As you’re spreading love this Valentine’s Day, don’t forget about the one who has had your back since day uno, the one who nurtures and supports you — always: your ‘hood.
From street vendors who feed you and graffiti artists who brighten your view to señoras who gift you with lifelong lessons and sidewalk dominoes players who bring real harmony to the block, the barrio, and all the personalities that construct it, helped you become the mujer you are today. So before your romantic date (or Galentine turn-up), return the amor to your comunidad.
Here are some ways to show your ‘hood love this Valentine’s Day.
1. Send love notes to women of color on your block.
(Credit: Instagram / @theunapologeticallybrownseries)
Ditch the “Be Mine” V-day cards for messages that’ll empower Black and brown women in your community. The Unapologetically Brown Series offers downloadable prints of posters that will big up your sisters. Spend a couple hours putting up floral signs that read “brown girl, this world is yours,” and bring joy, visibility and inspiration to your gente.
2. Write a letter to someone detained in an immigration detention center, jail, prison or juvenile detention facility.
(Credit: Instagram / @stationary4less)
Locked away for weeks, months or years, community members you grew up with who got caught up in the web of our country’s criminal injustice system may feel forgotten. Show them that they’re not. Send your former neighbor, classmate or sidewalk vendor a letter detailing a memory you savor with them, a note of inspiration or simply a reminder of your support to them and/or their family on the outside.
3. Send gifts to domestic violence survivors.
(Credit: Instagram / @godutch.ie)
Holidays can be some of the most lonely and painful moments for survivors. If you have the cash, pick up pink and red Valentine’s Day bouquets and deliver them to women staying at local homeless shelters and/or domestic violence safe houses. But don’t forget the sweets, because the kiddies will appreciate some V-Day love, too.
4. Donate to your local food bank.
(Credit: Instagram / @omi.jane)
Help your low-income neighbor cook the Valentine’s Day dinner of their sweetheart’s dreams by donating some yummy non-perishable goods to nearby food pantries and banks.
5. Host a lovey-dovey event for the members of your community who are too often forgotten.
(Credit: Instagram / @bakingforgood)
If you have the bank and the time, team up with local organizations and co-host a love-filled dinner or dance for those who are often forgotten on the holiday: single parents, those with an intellectual disability, the homeless and/or undocumented immigrants.
6. Send a Valentine to your member of Congress asking for their support of LGBTQ equality.
(Credit: Instagram / @factory45co)
Whether a V-Day card or call, send a message to your elected officials demanding that they advance LGBTQ equality and that human rights for trans and queer people, including youth, are fully protected.
7. Celebrate Valentine’s Day at a local people of color-owned joint.
(Credit: Instagram / @elleherrera)
If you’re too slammed at work or just short of coins for any of the above, make your V-Day date a moment to give back to your baby boo and your community. Get bae a gift from a black-or-brown-owned shop and/or take them to dinner at a delicious immigrant-owned restaurant. Look good, do good and eat good — what more could you want from Valentine’s Day?