This piece is part of a 28-day series celebrating modern black love among millennials. It was created by Chuck Marcus and Michelle Nance, exclusively distributed by Blavity.
Tierra and Journi met in high school. At the time, they were just friends and focused on other priorities. But when the opportunity presented itself, a flame sparked and a romance was kindled. Originally from Miami, the two live in Stone Mountain, Georgia and take pride in doing love their way.
Her: Journi | 29 | Billing Analyst
Her: Tierra | 28 | Actress
Relationship Status: Dating, 3 Years
Q: What does black love mean to the black community?
Tierra: I feel like it's something that we need. It's something that is so necessary because we get everything but love, even from black people. We get hate. I feel like black love is what the black community needs so that we can stop being crabs in a barrel and just be one big community.
Journi: For me, I didn’t know what black love was. As I got older, I started experiencing different relationships, and with Tierra, it was a different to have someone with the same skin color share the same views. With her, it gets a little bit deeper because she gets a little deeper than me, but it’s the real deal. Growing up, I didn’t know what black love was because my parents got divorced when I was very young. So, to see all that affection and to say "I love you," I didn’t experience all of that.
Q: Do you think there’s sufficient/significant representation of black love in media? Are you encouraged or discouraged by those you see in real life or in media?
Journi: I think, in the media, I don’t see a lot of black love. You do see it from time to time with Jada Pinkett and Will Smith, Remy Ma and Papoose, but it’s not represented well. All you see in the media is blacks fighting. You don’t see love at all.
Tierra: I feel like they’re trying to do better with that. They even did the Black Love documentary. I feel like they’re trying to attempt to make the situation better, but I also feel like they need to go full force, like they go full force with everything else. If they go ham with black love like they do with everything else, then we’ll see it, but right now, it’s not a normalcy. In all honesty, especially being a theater student, it all looks like minstrelsy. It’s not real. It’s drama filled. They keep trying to make it reality when it’s really not. They keep making us put on a show because they are thinking viewers and ratings.
Q: What’s the hardest part about being a millennial in a relationship?
Tierra: Our parents’ generation doesn’t take us seriously. They feel like we didn’t do what they did to get where we are, so they feel like that’s not the way to do it, or you’re not serious or dedicated enough. We feel like we can cut all of that in half and still get the same results. I feel like they don’t understand our way of thinking because they’re so stubborn in their own ways. They feel like you have to put in so much into a relationship to tell if a person is for you, but not really. You can tell if a person is for you, especially if you live with them, right off the bat. I feel like their style of dating is outdated.
Journi: Being accepted for who you are. It’s not even just LGBT. Let’s say you bring a guy home and he has dreads and they’re not all twisted up right. It’s just being accepted. They feel like we’re not taking the time to find the true love we need, when we feel like we've already found it.
Q: Are there any individual relationship struggles that you had to overcome?
Tierra: Growing up. I never realized how spoiled, how babied or how taken care of I was by my parents until we started dating. She was like, “Why don’t you do this?” I was like, “Oh, I have to ask my mom. Oh, I have to talk to my mom.” And she would reply, “Who are you? Are you a kid?” I never sat back and realized that I'm supposed to be in control of that certain thing. Nobody else ever made me do that. They just reaped the benefits and thought that was OK. But not you [Journi], you wanted to really show that we are on that grown woman shit.
Journi: The hardest part for me was my way of living in the past. People call it petty. I was just so used to being petty. And to define petty, I mean cutthroat or tit-for-tat. When you love someone, you work on those things.
Q: Previous generations had clear and specific gender roles. How do you two define each other’s roles in your relationship, if at all?
Tierra: I don’t believe in that gender role shit, and I told Journi that from day one. Gender roles are very fluid to me. If I can’t do it, you can’t. If you can do it, I can too. I feel like, as homosexuals, we try so much to be like heterosexuals, and we’re not. That’s the whole point of having a homosexual relationship. I’m not going to be the girl who cooks and cleans, and you’re not going to be the guy, because you just aren’t. You’re not a guy. Whatever relationship you’re in, just make it work. If I like taking out the trash or mowing the grass, just let me do it because that’s what I like to do.
Journi: Yeah, we don’t have gender specific roles. Speaking sexually, yes [we do].
Q: Do you feel pressured by your family to be with someone who looks like you?
Tierra: Not in homosexuality. That was a whole different thing. I could have brought home any woman: black, white, Asian. The big thing was homosexuality. They didn’t care who I brought home, they just cared that it was just a girl. That’s what they were stuck on.
Journi: Same. But also, I don't think that if I'd shown my dad that I was messing with a white girl that he would have been OK. He’s not racist, but he’s big on our culture. He ran for commissioner. He’s really strong in the black community, so to bring home another culture, I think that he would have been like, “Why that?”
Q: What is it about having a black significant other that impacts you the most?
Tierra: Impacts? I don’t know. Empowers? Definitely. I feel like knowing her background and where she came from, and knowing that it’s rooted in for real blackness, that empowers me to figure out what I am, where I’m from and to figure out what I’m doing in the world. When I look at her, I feel like it’s us against the world, for real.
Journi: It empowers me to be able to hold different types of conversations. With everything that was going on with Colin Kaepernick and the police, Tierra and I could discuss those topics. We might have different views, but the fact that we’re from the same culture makes it a little easier to understand each other’s views.