Celebrating Black Love Day; an alternative to Valentine’s Day


Ayo Handy-Kendi

Wondering how to further your understanding of black history whilst staying in the spirit for Valentine’s day? Try participating in Black Love Day today! In 1993, African American Holiday Association founder Ayo Handy-Kendi wanted to create a holiday that promoted love within her community after facing the violence surrounding said community. Modeled after Valentine’s Day, she called for February 13 to be a day to celebrate black people and culture, officially establishing it as Black Love Day. 


The holiday itself follows five tenets: love toward the creator, love for self, love for the family, love for the black community and love for black people. These go hand in hand with the Nguzo Saba, a set of principles associated with Kwanzaa. Overall, both groups of pillars are dedicated to encouraging unity within the black community at their core. 


Just like how Valentine’s day isn’t the only day to appreciate your partner, Black Love Day isn’t the only day you should love and celebrate the black community. Both holidays are only signifying the importance of finding love within one another and yourself, a message you should carry year-round. However, Black Love Day takes it a step further. 


In a society with a eurocentric beauty standard, it’s difficult for a black individual to see their features adored in television and magazines. Combine that with the systemic racism this country harbors, finding pride in their skin might fall second to feeling ashamed for it. Black Love Day counteracts this by being a holiday that focuses on the beauty of the black culture, something many black Americans may need to remind themselves of. While Valentine’s day brings cute tokens of a partner’s affection, Black Love Day pushes self-acceptance and encourages an appreciation of the black community not seen in our society. 


So, how do you celebrate it? If you’re black, take the day to uplift yourself and others and just love yourself unapologetically for being black. Follow hashtags, such as #BlackLoveDay on Twitter, to see how other members of the community are celebrating it and what their messages are for the holiday. Be on the lookout for virtual conferences and events that can further your experience, like this one which features prominent leaders in the black community. 


Furthermore, this isn’t a holiday exclusively celebrated by black people. While it may look different on how we celebrate it, white people are encouraged to take part on Feb. 13. The day is a great 24-hour period for introspection on their own treatment of the black community and how to support black voices. You can participate in some of the activities mentioned above, or even donate to the GoFundmes or Cashapps of black Americans.


Handy-Kendi also stated “Nya Akoma” is the official greeting for Black Love Day, meaning “get a heart” or love and be patient. The phrase comes from the African symbol Akoma which looks like a heart: ♡. 


This year’s theme is “Healing the Wounds that Divide; Re-uniting Our Strengths Thru Black Love.”