Artists and young professionals came together on Friday, Dec. 15, at the Tangent Gallery in Detroit to watch the documentary “Black Love: Detroit” by producer and director Angela Kilgore.
True to its name, the short documentary featured several Detroit residents who shared their experiences with love. From the notorious uh-its-complicated situationships, to marriage, to black love being self-love, the documentary portrayed how the ever-changing concept is materialized differently from person to person.
Following the documentary, Kilgore formed a diverse panel of seven single and married local artists and entrepreneurs to spark a conversation. Each panelist was asked questions specific to his or her relationship status, the most important being, what is black love?
For wife, mother and entrepreneur Shelbie Ali, black culture does not exist without black love.
“Black love is the best business you will ever be a part of,” Ali said. “It is a sacrifice, cultural, prideful, generous and enriching. It is motherhood.”
For father and husband Elijah Hill, black love is about compromise and sacrifice.
“Black love is not easy, but it is something to be had. You just need to want it and work for it,” Hill said.
For Kilgore, who considers herself single but in a situation with someone, the definition of black love is evolving.
“Black love is different because the struggles are different,” Kilgore said. “My parents met and married very young. They grew up during the ’70s when love did not mean economic progress. Although I was raised in and around love because nearly everyone in my family is married, I look at love differently than they do. For me, love is not only caring for your significant other, but receiving support to go to Howard Law School and follow my dreams.”
So how does black love differ from other types of love?
A lotus flower, black love is stunning in its ability to thrive and blossom despite the turmoil. It is hugging your son with a fear that he may never come home. It is raising your daughter to excel in white, male-dominated societies. It is enjoying the salty taste of chicken nuggets when your mother finally has McDonald’s money.
While black love can be complicated and sometimes unestablished, it is the foundation of the community. So if you find yourself discouraged about your relationship status, remember that black love is not one size fits all.