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.
Her: Sasha | 28 | PR & Marketing Manager
Him: Joseph | 31 | Software Engineer
Relationship Status: Together 10 Years
Sasha and Joe's love has spanned 10 years, and for a chunk of that time, they learned how to keep the flame burning from afar as they dated long distance. Now, they are building a home together in Atlanta and have learned how to push their bond to new boundaries.
Q: What does black love mean to the black community?
Sasha: Progression. Especially right now, with everything being so deluded. It’s important for younger people to see black love and to see it be a success. You can’t create generational wealth if you’re not loving each other. And that’s not just for a man and a woman, that goes for the kids, family members and others in the community, even if you don’t know them. You can’t love someone else’s culture more than you love your own, because I feel like that’s self-hate.
Joe: It helps the black community with setting an example. It definitely is progression.
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?
Joe: Black love is definitely not portrayed in the media. I feel like this generation is being led down a path of trying to make everyone feel accepted, so they’re mixing white and black heavily and trying to have interracial couples just to try to show a false sense of evolution of racism.
Sasha: I feel like they just think that’s what people want to see. Rappers want to go and get an exotic chick.
Joe: Even in TV shows and movies, it’s interracial couples. You have the black TV shows, but mainstream media will try to mix a lot of the couples. For example, with Will Smith, [in his movies] they always make his wife white.
Sasha: I feel like in the quest to make everyone feel included, they’re actually making black families excluded. It’s like they’re saying, "It’s OK to have a white mommy and black daddy," but there’s nothing saying it’s OK to be just black. I do think there are some examples. Of course you have your Barack Obamas and Jay-Zs.
Q: What’s the hardest part about being a millennial in a relationship?
Sasha: I would say social media. The expectations of social media. Millennials have a problem with giving people too much information about their relationship and allowing other people to run their relationship.
Joe: I think people try to show too much through social. I think people need to just live their life.
Sasha: But that’s not our struggle. We don’t follow each other on social media. I know myself and I can't go down that rabbit hole.
Q: Previous generations had clear and specific gender roles. How do you two define each other’s roles in your relationship, if at all?
Joe: I wouldn’t say there are defined roles, but we both have our set responsibilities. I’m more of the traditional type. I feel like it’s my responsibility to take care of things. I don’t feel like it’s forced or there’s something she has to do. If it’s not in your nature to do these things, I wouldn’t even go down that road with you. If she doesn’t naturally cook and clean, I’m not going to force her.
Sasha: I grew up traditionally, where I saw that my dad was the breadwinner; but at the same time, my mom wasn’t that domesticated, so that made me want to be more domesticated. Even before we were living together, I was cooking all the time, so it doesn’t seem like an “Oh my God, I gotta do this or he’s going to be upset.” If I don’t want to cook that day, I’m not cooking. It’s not so much like the old times, but it is a pretty traditional [relationship].
Q: Do you feel pressured by your family to be with someone who looks like you?
Sasha: Not me, probably him. He got an American, so that’s already out of the spectrum a little.
Joe: I wouldn’t say there’s pressure, but my mom will be alright. I’m Jamaican, so dating an American is already …
Sasha: I might as well be white.
Joe: It’s nothing serious, though.
Q: Are there any individual relationship struggles that you had to overcome?
Sasha: We were long distance for a long time. Millennial women are a little more assertive, and now go for their careers a little more. I lived in New York and he was in Florida, and we did that for three or four years. That wasn’t normal back in the day. You’re going to stay wherever the guy is. So I think that figuring out how to do that and still have a relationship, once we came back together, we basically had to build a new relationship.
Joe: I agree with that. [It was a struggle] actually living together in the same city. You go from long distance, just talking on the phone, taking a trip and just going here and there, to actually living together and being around each other everyday. Not going out and having fun everyday, but actually living life [together] everyday. You get to see a lot of the bad.
Q: What is it about having a black significant other that impacts you the most?
Joe: I just don’t feel like anyone else can relate. It’s hard enough to find a black significant other who can relate, let alone finding someone outside the race who can relate.
Sasha: I think that on top of that, you want to feel comfortable in your skin, and you already have to conform. I’m a different person at work than I am here. When you’re at home, you should be able to relax and just be comfortable in your skin. I feel like I wouldn’t [be able to do that] if I wasn’t in a black relationship.