Text: Funzani Mutsila
Photography: Joshua C. McKnight
So many times when I think about the revolution, love rarely comes to mind. I mean I am awfully aware that what drives my passion for revolution and discourse is my love for black people but there is always these intense negative emotions which completely override that sense of knowing. Emotions of anger, frustration, dissatisfaction and impatience take over at the thought of revolution. Also because speaking of love in the spaces I sometimes find myself in, may be relegated into “feel goodism” or “liberalism” or whatever other word that insinuate it being less revolutionary.
I had a conversation with my best friend Khanyisile (who is studying towards her PHD in clinical science and immunology by the way, I must mention this because black womxn stay inspiring at this life thing) about what could inform a complete re-creation of black communities. Through that conversing I realised that, that which binds us together as a people should always be love. That it may not be so now but that should be the fundamental basis of any form of communal re-creation and freedom from the shackles of an oppressive system.
I recall in one of the random conversations I had, someone saying “you will realise we are all one and we can never claim to love others and not love those that love them”. I allowed that very concise yet profound statement to digest. I then later realised how that could be read in the context of community, of the revolution. How that kind of love can manifest in a world where the existence of a healthy black love is a complete aberration.
I had been working on reconstructing and reconfiguring what an inclusive intimate love relationship could look like at least for my own self. I for many years did not completely possess a knowing of what I want in a relationship. I knew what I cannot compromise on and the deal breakers but not completely what I am actually looking for in a relationship. Heteronormative relations always have this toxicity about them and that, coupled with not being clear on what I wanted, landed me up in some toxic relations. The toxicity was not only from the romantic counterpart but from myself as well.
Heteronormativity, which is largely informed by patriarchy, dictates that the womxn make huge sacrifices for the man to succeed, whatever that “success” may look like. I’ve always had a fear of finding myself in a relationship which would debilitate me from accomplishing what I felt I was called for. So I’ve always been reluctant in actually having a stable relationship. Perhaps even so through divine power I had not been allowed to settle. It always comes off as if people are looking for a partner and not necessarily love and that came with the womxn having to hold back a lot of herself so as to accommodate the man and his needs. I felt that, that may limit me from what I felt and still feel is most sacred and imperative to my being and those are my passions, including serving black people. That I would end up in those nuclear relationships that revolve around me and the person I am involved with and that’s it. The thought of that sends me to dread.
Black radical feminism, with one of its core principle of agency, saved me in this regard. I am now able to define what this inclusive relationship means or looks like for me. I imagine a safe space where I know for sure that I and the partner aren’t bound to one another. Understanding that beyond the physical we have a spiritual mission that we need to see manifest into this dimension. That our love would not have the necessary strength if we do not identify what our collective contribution should be to the world, to make it a better one. That if we do not find ourselves as individuals first and then merge those two journeys together towards a particular end point then we are destined to an abyss of hopelessness and resentment. An inclusive relationship then means having to identify and define our love as a couple within the community.
This may sound idealistic but that’s where I believe the re-imagination of the world we live in, particularly for blacks should begin. Those who believe in the spiritual like my good friend Londeka, an absolute delight when it comes to cosmic knowledge, would tell you how love and connectedness goes beyond the physical. That DNA (which is ancestry) connects us together and if we understand this then we are to have more consideration for others. We are able to see parts of ourselves in others and therefore we would feel propelled to extend love and kindness to one another.
A partner should be a mirroring image of ourselves for us to purge out the childhood traumas we inhabited, to face parts of ourselves we are usually so embarrassed to face and generally allowing us to explore ourselves and grow into better humans, who would impart a different way of life to the black children we bear. When we work at loving ourselves we are able to extend that love to our partners and to the community.
In the midst of understanding the profoundness of love we need to learn how to let go. It is Audre Lorde who speaks about learning how to love and resist at the same time, how that’s important for survival. Resistance also comes with an immense ability to let go of toxic ways we have been indoctrinated with. At the basis of possessiveness is our incapability to let go and entitlement. There is this deep sense of liberation that the act of letting go gifts one with. Allowing ourselves to spout those insecurities and being vulnerable whilst giving others their space. Black love for me then becomes more prominent than any form of resistance.