By Nikki Devonee Alston, Chief Program Officer, oneTILT
“Love recognizes no barriers. It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at its destination full of hope.” — Maya Angelou
The month of February has always ushered in a season of reflection and celebration for me. It’s the time we set aside to honor the past and dream of possibilities (via Black History & Futures Month). I celebrate my birthday on the 15th, which coincides with National Black Girl Magic Day, something I consider to be a lovely coincidence!
And, as someone who missed being born on Valentine’s Day by three hours, I often find myself contemplating love. This year, in particular, I’ve been compelled to explore my understanding of love, in relation to myself and my leadership practice. Typically when we think of love, we consider eros, which certainly has its place, but lately, I’ve been meditating on agape, the universal love. Agape love represents the love of humanity which, in my mind, is the catalyst to liberation.
As a Black child, I received messages about who deserved love and who did not, and I always found myself on the side of the “nots.” It was never explicitly stated, but communicated through the unexplained absence of loved ones; the ignorance of those who could not comprehend the splendor of my dark skin, and the resulting internalized oppression that would plague me in my search for worthiness.
Those themes continued into womanhood, so much so that I chose to close myself to the possibility that love could even exist for me, under the guise of protection. If I didn’t protect myself, who would? I realize today that such thoughts are rooted in scarcity, and scarcity has no place in a liberated existence.
So today, I am on a personal mission to boldly reclaim my love narrative. I’m rewriting my story, honoring the mistakes of the past, and forgiving myself and others for not knowing what we did not know. I’m creating a new future, with an open heart, firmly rooted in this truth:
The path is limitless. Love is abundant and if we truly embrace it, it will set us all free.