LOS ANGELES - Love is in the air and it has very little to do with Hallmark cards, boxes of chocolate and flowers.
Every year on Feb. 13 the unique power of love within black culture is celebrated on Black Love Day.
In 1993, Ayo Handy-Kendi, the founder of the African American Holiday Association, created Black Love Day as an alternative to Valentine’s Day for black Americans.
While love is a universal concept, Black Love Day is about embracing black culture and practicing the following five tenets: love for the creator, self, family, black community and the black race.
“We encourage people on this day to do something very simple—just demonstrate love for 24 hours, and celebrate and atone, offer forgiveness to ourselves and to others, and to accept the very important tenets,” Handy-Kendi told Daily Dot.
Black Love Day also aims to increase peace, stop self-hatred and foster healthy relationships between black and white Americans.
This year’s Black Love Day theme, “Reparations 2 Repair 2 Reconcile 2 Restore the LOVE,” focuses specifically on race relations and putting the fifth tenet of demonstrating love for the black race into action.
In a press release, Handy-Kendi said she acknowledges the controversy that the concept of reparations ignites, but believes that conversations across racial lines about the issue will ultimately strengthen race relations in the country.
“Black people must love themselves enough to have these uncomfortable discussions, so we can reconcile our distrust, a part of slavery’s conditioning, release our anger and push forward to heal and grow in unity,” Handy-Kendi said.
“White folk on BLD can work on their denial that damages were done that must be repaired, and by this admittance, come to reality that their wealth, power and privilege was earned on the backs of Black folk, who they owe an enormous debt.”
Since its creation, Black Love Day has expanded to include events and inspired festivities like the annual Black L.U.V. Festival in Washington, D.C.
On social media, people are using the hashtag #BlackLoveDay to share their own black love stories and champion all things black.