'Love Is__' Showed Me What Love Is Not

Her Voice

I fell in love with the show Love Is__ as soon as I heard Nuri, half of the show's couple, ask, "Why can't a woman expect her partner to match her efforts and what she brings to the table... " or something to that effect. I was hooked. I immediately sent the 60-sec video clip to all of my independent but single homies and let them know that there was a new show to add to the roster while Black Love was on hiatus.

I was hyped to finally see a show that spoke to my own feelings about dating in this day and age. You know how it goes, the cycle where you're over-qualified for the position, put in work to heal and find a man but in the midst of his situation, asks you to pause all the ish you have going on to wait for him to get it together. It's not like I had been showing up to the table empty-handed or anything. I arrive drama-free, baggage-free, with my toolbelt in tow, my own business(es), and a renewed heart and mind. I worked on that list and I'm proud of it. Reciprocity, I've learned, is something that I'm just not willing to budge on when it comes to love, relationships, and more importantly, intimate relationships. However, a few episodes in Love Is__, I realized that in true OWN fashion, the show was never created to define love. It was created to begin a dialogue. Sure, Webster has a definition but it looks and feels differently to us all.

To be quite honest - we've all dated a few Yasirs and chile, my series would have been titled Love Is__Not.

OWN network

So, full transparency, I was dating a Yasir throughout the course of the first season: Good-looking, kind, caring, and under construction. As an emotional, way too understanding Pisces, it was easy for me to overlook the time we went to eat when he told me the ATM didn't accept his card for some unknown reason on the third date. 'What's $20 that I had laying around in my purse anyway?', I thought. I have trust issues, so I don't leave home unless I have coins for my food and a way home anyway, so it really was no biggie. Another time I overlooked, was when my Yasir showered me with designer perfumes for my birthday, knowing full well that I had seen them in his closet months before in some old bag.

It's safe to say my situation definitely contributed to my obsession with the show. I was curious as to how this young professional could possibly be content long-term with a man whose current place of residence was his ex-girlfriend's house. However, I mentally checked out when Nuri called Yasir's ex to speak with him because that was where he lived at the time. 'Wait, what?' was My exact reaction. While I appreciate that this story is the recreation of Mara Brock Akil's love story and that things worked out in the end - it's important that we understand that Love is not a one size fits all kind of thing.

Given my personal experiences where love is concerned, I just wouldn't be able to overlook that sort of thing. Dude's plate sounds full and I certainly wouldn't be auditioning to be his dessert or anything else. Now I understand Yasir was really freeloading because funds were tight but if the only option the dude I'm dating has is to lay his head at his ex's place, then I'm out. I'm whole and healed, and my insecurities been checked, but what *clap* do *clap* I *clap* look *clap* like? It all comes down to understanding what Love looks like and feels like to you. I skimmed through a book called The 5 Love Languages once - it basically broke down the ways that people generally like to receive love. For some, it may be words of affirmation, for others it may be quality time.


Nuri's outspoken colleague attempts to remove her rose-colored glasses and fail, her mama tries to get her to see the light and fails. The reason no one can get through to Nuri is because sis knows what she wants and needs and understands that although it doesn't really make sense, Yasir is it. By the end of the Black Love doc, my jaw was on the floor with all that these people put up with in the name of love. That's because it isn't supposed to make sense. I don't mean the type of nonsense that clouds your vision from leaving an abusive situation. I mean the type of nonsense where you don't feel even an ounce of doubt or confusion. It just feels right. While Nuri may have been playing the field whilst getting to know Yasir, she knew from jump that she just couldn't get enough of the way he made her feel, even when it made sense to nobody else BUT her.

I had a conversation with a few of my girls about the show and had an a-ha moment when one of them said to me, "Most relationships lose their glitz and glamor when you start to really learn the things they've put up with to maintain the relationship." I think that before advancing the necessary agenda and narrative that Black Love actually exists, Mara Brock Akil wanted us to know that it doesn't really look like that crap you grew up watching on the movies. The kind where successful man meets successful woman, together they decide to raise a family, have babies, buy the house with the picket fence and all that other jazz. I mean those are usually typical pit stops along the journey but there's a whole lot of cussing, huffing and puffing, sometimes infidelity, infidelity that led to children outside the relationship, and not liking but still loving your partner wrapped up during it all.

The older I get and the more I learn about love, is the more I realize that four letter word just means compromise, forgiveness, understanding, someone that's worth it, and a splash of relentless faith.

OWN network

I don't want to burst your bubble (trust and believe, I almost burst my own writing this here post, sis) but no, you probably won't meet this man with all his ducks in a row, bills paid on time, 50% of his down payment saved for his future home with his future wife and family, and all the other must-have requirements you may have on your proverbial checklist. He will be a work in progress with a few chips in his shoulder and a wavering self-esteem - just like you and the rest of us on this beautiful planet. It all comes down to choosing somebody that speaks your love language, warms your heart genuinely, and is honestly as tired of getting it wrong as you are. The dudes that you have to continuously advise on how to love you, why something hurts you, and where they're fucking up...consider them practice. They say you repeat a lesson until you've learned all it had to teach.

They were there to show you what love is...not.

xoNecole is always looking for new voices and empowering stories to add to our platform. If you have an interesting story or personal essay that you'd love to share, we'd love to hear from you. Contact us at submissons@xonecole.com.

ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.


We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
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Featured image by Shutterstock

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