Cover Image: Black Love Letters

Black Love Letters

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Member Reviews

This collection of love letters encompasses platonic and intimate friendships, familial love and yes, romantic love. Published as part of John Legend’s imprint, it’s a treasure to read and hear the music of beloveds on the page.

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"White people have the luxury of experiencing love as a journey only burdened with the defaults of humanity. However, we experience love as an escape. It is a fort we build to shield the people we love from oppression and where we take ourselves to be repaired. The people we love are our safe zones. They allow us to direct our attention away from the veil and into the worlds we build together. When two or three of us gather to love or be loved, it is already implied that each of us had to work through a thing even to offer such an extension of ourselves, which makes our love stronger. (Lynae Vanee Bogues, On Black Love…)"

Ah, such a delight! This is a book about Black Love: community, family present, absent or on the way, couples, friends, self, peers and mentors, and even jazz, hair, the Church, fishing, and travel—a collection of letters from Black people to Black people and Black experiences. There’s so much life and grace and connection in these pages, so much pain and joy and grief and celebration—in Care, Awe, Loss, Ambivalence, and Transformation, the five sections of the book. And it’s beautiful.

The book opens with a lovely (as one would expect) letter from John Legend to his wife, Chrissy. Namesake, by Natalie Johnson, a letter to her late aunt, took my breath away, as did My Black Body by Malachi Elijah and So I Can Face the Fear Of Living by Sojourner Brown, both poems about living in Black bodies. But nothing in this book is filler; every “love letter” will speak to you. I was also very touched by the letters that honour the lineage of Black activism, including Rev. Al Sharpton’s letter to his grandchild, and Ben Crump’s to Justice Thurgood Marshall.

This love letter to Blackness is a welcome and complex record of the Black experience (in the US), and will make you feel so much. Highly recommended.

Thank you to Zando Projects/Get Lifted Books and to NetGalley for access.

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"When you consider the history of our people, the strife and adversity we’ve experienced and overcome, love seems an almost illogically ambitious act of resistance. We take pain and hardship and convert it into something that sustains us."

A collection about Black love in all its beauty and glory, how could I resist? Needless to say, I jumped into this collection expecting to be enthralled in the beauty, essence, and complication of Black love in all its forms, and this book did not disappoint.

From the very beginning, with an introduction written by John Legend, this book moved me.

The letter he wrote to his wife was touching and while the letter was for her it resonated so deeply because he proclaimed something that truly stuck with me, essentially that love is the core of everything he does. I thought this was a beautiful sentiment. To live and be guided by love in all that we do.

I devoured this book, each letter added a different layer of beauty and a different layer of how we love as Black people. How we love through pain, through difficult times, and through adversity.

All the letters are different, some are to lovers, brothers, sisters, grandparents, fathers, mothers and the list goes on.

There are so many letters I loved some that stuck out are:

Joy Reid to Her Hair
Michael Eric Dyson to the Black Church
Tarana Burke to Grandma
Reverend Al Sharpton to His Grandson
Jayne Allen to Blackness
Alex Elle to Self

Here are a few lines that I loved from the collection:

- "It is my belief that the most political thing you can do is love another Black person. It’s an act of resistance. It is revolutionary."

- The proverb is, Every time an elder dies, a library burns to the ground. If that’s true, then when a Black grandma dies, it’s like losing ancient scrolls.

- "I understand now that love is imperfect, but it is always within reach."

- " Assassination was an occupational hazard for folks on the frontlines of the struggle"

- " I love you for loving me at times when I found it difficult to even love myself."

Such a beautiful collection prepared to be moved.

Thank you Zando Projects, Get Lifted Books, and Netgalley for providing me with an ARC for my honest review.

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This anthology, thoughtfully curated by Cole Brown and Natalie Johnson, brings together celebrated Black writers, creators, and thinkers, each contributing heartfelt letters and original illustrations that center on the subject of Black love. From John Legend's eloquent foreword to the poignant contributions of luminaries like Brontez Purnell, Morgan Jerkins, Reverend Al Sharpton, and Dr. Imani Perry, "Black Love Letters" is a compelling mosaic of voices that celebrates the beauty, strength, and deep humanity of Black people.

In a world marred by war, suffering, and social injustice, loving and allowing oneself to be loved is a political act. The act of loving another Black person is a revolutionary one, as it defies the historical adversity and systemic oppression that Black folx and Black communities have endured. "Black Love Letters" beautifully captures this truth and serves as a testament to the expansive capacity of Black people to love, heal, and thrive despite the trauma and suffering we have faced throughout history.

The collection echoes the sentiments of Lynae Vanee, who eloquently encapsulates the essence of Black love as a force that transcends time and space. Vance writes that Black Love is found in the praying hands of grandmothers, the shared moments of joy on hot summer days, the support of siblings, and the resilience of a community that has had to navigate a world that often seeks to diminish their worth. This anthology reveals that Black love is not just about romantic relationships; it is a love that extends to self and to the collective.

In times of turmoil, books like "Black Love Letters" are indispensable. They remind us that even in the face of adversity, love and connection can be our guiding lights. Through its letters and illustrations, this anthology offers a soothing balm for those seeking solace, a source of inspiration for those yearning for a sense of belonging, and a call to action for those who wish to stand in solidarity with communities enduring hardship.

Thank you to the editors, contributors, and publisher for the e-arc copy!

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Black Love Letters is a such a meaningful collection for living life. The letters uplift through their profound expressions of love, celebration, and community. This brings needed warmth and optimism to readers. The deep affection and care expressed will inspire more acts of love and kindness from readers. The reflections on family, friends, neighborhoods keep us grounded in meaningful relationships and values. The diverse stories affirm our shared humanity across all backgrounds.

Through its vivid expression of Black joy, love, community and history, Black Love Letters elevates the human spirit. The stories shared within its pages have the power to heal, inspire and transform lives for the better. This makes the collection a valuable resource for fostering wellbeing and living meaningfully. By highlighting the richness of Black life, it encourages us all to nurture happiness and share it generously with others.

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Impactful, thoughtful and highly moving.

I loved most of this book's characteristics but the only thing was that some of my favorite entries weren't lengthy like others.

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