Love comes in many forms, shapes, and sizes. The city of Philadelphia is nicknamed “the city of brotherly love” from 18th century Quaker William Penn, who imagined the city as a place where no matter your background, or the color of your skin, everyone could live together in harmony. While life is hardly holding hands and singing kumbaya, this same sense of harmony and love through hardship can be found throughout not only black romantic cinema, but also throughout black history within the United States. We can see this deeper black love by examining African-American history, and analyzing the movie “Poetic Justice”.
Black history in the United States is filled with absolute ugliness, hatred, and racism. However, black history in the United States is also a story of a people who through hardships and struggle, never succumbed to society’s prejudices. These hardships and struggles forged a connection between blacks that will exist throughout the history of time. Consider the oppression and institutions of slavery. “In this sense, slavery was traumatic in retrospect. and formed a primal scene- which could, potentially, unite all African Americans in the United States, whether or not they had themselves been slaves or had any knowledge of or feeling for Africa” (Eyerman 2001). Eyerman continues by saying, “Slavery formed the root of an emergent collective identity through an equally emergent collective memory, one that signified and distinguished a race, a people, or a community.” Even today as we are still fighting prejudice and racism, blacks will identify with one another in a way that’s incredibly unique with the human race. Deray Mckesson, a black mayoral candidate for the city of Baltimore, is an example of black exceptionalism. As one of the original leaders of Black Lives Matter, Deray has a deep understanding of why love is so incredibly important in forging relationships within black communities of Baltimore. One of his campaign slogans is “I love my blackness AND yours” and is one of the central themes to his message. This slogan very much exemplifies a deeper black love which has been seen throughout African-American history.
The movie “Poetic Justice” is a perfect representation of black love through hardship. At the beginning of the movie we find out that the main character Justice, was given her name by her late mother who gave birth to her while attending law school. Shortly into the movie Justice’s boyfriend is murdered right in front of her eyes, and she becomes incredibly depressed. The other main character in the movie, Lucky, has had to remove his daughter Kesha from her crack-addicted mothers apartment. The movie sets up the plot so that both of the main characters have faced incredible adversity in their lives, and this isn’t so different than the challenges many black Americans face on a daily basis. On the way to Oakland, Lucky and Justice stop at a family reunion and an African Cultural fair, and these two scenes beautifully summarizes what black love means. “The stops at the cultural festival and the family reunion suggest, as Edmondson writes, a positive engagement if not a “larger love for the black community, and the corresponding love that the community might give back, or the agape form of love, are sacrificed to eros, that is, to erotic or romantic love, represented in individualism and whiteness” (Sanchez pg 36). Both Lucky and Justice are recognizing their unique blackness and the love they will be able to provide each other in the future. While Lucky later in the movie blames Justice for the death of his cousin, they reconcile and share a passionate kiss while looking onto Lucky’s daughter with smiling eyes.
In conclusion, we can see that through hardships black Americans have faced, love will always endure in black culture and communities. This deeper black love can be seen rooted in American history, and throughout the movie “Poetic Justice”.
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