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.
Ja’Tia and Andre relish in the fact that they can comfort and understand one another based on common backgrounds. Their bond is strengthened by a mutual adoration for their HBCU alma mater, Florida A&M University. This Atlanta based couple speaks about how to maintain an analog love in a digital world.
Him: Andre | 31 | Staffing Manager
Her: Ja’Tia | 28 | Pharmacist
Relationship Status: Dating, 3 Years
Q: What does black love mean to the black community?
Andre: It means everything because without that, there is no sense of true community.
Ja’Tia: Black love means everything to the black community. We need to love one another in order to thrive as a community. Love makes people feel invincible, love makes people feel motivated and love inspires. I believe that in order to cultivate our community and to grow, black love is the key. In recent years, it’s been mainstreamed. It’s on TV, it’s on the radio, it’s in social media. Not only are people looking for it, they’re taking the time to do the work to get it and keep it.
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?
Andre: As of late, I do think there is a good representation of black love in the media. However, if we are comparing to other races, it’s not enough. I’m encouraged by what I see in the media.
Ja’Tia: I personally think there is a significant representation of black love in the media. For instance Black-ish, that show is the epitome of black love. Successful black parents raising black children. That show, in particular, encourages me because they make sure not to skate around subjects of race or anything else that may seem sensitive to others. These are things that will come up in my own household when we decide to start our own family. It’s completely relatable.
Q: What’s the hardest part about being a millennial in a relationship?
Andre: Keeping up with what’s necessary to portray true love to the outside world. Trying to finish school and trying to pay that off, and trying to get everything you want. And then, to realize that when you get in a relationship, it’s not all about you anymore.
Ja’Tia: Social media. As much as I hate to say it, it’s definitely a hard part of being in a millennial relationship. What is posted, when it’s posted, what is liked, why it was liked — it can definitely apply added pressure to a relationship.
Q: Previous generations had clear and specific gender roles. How do you two define each other’s roles in your relationship, if at all?
Andre: Our gender roles are more aligned with the times, but we do a good job at maintaining peace within our relationship.
Ja’Tia: We have a more traditional relationship in the sense of duties. We both do our part around the house, but I clean more and cook, while he takes trash out and fixes shit.
Q: Do you feel pressured by your family to be with someone who looks like you?
Ja’Tia: Completely! Specifically from my uncles. They are Miami grown, very vocal and very opinionated men. It has been clear that although they would love me and eventually like that person, that person and I would receive hell until that day comes.
Q: Are there any individual relationship struggles that you had to overcome?
Andre: Long distance and uprooting my life to a different city for someone I love.
Ja’Tia: Selfishness. Although I’m not the only child, I was the only child in my household, meaning that I had my own room and bathroom. When entering this relationship, I only thought about myself; what I wanted, when I wanted it. Finding out you’re with your true love — not the high school shit, not your first kiss or even first sexual partner, but someone who loves you just because you are you — makes you want to change everything for them. He is my soulmate and as hard as it is to change from what you have been programmed to do for so many years, knowing I’m doing it to make sure he’s mine forever makes it seem like the easiest thing in the world.
Q: What is it about having a black significant other that impacts you the most?
Andre: She understands my struggle.
Ja’Tia: He understands why I feel the way I feel about Donald Trump, or why I come home crying because another unarmed black man was killed. It means when I visit his parents, I know his mother’s collard greens gon' be bussin’! Going to an HBCU, especially the same HBCU, is even better.