Thandie and I so wanted to create a lovely blog post for Valentines Day.
I’ve been crazy busy making up Kirsten Dunst in Berlin for a press tour of Jeff Nichol’s new movie ‘Midnight Special’ and Thandie’s been full-pelt actress mama this weekend!
We’d originally assumed we were going to post a lovely ‘gifts for her’ type thing. Gorgeous, quirky undies, perhaps some wise quotes ‘on love’, perhaps some wondering on what ‘intimacy means’, sexuality from a female, rather than male gaze. A random stream of consciousness I was hoping would serendipitously flow together in harmony as it can…. when you have time on your hands.
On the very early morning’s call time on the 13th, I realized that this was so not gonna happen.
What to do? While making up Kirsten, I told her about my father coming from Trinidad, and my Mum being an English public school girl from the countryside, how she was engaged, but fell in love with my Dad instead at a time (late1950’s Britain!) where there were few people of colour in the UK.
My Mum was not an activist, she was not ‘radical’, ‘boho’, or ‘cool’. When I asked her what it must have been like to be with someone darker skinned than, well, pretty much everyone on the street at that time, she simply said “I fell in love with his hands.” Well they were lovely hands. And the amount that her unadulterated, sweet, sweet words said about what is technically-speaking only the level of melanin in a human being’s skin, has resonated with me every day of my life and has rooted me with a sense of self that melanin has little to do with.
With my heritage, how did I miss this juicy bit of American civil rights history? And what better way I thought, to ‘de-Hallmark’ a day that has made a bit of a cliché out of love? Knowing that I had no time to give this post the heartfelt focus it deserved, I asked our friend Tadiwa Wazara if she would lovingly write it for us instead! Thank you lovely one!
My name is Tadiwa, which in my native language Shona (one of Zimbabwe’s native languages) means ‘we are loved.’
Over the years, being given such a name has made me question what it means to truly love unconditionally. That is why it was an honour when I was asked to write a post especially for Valentine’s Day.
If so, it’s a rather simplified, commercialized version-but before you think I’m being overly cynical, please bear with me!
The day that now symbolizes flowers, chocolates, a posh dinner and big bucks for Hallmark actually dates back to the third century and a Roman called ‘Saint Valentine aka ‘Mr. Love Himself’!
This guy had a strong belief in the power of love. So strong that it drove him to marry young couples who had a love that neither the families, nor those that ruled over them approved of.
Saint Valentine understood the value of love, so much so that it inspired in him the courage to stand against the law and literally give his own life- all for the sake of the love between two other people.
To me, his acts were extremely brave, bringing into perspective what it really means to tell someone that you love them.
The upcoming movie ‘Loving vs. Virginia’ directed by Jeff Nichols follows the true story of an interracial relationship between Richard Loving, a white man and his lover Mildred Delores, an African-American woman. Their true love story is based in 1958 segregated America, where interracial relationships were illegal.
Despite this, the love between Richard and Mildred Loving flowered and they got married. This violated the state’s anti-miscegenation statute, the Racial Integrity Act of 1924 prohibiting the marriage between people classified as ‘white’ and people classified as ‘coloured’.
They were given a suspended sentence of one year in prison so they left their state. Frustrated by their inability to travel together to visit their families in Virginia, they eventually brought a class action suit in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia and on January 22, 1965 and in 1967 the ‘Loving v. Virginia case was finally settled with a landmark civil rights decision by the U.S. Supreme Court invalidationg laws prohibiting interracial marriage.
There is so much to learn from the Loving’s’ unconditional love story but this is about much more than a history lesson.
The nature of these two stories displays a romantic form of love, but I think it’s important to add that love comes in other forms of relationships whether it is a parental, sisterly, brotherly, and most commonly through friendship. Love gave the Lovings and Saint Valentine courage to do what they believed to be right, despite what society said. Most importantly these two stories show us that there is more to love than the statement “I love you.” But love is choosing the person regardless of your past, daily ups and downs, unforeseen circumstances-whatever else life has to throw at you. Love allows for you to be vulnerable, supportive and affectionate even when you don’t feel like it.
I’m sure that during their time together, Mildred and Richard must have given each other wonderful ‘gifts’ and as much as I ‘love’ chocolate, I don’t mean in a material sense- I mean nurturing gifts such as uplifting praises of which they mutually appreciated, respect, loyalty, actively choosing to love one another with an aim of actually staying together.
As you celebrate Valentine’s Day with the people you love. I would like to encourage you to try find ways of telling and showing your unconditional love in ways that are significant for both yourself and your loved ones, whoever they may be.
Tadiwa Wazara studied Fashion Management at Robert Gordon University, and is currently working on placement in London with corsetiere, Deborah Brand. Tadiwa hopes to use fashion as a tool of social change in her native country of Zimbabwe.
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There is also a 2011 documentary called The Loving V. Virginia Story