Meet the Ma’ats: Advocating for Black love

Ayize Ma’at (left) and Aiyana Ma’at celebrate and encourage Black love on a daily basis. (Photo courtesy of BLAM)

by Reginald Williams
Special to the AFRO

A civil war is playing out on social media platforms on a daily basis, undoubtedly spilling into real, everyday life. The bitter combatants are Black men and Black women. With Black men persistently asking what Black women bring to the table, and Black women either believing Black men are no good or are unneeded– the disparaging attacks on Black love are proving detrimental to Black relationships and marriage. Many believe the distasteful disharmony is also harming Black families.

Overwhelming data may suggest there may be some significant discontent in Black love.

The prevalence of children born to single-family homes, approximately four million according to research, and the paltry percentage of African Americans getting married demonstrate the depth of relationship issues often argued. The U.S. Census Bureau reports that 31.2 percent of Black people were married compared to approximately 54 percent of Whites. Black women represent the least married population at 28.6 percent. Black men married at 34.4 percent. According to the Journal of Blacks in Higher Education, approximately 48 percent of Black women and 51 percent of Black men never married.

With this data in mind, husband-and-wife duo Ayize and Aiyana Ma’at, created BLAM, or Black Love and Marriage.

BLAM is an organization working to offset the negative narratives surrounding Black love. The relationship transformation community focuses on personal and relationship growth and healing. The couple’s ministry began in 2011 on their YouTube platform, “Ask the Ma’ats,” allowing followers to write and ask relationship questions.

“Even though we didn’t call it BLAM when we began this work, the idea, concept [and] heartbeat of it was birthed about 13 years ago when we started doing work inside the community. Ayize Ma’at says the goal was “to help people improve the quality of their lives, mainly focusing on the quality of their relationships.”

Married for 21 years, through BLAM, the trained therapists have built a nationwide community dedicated to collaboratively growing Black love. California, Colorado, Texas, and North and South Carolina represent a few of the BLAM communities with robust members, working collaboratively to show that Black love exists.

Members remain active even when their relationship fails to end with happily-ever-after narratives.

Amid his divorce, Spencer Washington continues to participate in BLAM activities. He attends the meetups in the District of Columbia and also takes advantage of a variety of online activities offered by the group. Relationship Thursday, Expert Office Hours and The Love Experience: A Virtual Journey to Elevate Your Intimacy represent some of the online events available. The Men’s Lounge and Sister Circle are bi-monthly group sessions that play out like collaborative therapy sessions. They also host an annual marriage conference held at the National Harbor in Oxon Hill, Md.

“BLAM was something I really wanted to be a part of,” explained Washington. “After my wife filed for divorce, I was really at a loss. I didn’t know where to turn. I told myself–wait a minute–I have my BLAM brothers and my BLAM family (BLAMily) to turn to.”

“During the Men’s Lounge, I found that there were brothers that I shared with, and they shared with me,” he continued. “We had a lot of similarities. I felt like BLAM and the Men’s Lounge were right for me. I felt like God had led me to the place I needed to be.”

Washington added that he continues participating in the BLAMily activities to prepare for his next partner.

The soul of BLAM’s delivery is providing a safe space for its members to be vulnerable. The provision of its compassionate, listening ear coupled with the mission of holding members accountable. Its tagline is “Relationship work is personal work.”

“In our work, we were really hitting in on people’s pain points. We got really clear about the pain people were experiencing around their relationships,” explained Aiyana Ma’at. “The nature of the work we do is connecting. We’re asking people to share things that are vulnerable—they’re exposing themselves. We put a lot of energy into creating a safe space. There is no judgment. Love and safety are the number one virtue in our space.”

One of the ways that BLAM has become so respected is by providing relationship education using entertaining online tools. JR and Reina McKinney joined BLAM after participating in BLAM’s Communication Challenge. Two years after their nuptials, the McKinneys found themselves in space where their differences were magnified and almost unbearable. Reina McKinney saw a Facebook advertisement for the challenge and signed the couple up. By the fourth night, both knew BLAM was where they needed to be.

“This is the third and final marriage for both of us,” explained Reina McKinney, BLAMbassadors in the Carolinas. “We entered our covenant in 2018 with a no-out clause. If we were going to make it, we either needed coaching or counseling otherwise we would be stuck and miserable forever, which neither of us wanted.”

Through BLAM, the McKinneys say they are collaborating with a community of support and accountability partners with similar goals. They have gained valuable tools for communication, connection, and personal work.

The community is what makes BLAM more than just content curators.

“We’ve created solutions to people’s problems,” shared Ayize Ma’at. “We were consistent in our delivery of those solutions. When I say we created solutions, I mean we created solutions around communication, conflict management, sex and intimacy. We created those solutions while remaining consistent in delivering them.”

“This community gives you the vocabulary to engage in reaching the next level,” explained Graham Dixon, a member from the D.C., Maryland and Virginia area that has been married for nine years. “A lot of times, I find myself in situations where I don’t know how to say what I’m saying. In listening to some of the classes, sitting back thinking and reflecting [on what] Ayize said provides a deeper insight.”

The Ma’ats have come full circle. The native Washingtonians met almost 30 years ago at Tots and Teen, a D.C.-based family organization whose mission was to improve the quality of the Black family. Now based in Los Angeles, Calif., they have built a platform impacting Black families.

The Ma’ats are parents to five children. Their eldest, Asante Duah Ma’at, is the primetime Emmy Award nominee known as “Asante Blackk.” He starred as Kevin Richardson in the Ava Duvernay film “When They See Us.” While their son’s star is on the rise, the couple has been featured in “You Saved Me,” a documentary showcasing Black Love.

Reginald Williams, the author of “A Marginalized Voice: Devalued, Dismissed, Disenfranchised and Demonized,” writes on Black men and Holistic Health concerns. Please email or visit for more information.

Meet the Ma’ats: Advocating for Black love

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