Binwe Adebayo on writing about Black Love

Binwe Adebayo, writer, founder and managing director of baby mogul has contributed to a new collection of essays. Notes on Love is a collection of essays on essays on life, love, and loss put together by jeweller Fenton & Co. We spoke to Adebayo about her involvement in the project and why she decided to write about black love. 

My agency was approached by Fenton and Co. They wanted one of our talents, Upila Chisala to contribute a poem to their project. Laura Lambert, the founder of Fenton & Co and I just happened to get on really well in the process of this back-and-forth. She read some of my work and asked if I too would contribute a piece. 

The brief evolved out of various conversations Laura and I had about the perception of love and who gets included when we talk about love. The fact that a lot of wedding adverts are massively white and straight and don’t reflect the true diversity of people who are in love and want to get married. From Laura’s perspective as a jeweller with amazing pieces premised on diverse conceptions of love, it was about how do we start to have those conversations. Love was the overarching umbrella and below that we had different themes: celebration, loss, identity, sexual identity, gender identity. It was all these tendrils of how you can think of love and where love intersects with everyday life. 

In my academic work, I’m really interested in blackness and the way in which blackness signifies itself in different contexts. For me this concept of Black love gets bandied around a lot. I wanted to unpack what that stands for and how we think that through. My entry point was pop culture. I started to think about how different iterations of pop culture were showing us different depictions of black love from Will Smith in the Fresh Prince to 90s R&B and HipHop music videos. It was about me thinking through how I had come to understand love through pop culture and music which I had grown up listening to. It was deeply personal and introspective writing. 

To be included in this collection is an incredible honour and it’s a moment of esteem for me. I’m in company with writers that I really respect, whose work I love, whose work I cut my teeth reading and learning from. 

The introduction is written by Alexander Shulman, the former editor of British Vogue.  Other contributors to the collection include Alain de Botton, Lang Leav, Pandora Sykes, Payzee Mahmod and Upile Chisala among others. 100% of the profits of this project will be donated to charity. 

I think the decision that Laura took to donate funds to charity and to good causes was absolutely in line with the ethos of the project. During the early stages of our lockdown, there was the resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement and what brands can do to get it right. I think Fenton & Co. responded to that correctly. We were all contacted to weigh in on the different organisations in what I felt was a transparent, collaborative way to work. 

I’m a Libra and I’m a massively romantic person. I don’t mean in the romantic romantic way. Romance happens in platonic relationships. I think romance and love happens with your work. Love has so many tendrils. We are in a space where there is a lot of negative stuff to talk about and I’m not being dismissive when I’m saying that. But I think it’s important to talk about the places where we are getting it right and where love facilitates places for connection and new understanding. 

For me writing about Black love was really important. It’s so black people are part of the conversation around softness and intimacy and pleasure. We are not reduced to struggling, suffering people. It becomes a good vessel for seeing oneself and others more clearly. For me it’s the work of representation to show the infinite possibility and potential of love – particularly for black love. How love for yourself and others has held our community in many ways. This is despite a brutal and bloody history on this planet. 

The book is available to purchase here

This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity. 

Featured image via Twitter