Love at Sewanee: Black Student Union hosts panel discussion on Black Love


McGriff Alumni House, where the Black Love panel took place. Photo courtesy of Sewanee’s Flickr.

By Jasmine Huang
Junior Editor

After walking through doors propped wide open in welcome and inspecting the variety of Mountain Goat Market sandwiches, students waited patiently for the Black Student Union’s (BSU) panel discussion on Black Love. In honor of Valentine’s Day, the BSU hosted this event in the McGriff Alumni House to provide a conversation exploring love and relationships within the black community.

BSU president Miles Martin (C’20) acted as moderator, while Joey Adams (C’18), Chandler Davenport (C’19), Adriana Jones-Quaidoo (C’20), Letherio Jones Jr. (C’21), and Brandon Iracks-Edelin (C’18) spoke as panelists. Together, the group voiced dynamic, wise, and, at times, humorous thoughts on the abstract of love and its role in family, friendships, and romance.

Sitting beside the panelists with a pen and a list of questions in hand, Martin began the dialogue by asking, “What is Black Love and [what is] its significance in your life?” Following a pause, one by one the panelists spoke up.

“Growing up, I didn’t like being black because all of that negative media that was going on,” said Iracks-Edelin. However, he explained that after talking with close friends, his perspective changed. “It’s that self-love, learning to love our skin, our culture associated, the pain, the endurance, the survival, and pride too. I think that’s what makes me more comfortable in my skin,” he explained.

Jones echoed a similar sentiment, commenting, “For me, I think Black Love is about the internal emotion, but it’s more of an external expression.” He continued, “Internally, I feel like you need to be first comfortable in your skin, so speaking from a Black Love perspective, I must love myself, my culture, where I came from, to love other people and their culture.”

During a particular set of questions, which resulted in an entertaining round of banter between Martin and the audience, the panelists gave answers with equal sagacity and humor. Some of the issues discussed included the effort that love takes, as well as the problems of miscommunication, and the degrees to which love is felt.

Adams replied, “I’ve learned that a relationship will never be 50/50. It is days where a person is lacking in that aspect within a relationship, or partnership, or friendship, whatever case may be, and it’s up to this individual to pick that person up. So it’s a yin and a yang, a half and a half.”

Davenport added, “It takes work to actively show love everyday, especially as people who are college students, as people of color, we go through things on our own.” She maintained, “Sometimes there’ll just be days where you’re just like, ‘I can’t.’ And that’s okay, because you know you have people around that, as Joey said, will fill that gap that day.”

Nonetheless, Davenport also strongly emphasized, “No matter what the relationship is, I’m never going to give more than I’ve got for me.” Accompanied by the crowd’s snaps of agreement, she concluded, “Because I came into this world by my black ass self, and I’m gonna leave by black ass self, and if I have nothing to carry me out with, I’ve given too much.”

Overall, the speakers shared similar opinions on the emotion’s weight, influence, and support. Having meaningful conversation, audience members and panelists worked through questions and answers to define love and understand its nuances. As Jones-Quaidoo said, “Love should be that authentic and transparent that you should know when somebody loves you…Tell the person ‘I love you,’ or ask them, ‘how do you feel?’ Love is about transparency and you can’t be transparent if you never open your mouth.”