In Love in War: A Journey of Black Womanhood by K. Grace is a collection of poetry about being a woman and black in America. Grace presents a struggle in her writing. It is a struggle that sees oppression on all sides. There is the struggle in black America to free itself from its past, and, at the same time, to break the cycle of poverty, stereotypes, and the selfishness of people. She proclaims that even if an African-American does everything right, they are still at a disadvantage because of skin color, and that is one thing no one can change:
By remaining silent I succumb to my ancestor’s chains
By using textbooks as shelf ornaments and doorstops,
I push my unborn babies onto slave ships...
By slipping into the safety of convention
I become part of this nation
That was based on
My destruction and dehumanization
Another battle being waged with acceptance is with women. Openly welcomed into women's rights demonstrations, the author discovers that most of the welcoming company would not join her in a Black Lives Matter demonstration. Men also present a challenge in other ways. The cry for power often lacks responsibility. There is a perpetuation of victim status instead of becoming masters of one's destiny.
I’m tired of revolutioniggaz
these brothas raising their fists to fight
using those same fists to beat their wives
There is a battle of color too; it is something Grace wishes never existed. Although she can ignore and forget what the world teaches, many cannot. Her use of Whyte throughout the poem is unusual in that is separate from "White Boys" and other general references to "white" people. Whyte is the society in which we live. It is the indoctrination of "whiteness" and then demanding that people act, dress, and perform in certain ways. Not only does the spelling difference separate the individuals from the system, but it can also relate to the Y chromosome. It is the white male, by a vast majority, that makes our laws, sends tax dollars to particular districts, and determines reproductive rights.
Feeding the lie by letting it pull our puppet strings
Acting like chocolate-coated Europeans
Tellin people how to live
When our shit isn’t together
In Love In War is a powerful collection of poetry with a strong message that will apply to all readers. Her root message is love, and that love is at all levels from society down to individual needs. Grace is clear and eloquent in her writing and even as a middle-aged, white, male I can see and agree with her arguments. There is a cry for all sides to recognize that there is a problem that must be resolved.
Until we accept that the world is the way it is because of our daily decisions
Only then you can tell me you truly love your children — your future
Only then, can I believe that you are serious about change.
Joseph Spuckler has a Masters Degree in International Relations and a deep appreciation for poetry and Modernist writers. He is a Marine Corps veteran and works as a mechanic devoting his off hours for motorcycling and reviewing poetry. Originally from Cleveland, he currently resides in Dallas.