1. Build Connections & Community
Our interactions, shared experiences, and shared goals allow us to create, plan, and implement strategic plans to reach shared goals. It enhances our sense of belonging and provides us with endless resources. Our love for one another, our community, grants us the ability to advocate for ourselves and each other, support each other, and overcome any threats that attempt to destroy our personal, emotional, physical, or cognitive well-being. We are our strongest ally. With the connections, resources, and safety nets that the community offers, we can build the future we envision for our future generations.
2. Display Mutual Understanding & Trust
Our community can only thrive when trust and mutual understanding are the foundation for every interaction. If our interactions are seasoned with fear of being hurt, we cannot move forward in our community building, goal-reaching, or Black love. The trust we have for one another is displayed through our confidence that we will do right by each other – not always what the other wants but causing no harm. Mutual understanding is the ability to grasp the meaning, not always agreeing, of actions, behaviors, thoughts, or emotions. Mutual understanding grows trust. It enhances the confidence I have in you and allows me to see multiple sides of any story to ensure no malicious intent or harm. Mutual understanding and trust permit us to grow and learn together.
3. Grow and Learn Together
Black love is growing and learning together. We have the resources to build influential and powerful neighborhoods, cities, and nations. We have teachers, neurosurgeons, astrophysicists, mothers, fathers, and more to ensure that our communities have the best. We have varied skill sets that provide us with security, safety, and knowledge. When we learn and grow together, we learn more. We adapt to each other's needs, and because our trust is maintained, we value each other's knowledge, judgments, and opinions more than before. Since 2017, the Black Youth Project has been combatting the traumatic stereotypes with Black joy through their Black Joy Project (Cruz, 2017). Growing and learning together increases our confidence in ourselves and each other while making our community grounded in Black love more powerful.
4. Be Vulnerable & Patient
Being vulnerable is not a weakness. Instead, we are examining our most profoundly scary feelings when we are vulnerable. Not alone, but in the communities we have built. Because of the understanding and trust we have for one another, sharing our vulnerabilities will open us up to new, honest, and needed perspectives for us to grow and learn. We want to be seen and valued as we are while also learning and growing to become better versions of ourselves. We want the intimacy that comes with being our authentic selves rather than relationships built on false identities. Being comfortable sharing vulnerable insights and cultivating patience forces us to pause and make better decisions. Our interactions will be based on love, caring, and understanding. We will fulfill our needs and desires because we are willing to share what we truly want and need with each other. We will thrive from our ability to freely be ourselves and reveal how our perceived weaknesses strengthen our communities.
5. Offer Security & Safety
Love me for who I am. Don't attempt to make me who you think I should be. Love me, build community with me, teach me while learning from me, trust me, and understand me.
Carissa McCray, PhD., is an English instructor in K12 education. Her work focuses on redefining the educational trajectory for students of color that addresses equitable education, rural education, and the impact of trauma. Her ongoing scholarship and practitioner-based work is driven by the vision to create equitable learning opportunities by including multicultural literature, media, and curricula.