Have you heard of Black Love Day?

Feb. 13 marks yet another holiday during Black History Month, intended to celebrate our love of the Black community, culture and each other

If you’re reading this, you’re no doubt already well accustomed to the annual recognition of Black History Month each February, celebrating the achievements and contributions of Black people throughout American history. And you’re likely equally familiar with Valentine’s Day, universally acknowledged as the day of love.

But have you heard of Black Love Day?

Photo: AdobeStock

Now in its 19th year, Black Love Day was founded in 1993 by author, breathwork practitioner and “Kwanzaa griot” Ayo Handy-Kendi — also known as Sekou Mama Ayo — as a means to not only celebrate Black history and our cultural heroes but also preserve and protect our culture for future generations.

“Based on five tenets — love toward the Creator, love for self, love for the family, love within the Black community and love for Black people — Black Love Day was created to end violence, self-hatred amongst Black people and racism to increase peace,” according to the Chicago Defender.

If Black History Month asks us to reflect on our rich legacy, Black Love Day is a call-to-action to preserve it, intended as a jumping-off point for a year full of positive intention as well as offering “a spiritual, African-centered alternative to the commercialized, and sometimes violent Valentine’s Day,” according to Handy-Kendi‘s African American Holiday Association (AAHA).

This year’s theme is “Finding Spiritual Joy Thru Black Love,” a means of “inspiring hope in a time of trauma, fear, and COVID burn-out by acknowledging the Creator as our source,” the Defender reports, adding that “choosing joy over fear and viewing love as self-help within the Black community” are at the core of the holiday’s mission for 2022.

As further explained by Sekou Mama Ayo via the AAHA website:

“Without question, the world is facing uncertain times and extreme challenges, so our 2022 theme envisions a collective focus on the first tenet of BLD: ‘Love for the Creator’ — to inspire hope, resilience and joy to reduce fear, grief and trauma. The times require we stay prayed up to our Higher Power, so we can feel Black Joy despite the times. Stop pointing at the government but instead point up and within for self-determination. Yes, Black people have struggled disproportionately than White people due to COVID related deaths, illnesses and economic down-turns.  But, we can’t afford to get COVID ‘burned out.’ Yes, we’re overwhelmed by violence, grief, trauma, racism, but in the best of times and worst of times, when facing historical, major challenges, The Creator sustained us and our love fostered self-help as a unified vibration of joy because love is opposite of fear. Stay connected to each other and breathe in the Creator’s love as our sustaining power to experience Spiritual Joy through our Black Love.”

Credit: AAHA
Image: AAHA

Significantly, Black Love Day isn’t a celebration solely intended for the Black community.

“If you’re not a Black person, it is recommended to show love in action toward Black people, by working on your own racial attitudes and behaviors,” the AAHA states on its website.

Black Love Day festivities began on Saturday, Feb. 12 and continue throughout the weekend. Those interested in joining and setting an intention to seek spiritual joy this year can do so at the Black Love Day Relationship Ceremony, hosted by Handy-Kendi and taking place on Sunday, Feb. 13 from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. ET.

While donations to AAHA are welcome, the event is free. Registration is available on the holiday’s event page.

Maiysha Kai is Lifestyle Editor of theGrio, covering all things Black and beautiful. Her work is informed by two decades’ experience in the fashion and entertainment industries, a love of great books and aesthetics, and the indomitable brilliance of Black culture. She is also the editor of the YA anthology Body (Words of Change series).

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