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Love is a funny thing.

For instance, I do not love America.

In theory, I love the ideals it was built upon, but once I think about the genocide, racism and rape that are deeply rooted in the founding of this country and the fact that the “every man is created equal” line really only applies to wealthy, White, heterosexual men, my love tank for my country of birth is hitting E.

Valentine’s Day is supposed to be all about love, but one year into the presidency of one of the most divisive and unqualified commanders in chief in recent history, it hardly feels appropriate to celebrate with heart-shaped candy, over-priced bouquets, corny cards and all the other traditional trappings of this popular commercial holiday.

Hard-working, tax-paying immigrants are being threatened with deportation to countries they haven’t been to since they were in diapers. The Trump administration is aiming to gut important institutions like the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Endowment for the Arts. Those agencies protect and nurture the resources that help shape the natural and cultural character of the United States.

Trump is also snatching away funds from the average person in order to ease the “tax burden” of one-percenters and multi-billion dollar corporations.

READ MORE: Barack & Michelle Are Forever Valentines

Who on earth should be thinking about love of all things at such a critical time in our nation and our world’s history?

Well, I would argue that Black folks should have love on the brain. I’m not advocating for spending money on pricey dinner reservations or pretty flowers that will wilt in a couple of days. I’m talking about Black people focusing on love for ourselves—the type of love that builds and protections nations, knowledge, and generational wealth.

We are who we’ve been waiting for. We don’t have even a mirage of a friend in the White House. All of those “polite” racists who had previously restricted their most vile barbs for tough typing from anonymous Twitter accounts are now out and proud racists. Some even run for office under their full government names with policy agendas that are so openly racist, it’s a wonder that the word “nigger” hasn’t been part of someone’s political slogan.

Who on earth should be thinking about love of all things at such a critical time in our nation and our world’s history?

Given this current (and it’s not like it’s new) hostile environment, we as Black people have to respect and acknowledge our needs. That means patronizing Black businesses. That means supporting organizations that disrupt the school to prison pipeline. That also means being decent humans to each other.

Sometimes this 24-hour news cycle and the need/desire to comment on everything first and be the funniest and wittiest at all times results in mean-spirited and unnecessary dragging. Black folks get enough micro- (and macro-) aggressions at work, in public, as customers and so on and so forth. The last thing we need to do is drag each other down.

That doesn’t mean you should allow some unintelligent, sexist, knuckle-dragging dolt to spew misinformation or harm people. By all means, check those who need it. People like R. Kelly have to go. Predators, especially those who prey on our own, are not part of this movement and can step directly into the nearest trash can.

But keep in mind that it’s possible to offer a loving critique when appropriate (Except R. Kelly. No loving critiques for him.) and not every “news” topic deserves or warrants commentary.

We don’t live in Wakanda and most of our versions of vibranium have been gutted and exploited for centuries, but we can work to nurture an African diaspora that is at once strong, supportive and our ancestors’ wildest dreams.

I don’t love America, but I am celebrating Valentine’s Day because I do love Black people and I do love Black culture. Let’s build.


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