Black love persists
Host Myra Flynn talks with three couples about their love journeys and how through hopes and dreams, the winds of change, and a heartbreaking history … nevertheless, Black love persists.
This is the latest episode of Homegoings, a seasonal podcast that features fearless conversations about race. This is storytelling — with soul. Follow the series here.
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Here on Homegoings, we work to center the stories and humanity of brown and Black people. And what’s more humanizing than talking about love? And not just any love: Today's show is about Black love.
Because Black Americans have a history steeped in slavery, the sale of their family members, a historical lack of access to resources like land and insurance, and were at one point identified as three-fifths a human — Black love hasn’t had the luxury to have romance at the forefront. How could it, when what Black people know about loving each other — is that that love is met with consequence, failure, violence, and death?
And yet, against all odds — Black love persists.
As Henrie Paz-Amor, who has been with her wife for 21-years says:
“[There was] all of the trauma that we both brought to the relationship based on our own family's trauma and history and ancestry of trauma. And so we've both had to work through our own stuff together and apart. And I think for us, a really big piece of us being together is being able to grow in those ways.”
For this episode, we’ll chat with Jay and Queila Green, a couple whose love was born on a music video shoot. Marc and Annette Thomas, the parents of Jay and Queila. And Henrie and Windy Paz-amor, who chose their Black queer love during a time when Hernie says the word lesbian was only intended for white women.
This is Homegoings. Welcome home.
If you’ve been following along with season one of Homegoings, you know that each of our episodes ends with a deep listen to something powerful and profound. And today, we’re adding sexy to the list. This is "Black Beauty," written and sung by Jay Green.
How long does it take
For you to look so good
I can’t wait to see you again
Cause when I see you, darling
My heart starts racing
Is it your coco brown skin
Or maybe the brain you use
Girl your a perfect "10"
You never loose
And I adore you
You're my favorite kind
Your beauty got me staring at the wall
Afraid that I will never find
The time to see it all
Your Black beauty
Girl, you're so amazing, so captivating
Your Black Beauty
Your hair looks good babe
Your skins so smooth
Smell like that Shea Butter
What do you use?
Oh, your the one I choose
Cause I always knew
Your Black beauty
First thing in the morning
You're the one I need
My coco latte
Nubian black tea
Baby, you're my queen
You're the one I fiend for yeah
You're my favorite kind
Your beauty got me staring at the wall
Afraid that I will never find
The time to see it all
Your Black beauty
Girl, you're so amazing, so captivating
Your Black Beauty
Oh baby, girl, yes you are
my sweet honey, you're my superstar
Oh baby, oh, yes it’s true
You're my everything, my guiding light
I'm loving you
Note: Our show is made for the ear. We highly recommend pressing play on the audio posted here. For accessibility, we also provide a transcript of the episode. Transcripts are generated using a combination of robots and human transcribers. They may contain errors, so please check the corresponding audio before quoting in print.
That R&B love
Jay Green: So we need from the store because I know we need some stuff.
Queila Green: Yeah, vegetables and some fruit. Yes.
Jay: Do we need to make lists for vegetables for what else?
Queila: It’s in my head
Jay: But will you remember?
Jay: I’ll make a list
Myra Flynn: You’re listening to the sounds of love. In particular, the average, sometimes mundane, everyday grocery list kind of love — that has been built and nurtured by two of my favorite people.
Jay: My name is Jay Green. And I'm married to this wonderful woman to my right, her name is Queila Green. And we've been married for 19 years and a lot of months. It's about to be our 20th anniversary next April. I'm excited about that. We're still happily married. It still feels like our honeymoon. To me. I don't know about you babe?
Queila: At times.
Myra: Jay and Queila live in Los Angeles, about an hour from my California home. And you may recognize Jay’s name from our credits, where I thank him frequently. When I started this show I envisioned scoring each episode with as much original Black music as possible, and thanks to Jay, we have met that goal in each episode thus far. Lucky us.
Jay: I think what you're doing is amazing. Some message that needs to be heard. And if I could, you know, be a part of that through music. I'm all for it.
Myra: There’s this meme floating around that says: “If it doesn’t feel like that 90’s R&B kind of love, I don’t want it.” I’ve seen it on T-shirts. I’ve seen it on bags. And there’s good news for whoever said this originally; in some cases, as it is with Jay and Queila, that expectation has been met and surpassed. Jay’s actually a little famous for those 90’s R&B slow jams we all love so much.
Myra (on tape): I want to take it all the way back to the r&b group Ideal, and how you all met.
Jay: Okay, this is Jay, aka Jay Dante, 1/4 of the super group Ideal from Houston, Texas. We started singing together in high school, doing local talent shows, singing in church. And from there, we began to get a little more exposure. Fast forward, we got a record deal with Virgin Records. So that kept us out touring and putting us on the public eye. And from then it was no looking back.
I actually met my wife on the set. After we completed shooting the whatever video and set was down in Miami, she was on spring break. And I looked over and what did I say to you?
Queila: Hey, you.
Jay: Hey, you, from across Ocean Drive. 7:47 right there in Miami or ocean drive. I saw a beautiful young lady. She had a glow around it too. And she turned around.
Queila: And I said, “are you talking to me?” And he said “yes, you.” So I went over there and talked to him. And he said he would be around recording his video and would we be around later? And I'm like, “yeah, we'll be around.”
So he called me. I didn't think he was going to I'm like, what is the R&B singer want with me? I just thought it was all like me like that. You know, not true, but ended up being true. And we all went out that night. And when he called me he totally butchered my name. He said: “Can I speak to cool – cool, cool hola?”
Jay: I wish you could spell her name across the screen. Q-u-e-i-l-a. What does that say? (laugh)
Queila: And he takes me on his moped because that's all he had driving around Ocean Drive. And so we all went out that night, we all went to dinner, we went to a club called the g spot. I was underage, but I got to get in because I was with Jay. And he was in the famous group Ideal so it didn't matter. We ended up hanging out in the VIP feather room. It was a load of fun. And then we ended the night just us talking on the beach and talked until the sun came up and he had to leave. And when he left I was like, well that was fun. Not quite sure if I'll hear from him again. He gave me his number I gave him my number. But he called me while I was still in Miami a couple days later and here we are. It's been full throttle ever since.
Myra: Would you say that you guys have an R&B Love?
Queila: Definitely. Oh, yeah. For sure. It was born out of R&B, born at an R&B video shoot.
Jay: It was birthed out of R&B. That's amazing.
Queila: It’s possible. It's possible to be young, it's possible to be Black, successful, in love with two people of the same race. And we're just making things work and making things happen
Myra: From Vermont Public, this is Homegoings, I’m Myra Flynn. Here on the show, we invite and straight up encourage candid, vulnerable and unapologetic conversations about race. And we work to center the stories and humanity of Brown and Black people. And what more humanizing than talking about love? And not just any love: Today we’re talking Black love. And how through hopes and dreams:
Marc Green: I always wanted to my mate soulmate to be of African American descent. That’s what I was looking for.
Myra: The winds of change:
Windy Paz-Amor: People change. And with those changes, you have to have your love kind of aligned with it to some degree.
Myra: And heartbreak:
Annette Thomas: You've always been my rock. You've never left my side no matter what. Good days bad days. Ups down. It's like you're just present no matter what. And that means a lot to me. Because, like, you know, my father, I felt like he abandoned me.
Myra: Nevertheless : Black love persists.
Jay: It flows, it’s smooth. You know what I'm saying? It's in the pocket. It can make you want to sing it can make you want to laugh it can make you want to cry. You know it's a it's a it's a journey. It's a ride. It's a it's a nice ride.
Myra: This is Homegoings. Welcome home.
That family love
Myra: OK, so when I was growing up, love stories sounded like this:
There was usually some sort of a gown, a ball, maybe a lady who had an evil mom or kept eating the wrong apple or falling asleep and needing to be saved by, like a kiss, or a dance, or a battle or a prince. And though the setting changed or the romance novel cover rotated — one thing was always pretty painfully consistent:
Not one of the women at the center of these stories— looked like me. And the emotions that brought up for me actually had little to do with beauty — though as we covered a couple episodes back with our episode on Black beauty standards — there’s lots to unpack there. It had more to do with this feeling of separation, between me and them. Like there were the kissed and the kissed-nots. The saved and the saved-nots. And for me, as a default honorary member of the saved-nots, these stories signaled to me that if someone like me wasn’t worthy of being saved or kissed — someone like me wasn’t worthy of being loved.
And in these stories, it wasn’t just the female character who didn’t look like me. The lead dude who does the saving wasn’t brown or Black either. So it always made me wonder, in real life, when I saw Black couples holding hands, walking the streets together, madly in love —how did they find each other? And what made them choose each other?
This is Jay and Queila Green again:
Queila: So I had a boyfriend when I was 13 that was white. But I don't know if I consider that dating outside of my race. Because I was so young. It was just hanging out at school.
Jay: I had a white girlfriend in first grade. She was cool. We got along real well.
Queila: First grade really?
Jay: First grade Her name was Narra, what's up Narra — shout out to you and your family.
Myra: what does Black love mean to both of you?
Jay: Our Black love is a - okay. So there's a lot going on with this Black love and is a beautiful thing. Oh, and that's probably ancestral, you know, what I'm saying? To me, it means Caring, sharing, listening –
Queila: Treating each other with respect, and working together, working together prioritizing each other spending the quality time together, but also sharing that love with your family as well.
Marc Thomas: So you have with a topic we supposed to talk about. You got to ask questions…
Myra: I’m gonna ask you questions
Myra: Speaking of family …
Annette Thomas: Oh God, don’t make us go home not gettin’ along.
Myra: This is Marc and Annette Thomas, the parents of Jay and Queila Green. They live in the Bay Area of California. Marc is Queila’s dad, and Annette is her stepmom
Annette: I just tried to be the best support I could and I treat her always as if she was mine. Right?
Myra: Mark and Annette have been together a long time. Though there’s a little debate when it comes to exactly how long …
Marc: 33 years. 34 will be 34 will be 30. Okay. 34 years.
Annette: Married 34 years, been together. 41. But I count it all as married. Because I was a kid. And we’ve been together all these years.
Myra: I’ll be frank, for this episode I was really interested in simply talking to some couples. I’m just curious in general about what works for folks, what doesn’t work. I want the gossip, the drama, the tea. My guilty pleasures ARE mindless reality TV shows about love. I said what I said.
So talking with this entire family feels like a really great get when it comes to diving into all of that. And with this couple, Annette and Marc, 41 years together? That’s gotta be a lot of tea.
Marc: We went out on a double date.
Annette: Don’t tell it all
Marc: I'm telling everything. We went out on a double date. She was with one person I was with the other person. But I always liked her. When I saw one day coming out of a friend's house, that we mutually were friends. I told him that I was gonna marry this lady someday.
And when I had the opportunity, we started flirting with each other while we were with the other people and then just started going out after that.
Myra: Wait, so are you describing an affair?
Marc: No, I was already I was…
Marc and Annette together: You were …coming out of a relationship.
Myra: Mark and Annette’s Black love story is an intentional one. They were looking for each other.
Marc: My first wife was caucasian, is caucasian. And always, after we divorced, and got, you know, separate ways, always wanted to my mate soulmate to be of African American descent. And that's what I was looking for.
Myra: If you’re listening, and wondering if this is an episode promoting dating within your race, you might be right. And you might be wrong. Here’s what I’ve learned.
Black love is about so much more than just love. It’s about equity. Survival. Humanity. And honestly? Radical activism.
See Black love, hasn’t really had the luxury to have romance at the forefront. How could it?
How do you family, the way we now know a healthy family to be, in a country where at one time, common practice was to see your children being bought and sold before your very eyes?
How do you get your groove back, with a history steeped in rape. Especially rape, that wasn’t even allowed to be called rape. In fact, if you were raped — by a white master or lady of the house — your spouse was likely lynched for the sin YOU caused.
If marriage is a marriage of resources, what’s the point if you don’t have any. Or when you did, at least when you could in the 1800’s, your quote “40-acres and a mule” (the mule I’ve learned came later — if at all) was considered a poor financial risk, refused loans or insurance and redlined as recently as the 1900’s.
What is your legacy? I mean, can you imagine the foundation of confidence our culture would have if Black Americans had a starting a chance at being economically self-sufficient? What that would have meant for our generational wealth?
How do you keep the passion alive through the three-fifths clause, when in the late 1700’s, Article one, section two of the Constitution declared that any person who was not free would be counted as three-fifths of a free individual. Three-fifths a human.
How do you love any human well, when historically, you’ve been told you aren’t a human yourself.
I just think it’s kind of a miracle that we get out of bed in the morning. As Black people, what we know about loving each other — is that that love is met with consequence, failure, violence, and death.
I mean it would only benefit our societal circumstances for us to unify or love with those outside of our race And still, somehow, someway: Black people keep on choosing each other. If that choice is not an act of radical activism — I don’t know what is.
Annette: You could just be yourself. We understand the language. We don't take it personal, you know, because we have a little lingo, you can talk how you talk at home. And then when you go into society, you almost have to conform to what they want you to be. But at home, we have, we have, we've always had structure, because we have structure, but we could just be ourselves and always brought the kids up. Don't ever let anybody change who you are. Because this is, this is your foundation. And this is, these are the things my mom taught me and his mom taught him and the foods that we eat, how we understand each other, just as a culture, period. It's just, I It's hard to explain. It's just is, it just is.
Myra: Black couples, on top of recovering from our history, are navigating hard life stuff — same as everyone else. Take Annette and Marc, who on top of all the rest had to navigate cancer. But guess what? The upside to a history steeped in pain? If you are strong as hell. If you want to know how to overcome, thrive, and surpass your pain — yeah. Black people in America? We wrote that book.
Marc: I think adversity really tells you what your what your mate is all about. You know, cuz he didn't leave me cuz that's when you realize I think adversity really tells you what your what your mate is all about.
Annette: He didn't leave me
Myra: Is that the standard? He didn’t leave you?
Annette: What I was a person will leave people, leave people who are going through what I went through. That's probably the hardest thing that we've ever been through. Right?
Marc: Yeah yeah.
Annette: I love you because you're my rock. You've always been you've never left my side no matter what. Good days, bad days. Ups down. It's like you're just present, no matter what. And that's. That means a lot to me. Because, like, you know, my father, I felt like he abandoned me. So I've always wanted to my in my life that would just be there for me and my needs no matter what And I love you.
Marc: I love you because you're like my foundation who keep me balanced. You bring me back to the middle even when I want to go crazy and do all this dumb stuff. Even when I do dumb stuff, you know, it takes a while to get back. But we always find our way back to each other. So that tells me you, you know, you've forgiven me for a lot. So if you want to know why love you, that's why it's because of the loyalty you present in the foundation you give me that's why I always believe I can.
Annette: Is that why you always say that to me?
Myra: What does he say?
Annette: I always believe I can. He says it to me all the time. And that's black love. Right?
That healing love
Windy Paz-Amor: I have a serious crush on my wife. It's that that's real. Yes.
Myra: This is Windy and Henrie Paz-Amor at their home in New Jersey. They’ve been together for 21 years.
Windy: Okay, so this, this is a story that we have some disagreements on however, mostly it is we're on the same page. But we were both and I'm gonna say this right … we were both messing with someone not messing with them.
Henrietta Paz-Amor: I was seeing someone.
Windy: She was was seeing a lot of people okay.
Henrie: I was identifying as polyamorous at the time.
Windy: I was not.
Myra: Windy and Henrie’s academic and work journeys have toggled them between New York City and Vermont for years, but their paths never crossed. Until ironically, Windy’s partner at the time suggested she make a new friend.
Windy: That one person just kept saying, “hey, do you know this woman named Henrietta?” And I was like, No … I don't know her. And she's like: “You remind me so much of her. Y'all have to meet.” And now I think a normal person would have been like, Why is this person I'm seeing telling me I have to meet another person. But in my mind, again, I just came back from Vermont. I was like, oh, new friends. That's what's gonna happen right now.
Henrie: And this person was telling me all about Windy but didn't say her name. And then was like: “You remind me so much of someone I know. You guys have to meet I think you guys would connect immediately.”
Windy: So I got a call. And she's like, Have you had dinner yet? And I'm like, No, she's okay. Let's go have dinner. And then all of a sudden kind of changed the whole thing and was like, actually, let's go stop at the LGBT Center in New York. Yeah, once we get there, she's like: “Henrietta is running a meeting, a polyamorous meeting.” And I was like, Ah, this is setup, okay.
I'm standing in the lobby, and she came down and this goddess walks through a door. And literally that meeting ended, and the person I was seeing, I just couldn't stop cheesing. You know, I was smiling from ear to ear and she looks at me and she says, you know “Why are you smiling at like that?” And I said, “Oh, I'm sorry, I just met my wife.”
Myra: Windy and Henrie identify as queer. Specifically, aggressive femme and soft butch. So their Black love, and their queer love have intersected over the years, in a world that historically has marginalized both identities.
Henrie: I grew up feeling like and learning that lesbians were white women. You know, and that women that loved women were white. That was not something that happened in the community. And so coming out in my 20’s, in New York, in Brookly, it was like a different world. And there were just so many things that felt in sync when I met Win. I felt like, wow, we have so many things in common and so many things that are different in terms of our perspectives. And we had many, many shared values, many cultural exchanges that were similar. Our families were not from this country, you know, and they both spoke Spanish and English. And we were both from Brooklyn, and went to schools and public schools and not public schools. And it was just amazing to be in this relationship with someone that felt so much like me, but was so different.
Are you hearing this love, just pour through your speakers right now? Herni and Windy are couples goals. But if you’re thinking everyday for them has been a romance novel — well, fine, yeah it has. My point is, there’s still a lot of hard work behind their love.
Henrie: All of the trauma that we both brought to the relationship based on our own family's trauma and history and ancestry of trauma, right? And so we've both had to work through our own stuff together and apart. And I think for us, a really big piece of us being together is being able to grow in those ways.
Knowing that, hey, that's your stuff. And this is my stuff, let's let's work on that. So that we can then work on our stuff. Right, because there's some lines there, right, I don't have to hold every piece of you. And you don't have to hold every piece of me, we have to just take responsibility for ourselves, right there, because I can't handle all your trauma, and you can't handle all of mine. Right? And I know that the world is gonna get on us too. So then there's that. So where do we? And how do we, you know, take the time to say, hey, what's yours and what's mine, so that we both take responsibility for keeping one another healthy. Right. And so I think that that is compounded when you're in a lesbian relationship with another Black woman,
Myra: If I may, a little moment of identity vulnerability of my own. Honestly, all love is good love, but sometimes, I’m envious of Black femme queer and lesbian love. Mainly it’s a selfish envy because I am a Black female. I’ve always wondered what it’s like to love someone who feels so familiar. Like there must be something so healing about loving someone so much like yourself, that in turn you may learn to love and heal yourself. Like self- love by proximity. It’s a little heady, I know. But Windy and Henri get it! I ran this thought by them to ask if I sounded like a hetero normative fool. Their response: “You know, Myra, we make a lot of people want to be gay.”
Henrie: And for me, a woman of color Black woman, it was just, it was amazing, to connect on that level. And, like the Making love piece is breathtaking. When you're with someone that you really connect in that way, and for me, it was women, you know, connecting with women just, I can't even articulate it, it just is so amazing. And so deep, it touches me very deeply. It's a soul kind of touch. It's not just physical.
Windy: It's,compounded it's another it's another layer, it's another experience where, you know, you're both so vulnerable in regards to how the world looks at you. And yet, you both know how incredibly sacred and strong you are, in regards of how we know and look at each other. That's, that's been the most affirming I think, like, I, when I think of healing in my skin in my body, like, in my thoughts, I think of, I think of our love. I think for both of us also, you know, violence was our first language. That's real, you know, and, and if you speak to many women of color, that's, that's not a singular story. It's not uncommon, right. And so there's deep healing in that.
There's this quote that says, two women together are a sign of the earth healing herself. And I think about that all the time. Every time Henrietta and I are with each other. And then you add on that making love to a woman and a woman of color. And the healing that happens within that our bodies being our own. I mean, just even that concept itself, right, because women of color are preyed upon right? We’re preyed upon by those who look like us and those who don't look like us. Right? And so where do we find that peace and that safety. And for me, I have found it in this love.
Myra: If you can imagine, these two have even more in common than what we’ve heard from them so far. Both Windy and Henri identify as African Caribbean, and Black Latino. Windy’s family roots are in the Dominican Republic, and Henri’s are from Belize, in Central America. So they get to speak one of the most romantic languages together
This episode was mixed, scored and reported by Myra Flynn. She also composed the theme music, and the music under our deep listen. Other music by Blue Dot Sessions and Jay Green. Mark Davis edited this episode. James Stewart contributes to so many things on the backend of making this show.
Special thanks to Brent Dixon and Tim Sonnefeld. Also thanks to Elodie Reed, who is the graphic artist behind all of our Homegoings artist portraits.
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