate black love in what I believe to be its truest (albeit most fictional) form.
Those who know me can probably guess where I'm going with this.
Let me start by saying that this is not an exhaustive list of black love movies, not by a long stretch. They're just my personal favorites (and by favorites, I mean that I watch them and/or listen to their respective soundtracks on a monthly, if not weekly, basis). Hopefully, this shortlist will give you a little lovespiration in advance of 2/14.
I don't even know where to start with Love Jones. I live, breathe, and love this movie. This picture is actually the background on my personal laptop. As it pertains to Valentine's Day specifically, though, I think it's important to note that this movie stands out against its peers when it's comes to dating. Darius and Nina were really on moves - swing dancing, reggae clubbing, you name it, they did it. If you're still looking for something fun and spontaneous to get into with bae this week or weekend, consider putting on your dancing shoes and spending the night matching each other's rhythm and blues. For Nina.
And here we have Syd and Dre. The perfect example of the "bestie couple." One of my favorite scenes in this movie involves Syd's astonishment at Dre's confession that he's not only read, but also memorized individual quotes from one of her written works. Devoting time to understanding and appreciating your lover's passion projects and career outputs is a language of love. There are plenty of ways to incorporate that level of thoughtfulness (whether built up over time or cultivated for Valentine's Day) into a gift or activity. As with much in life, success is a function of attentiveness. Surprise your sweetheart with a list of the cool things that they've done lately and why you've enjoyed watching them get into their zone (whether that's working out more, starting a new painting, or simply taking better care of themselves). A little noticing goes a long way.
I'm not finished with Brown Sugar just yet. When it comes to friendship, Syd and Dre weren't new to this, they were true to this. So much respect and adoration for the sandbox baes, who've grown and glown together.
Is there even a past tense of "glo up?" There is now...
Finding new, creative things to do with someone that you've spent years living and loving with can be equally as exciting as it can be daunting. Break out your thinking cap this Valentine's Day and either re-create some of the special moments from your long history as lovers (first kiss, first date, etc.), hone in on a specific interest to develop a date day around (e.g. fitness day, spa day, etc.) or consider leveraging some of the tactics of the dating greats and planning your day around the activities that the characters did in your favorite movie. There's nothing wrong with taking a page out of someone else's book - as long as you both dig the genre.
“When people who been together a long time say that the romance is gone, what they're really saying is that they've exhausted the possibility."
- Darius Lovehall
All is fair and Love & Basketball. That means anything is fair game. Let that mindset apply to the level of pressure that you place on this holiday. It's so easy to get overwhelmed while brainstorming gift and date concepts when in the grand scheme of the craziness of work and play, sometimes it's nice to do exactly what Monica and Quincy are doing in this photo. Just chilling. Sometimes we forget that grandeur doesn't always signify success. Many would argue, and rightfully so, that if you're with the one you love and the mutual respect and care are there, every day should feel like Valentine's Day. I hope that goes for all of the lovers out there and if it does, don't let the societal pressure of doing it for the 'gram or flexing on your ex stop you from spending a quiet night in soaking up each other's presence. Or whooping each other in a game of indoor basketball...
There's also nothing wrong with using the holiday to shoot your shot. Grab your Best (wing)Man and enjoy an evening out on the town. Or shoot from half court (the DMs). There's nothing wrong with letting the wave of love carry you through the decision to take a chance and meet or engage with someone that you hadn't developed the moxy to reach out to before. If you make the three, it'll make for a great rhyming story: I met bae on Valentine's Day. If you miss, guess what? You will have lived to tell the tale. And if you don't have the energy to even try this year? That's more than okay, too. We all have those moments.
Try as many might, it's hard to shake the frustration that the holiday can bring on for many (whether single or in a strained or long-distance relationship). It's even harder to convince yourself to get up and get out when the city (or suburb) will be dating central for the foreseeable future until all of the candy hearts are off of the grocery store shelves they've taken over. Always remember, there is value in taking the day back and reminding yourself that as with everything else in life: Valentine's Day is what you make of it, no matter what your situation is.
Brief intermission to say that I'm still devastated by The Best Man Holiday. Whatever you do for Valentine's Day, don't watch that movie unless you want your emotional stability to be completely obliterated.
Kidding, it's your world.
“This here, right now, at this very moment, is all that matters to me. I love you. And that's urgent like a motherf**ker."
- Darius Lovehall
*wistful sigh* And I'll close with that - one of my favorite quotes of all time. Let there be love and let there be light, my people. Enjoy.