Valentine's Day - Black Love
Merriam Webster defines love as (a) a strong affection for another arising out of kinship or personal ties (b) attraction based on sexual desire : affection and tenderness felt by lovers. Most defintions of love include various phrases involving attachment and affection. While these definitions are fine in general I would like to share one that resonates most with. One that goes a little deeper addresses action and not just feelings.
In All About Love , the amazing author, professor, feminist, and social activist bell hooks (yes she spells her name in all lower case) has eloquently defined love as ‘the will to extend one’s self for the the purpose of nurturing one’s own or another’s spiritual growth.’ Love is as love does. Love is an act of will–namely, both an intention and an action.” This is the love I can get with. It's rare that I see the the kind of love bell hooks talks about up close. I have finally found a couple that gives me hope and a little something to look forward to should my person come along!
My cousin Cedric and his girlfriend Tijahnni are a force. I am their solid third wheel and people are always asking me questions about them. I don't have all the answers, but I do know this love is genuine and authentic. They also happen to be easy on the eyes and completely adorable. When I decided to make an ode to black love (wrapping Black History Month and Valentine's Day with a bow) I knew they had to be my muses!
Below you can get to know Cedric and Tijahnni well as how much they know about each other. They answered the questions separately, but the alignment is heart warming. You will also see images of them interacting at Sip N Sonder (black owned coffee shop in Inglewood), wearing black brands (Stuzo and Nobody Jones Boutique), captured by a black woman (Ashley Osborne) and styled by me!
How did you guys meet?
Cedric: We met on Instagram via a mutual friend.
Tijahnni:Oh, we met on the gram. Started off innocent, thought he had a nice face, he thought I had a nice face. I eventually slid in his DM (yes me!) then boom! 3y ears later, we haven’t gone a day without loving each other.
What was your first date? How was it?
Cedric: Our first date was the day before Thanksgiving. We went to a Jamaican restaurant in Culver City. Then a party on The Standard rooftop bar in DTLA. The date wasn’t well formulated but ended up being amazing.
Tijahnni: Our first date was amazing. I was visiting home (LA) from Dallas at the time. We had been talking on the phone every day. It was our first time meeting in person. We went to have dinner at a Jamaican spot. Then we went for drinks across the street. After that we went to a party on the rooftop at the Standard hotel. Earry was the DJ so you know it was a vibe. We talked, danced, had our first kiss that night on the rooftop.
What’s your definition of love?
Cedric: My definition of love is becoming a walking embodiment of love. Being full of bliss and joy in everything that you do and everyone you come in contact with.
Tijahnni: To me love is the best part of every emotion. Its happiness, excitement, sometimes it’s scary or sad, but it’s necessary. It makes us human. Love makes us grow.
What’s your love language?
Cedric: My love language is physical touch.
Tijahnni: I was so sure of my love language. I just knew it was words of affirmation, but as I grow in love and love intentionally find that my love language is expanding. I try to show love and receive love from all angles; words, quality time, gifts, touch. All of them!
What’s your partner’s love language?
Cedric: Her love language is words of affirmation. Our love language is words of affirmation. We continuously encourage and inspire each other.
Tijahnni: Cedric’s love language is definitely physical touch. He’s like a little baby lol.
Is there any song that instantly reminds you of your partner? Do you have a “song”?
Cedric: You Are My Starship by Norman Connors instantly reminds me of her. I don’t think we have a song, but we do like Got Me by Dreamville.
Tijahnni: Yep! You Are My Starship by Norman Connors. He loves that song! When it comes on, he says, “You hear that?!” and he says “I’m his starship.” And any Hot Boys song lol.
In what ways is your relationship traditional?
Cedric: I’d say it’s traditional in terms of being monogamous and committed to each other.
Tijahnni:We both practice monogamy. We have dreams of a family, a house, a long-lasting marriage.
In what ways in your relationship nontraditional?
Cedric: It’s in nontraditional in the way we met, also with us taking chances in moving in together early in the relationship. Which helped us grow towards each other.
Tijahnni:Well we started off long distance for about 8 or 9 months. I think it made our relationship stronger.
What has your current relationship taught you about partnership?
Cedric: It has taught me patience that has transformed me into areas of growth.
Tijahnni:I’ve learned so much. This relationship has taught me how to communicate with intention. The intention may be to make him feel loved, heard, appreciated. It may be communicating so that he is clear on my thoughts and feelings or it can be communicating on our goals and plans.
What are the most important aspects of your relationship?
Tijahnni: We have lots of fun together and we are extremely goal oriented. We are also very considerate of each other, we include each other. I always remember something Cedric said years ago. "People just want to feel included". He was so right.
How do you deal with challenges as a couple?
Cedric: We deal with challenges by confronting them and talking it out like adults. Listening and understanding each other’s perspectives.
Tijahnni: We talk. We have conversations to understand each other. We refrain from saying things we may regret. Luckily, we are on the same page about most things. Ultimately, we both want the other to be happy.
What are his/her best qualities?
Cedric: Her best qualities is her support, creativity, her smile, and her ability to be herself at all times without being shy.
Tijahnni: Cedric works so so hard and he is very smart. I’m an independent woman, BUT I feel that he has the qualities of an amazing caregiver. I also love that he is always learning, very curious, always evolving. I know I’ll never get bored with him. I’m excited to grow and change together.
Do you have a favorite memory together?
Cedric: My favorite memory would be going to the 2017 BET Awards together.
Tijahnni: Our first date and spending Thanksgiving together the day after is very memorable. He came over for Thanksgiving the day after our first date and was immediately apart of the family.
What have you learned from her/him?
Cedric: I’ve learned to eliminate fear and live in love.
Tijahnni: Cedric is very calm and patient. I watch him and I am learning to be more patient.
Was it important for your partner to be a part of the same ethnicity and/or culture group as you?
Cedric: It’s important at this point in life when considering starting a future family. Continuing family legacies and keeping everything black.
Tijahnni: I am not against interracial partnership at all, but I feel very proud of our black love. I feel that it is very important. I feel like I’ve known him forever. We can share stories about our lives, upbringings, struggles, victories and we can relate completely because we are black.
Do you believe that Black love is radical?
Cedric: I wouldn’t say it is radical. More natural though, I believe it has gone through phases and we’re seeing a resurgence of more Black love. More appreciation of it and more representation of Black love.
Tijahnni: I sorta feel like healthy black love is radical, but we need to make it the norm. We need to get out here, love each other and show out!
Is there any relationship advice you-would like to share?
Cedric: Do your worrying before you place your bet. Worry and doubts can’t exist in the same space as love.
Tijahnni: Always remind yourself of why you love your partner. Never stop showing them. Hold on to memories, talk about the memories. Create new memories. Do things together. Make goals together, crush the goals, and then make new ones.
I can't get enough of them! I am very please with the outcome of this project and I hope you are too.
Thanks a wrap. Happy Valentine's day and Happy Black History Month!