By Matt Morgan
Igwebuike and the Office of Multicultural Learning host Black History Month Book Club featuring bell hooks’ “All About Love.”
The concept of self-love isn’t just commonplace in American culture today, it’s embraced as part of good mental health.
But that wasn’t always the case. Back in 2000 when bell hooks wrote “All About Love,” a book that explores the impact of love in various forms, the topic of self-love was revolutionary. Before she passed away in 2021, hooks said the chapter on self-love was the most difficult to write because she worried prioritizing self-care would be viewed as selfish. Instead, hooks put words to the topic in a way few had before.
“I feel lucky and privileged to live in a time when the narrative about self-love is changing,” political science and ethnic studies major Grace Evans ’23 says.
Evans first read “All About Love” in Associate Professor Sakina Hughes’ “Black Girl Magic” class and was taken with it immediately. The book is indeed all about love, but not just romantic love. Instead, each chapter examines a different type of love from redemptive love to childhood love to spirituality and love.
“I’m pretty sure I ran out of ink in my pen when I first read this book,” Evans says. “I just kept underlining all these powerful lines, and I'm just like my goodness, this is a special book.”
So when Igwebuike and the Office of Multicultural Learning decided to host a book club as part of its Black History Month programming, Evans immediately thought of “All About Love.” Not only is it a book that promotes healing in a time of discord, but hooks’ representation of a variety of lived experiences makes it a perfect fit for Igwe’s theme of “Love and Intersectionality.”
With financial support from Shá Duncan Smith, vice president of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion at Santa Clara, and Ray Plaza, director of the Office for Diversity and Inclusion, Evans and co-organizer Kaylen Chase ’23 (political science and economics) purchased 50 copies of the book and distributed them on campus Feb. 1. Chase wasn’t sure what kind of reception the project would get, but all 50 books were gone in just two hours.
“I still have people coming up to me asking if we have more,” Chase says.
The early enthusiasm for the book club is encouraging to Chase, who says the idea behind the book club is to promote active engagement during Black History Month. She points out that Black History Month celebrations are sometimes overwhelmed by quick facts or “firsts” in Black history, rather than something more substantive.
Instead, Chase wanted to organize an event that bridges the gap between history and people’s current lives. She envisions everyone from students on campus to alumni around the world learning from each other’s own unique takeaways from “All About Love.”
“Black History Month is about history, but more than anything, it's a time to celebrate Black people's contributions and celebrate the lived experiences of everyday Black people,” Chase says. “That’s how that intersectionality piece really comes. Books like ‘All About Love’ allow us to take a step back and look at all the pieces of the puzzle to understand how we experience life and how we experience love.”
Evans says she has lots of favorite parts in the book, but there’s one excerpt she's quick to share when someone asks about it. It comes at the end of chapter two, which is about childhood love:
“Love is as love does, and it is our responsibility to give children love. When we love children, we acknowledge by our every action that they are not property, that they have rights—that we respect and uphold their rights. Without justice there can be no love.”
“I love that last line,” Evans says. “This book is just so special to me.”
While all the free copies of the book have been distributed, Evans and Chase encourage people to pick up their own copy so they can participate in the book reflection meeting Feb. 27 at the Diversity and Inclusion Student Center (DISC) in SCDI from 6:30-7:30pm. If you can’t afford to buy a physical version of the book, Evans suggests people listen to an audio version available for free on YouTube.
“This book is accessible to everyone. You don't have to be Black to read this book. You don't have to be Black to take things away from this book,” Evans says. “I’m so happy we get to share it with people.”
Feb 15, 2023
Grace Evans ’23