Black Creators Share Their Favourite Movies, TV Shows & Books About Black Love

Nothing quite compares to the feeling of Black love being captured in its true essence. Slowly but surely, multifaceted stories are emerging which depict Black love in all its forms – romantic, friendship, collective and even self-embraced – and transcend trauma porn plots to blossom into more meaningful bodies of work.
In August we saw the arrival of Angel Kristi Williams’ Really Love on Netflix. Although it received mixed reviews for being a slow burner, the film represented – for the most part – a simple notion: two young Black people falling in love. Sylvie’s Love, written and directed by Eugene Ashe, explored this further by reimagining Black romance in the '60s, while Barry Jenkins’ Moonlight offered a coming-of-age tale against the backdrop of a decade-long love story. On the small screen, Insecure's protagonist Issa leads a chaotic love life as the show delves deep into the beauty that lies within female friendships. 
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Against the sultry sounds of R&B and neo soul, the '90s gave us a complicated romance in Love Jones, closely followed by timeless '00s classics Brown Sugar and Love & Basketball.
It’s not limited to film and TV, it’s everywhere. Across the cultural realm, different love stories are embracing the many perspectives of Black love. To explore this further, for Black History Month, we asked some of the UK’s Black storytellers to share their favourite depictions of Black love – old, present and new.
What does Black love mean to you?
Melissa: Black love in a way suggests that our love is an outlier. But when I think of Black love, I think of pride, joy, celebration and laughter. It can be found in Langston Hughes’ poems or in your grandma's home-cooked fried chicken. It's everywhere. It's unexplainable yet understood by all those who are privileged enough to experience it.
Natalie: Black love is a manifestation of love and care between Black people. It's my daily life. It's my love for my best friends, my love for and from my family, my love when I'm rooting for everybody Black. To me, Grown is a body of Black love: Black women pouring love, support, guidance and empowerment into young Black women.
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Melissa Cummings-Quarry and Natalie A. Carter
What is a classic or nostalgic pick that depicts Black love in a way you connect with?
Melissa: The love shared between Shug Avery and Celie in Alice Walker's seminal novel The Color Purple is one of the most powerful depictions of Black love. Shug not only showed Celie what it meant to be loved and in love but – most importantly in a world where Black women are often told we aren't worthy or deserving of love – Shug ensured that Celie knew she was enough.
Natalie: The Color Purple was the first example I saw of the power of Black love between Black women. I actually watched the film before I read the book and this was the first time I saw strong relationships between Black women on the screen.
What is one new pick you’re looking forward to? 
Melissa: Empress & Aniya, Candice Carty-Williams' debut YA novel. It's a story rooted in teenage friendship and Black girlhood. For me, there is nothing that embodies Black love more than sisterhood and the unbreakable bonds between best friends.
Natalie: I loved reading Empress & Aniya by Candice Carty-Williams. Seeing two young Black girls build a true and honest friendship really took me back to my teenage years and the friendships I built, which I still hold dear to me 'til this day.
Empress & Aniya by Candice Carty-Williams is out on 7th October.
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Nosa Eke
Nosa Eke, writer, filmmaker and director of Channel 4 comedy Big Age 
What does Black love mean to you?
Black love is security, it sparks excitement in experiencing the world through its lens and also brings me a sense of ease. Photographer Kennedi Carter captures Black love in a number of forms within her work and what I love is that her photos really portray a pocket of solace between two Black lovers that translates to some of the most intimate photos I’ve seen.
What is a classic or nostalgic pick that depicts Black love in a way you connect with?
A nostalgic pick would be the Two Twos podcast, hosted by Nana and Ro who are two Black lesbians speaking their truth with no filter for a number of years now. This is a podcast between friends but I still feel like it encompasses the Black female friendship kind of love that is important to me in my everyday life.
What is one new pick you’re looking forward to?
It’s already out in the world but I find myself loving a piece that artist Gyimah Gariba made and donated to the LGBT+ Rights Ghana fundraiser. Seeing this kind of queer African imagery of Black love as a queer African person feels very hopeful and validating.
Habiba Katsha
Habiba Katsha, writer, journalist and co-host of Island Gyals Podcast
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What does Black love mean to you? 
Black love means community, joy and overall just seeing Black people being their true authentic self. This might seem cliche but Black Joy, which is a collection of essays edited by Charlie Brinkhurst-Cuff, is the perfect example of this. It took me away from the daily trauma that Black people have to deal with and instead reminded me of the beauty of being Black.
What is a classic or nostalgic pick that depicts Black love in a way you connect with?
The Best Man Holiday is honestly one of my favourite good-time movies. I think the overall theme of Black people coming together during the holidays through times of struggle is beautiful to watch. And it doesn’t hurt that the film features men like Taye Diggs and Morris Chestnut either.
What is one new pick you’re looking forward to?
Insecure! It not only looks at Black romantic love but the importance of Black friendships too. Issa does a great job of making the show unapologetically Black, relatable while teaching valuable lessons.
Season 5 of Insecure premieres on HBO on 24th October.
Jasmine Braithwaite
Jasmine Braithwaite, co-host of award-winning podcast Black Gals Livin’
What does Black love mean to you?
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Black love is unique because there’s a lot of pain associated within Blackness but there’s also so much love that we have to give. It signifies strength. Black love is freedom. An American Marriage by Tayari Jones reflects this. The story incorporates many issues that the Black community resonate with, including racism, the legal system and even the 'nice guy' dynamic.
What is a classic or nostalgic pick that depicts Black love in a way you connect with?
The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. That was the first time I saw a Black family represented on TV in such a way. Love is taking in extended families to give them a better chance at life. Many Black people can relate to that. Black love can also be a very happy nuclear family, society would tell you otherwise though!
What is one new pick you’re looking forward to?
It has to be Insecure. It embodies self-love, platonic love and romantic love. Insecure shows Black people navigating life just being Black. It is the closest thing we’ve had to real life in recent years. There’s too much to unpack here but Insecure embodies how perfectly imperfect Black love is.
Rose and Nana
Rose Frimpong and Nana Duncan, hosts of Two Twos Podcast
What does Black love mean to you?
Rose: Black love means safety, not having to explain your existence and an understanding that comes from a place of familiarity. The poetry in Loved By You by Nana Duncan – a short film about Black queer love – matched with the visuals really depicts what my version of Black love is.
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Nana: Black love means home to me because I feel safe in it. It is being fully vulnerable, knowing that I will be held. It is not having to explain certain things about my culture because my Black love already understands.
What is a classic or nostalgic pick that depicts Black love in a way you connect with?
Rose: It has to be Love & Basketball for me. Everyone laughs when I say this but I saw myself in Monica as a teenager. Although her character wasn’t queer, I did identify with some of the challenges she faced as a tomboy, including the clashes she had with her family and her journey with finding love.
Nana: Moonlight is already a classic in my eyes. It’s sad to say but before then I had never seen Black queer love depicted so raw and honest. For me it was the relationship between Chiron and Juan that taught me about love – having someone who experiences the world in a similar way to you love you through the good and the bad.
What is one new pick you’re looking forward to?
Rose: Black Joy. I am really looking forward to reading the anthologies from different Black British people speaking about what Black joy means to them. It being an anthology as well, I hope it gets read in schools to help young Black people identify there are so many ways to find joy.
Nana: I am looking forward to Insecure Season 5. Even though it’s an American show, I am so grateful because it’s blackity Black and it’s hilarious. There are a lot of shows and movies out there that depict Black pain and with Insecure it’s the opposite of that, it’s Black joy. It’s a show that lifts me up as a Black womxn and I love that about it.
Black Joy, edited by Charlie Brinkhurst-Cuff and Timi Sotire, is out now.

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