‘Our Love’ is passable

Published: Wednesday, May 1, 2013 at 2:53 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, May 1, 2013 at 2:53 p.m.

The song always pops up when you least expect it.


“Where Did Our Love Go: Love and Relationships in the African-American Community,” edited by Gil L. Robertson IV, c. 2013, Bolden, $16, 240 pages.

There you are, minding your own business, you hear a few notes, and you are pulled back to a wonderfully horrible time, starry dreams, laughter, bitterness, love lost. That old love song might just be a “precious melody,” but it almost brings you to your knees.

Love is such a complicated thing: easy to fall into and easy to fall out. And in the new anthology, “Where Did Our Love Go,” edited by Gil L. Robertson IV, you will see that you’re not alone in being alone.

The statistics are quite sobering.

Forty-two percent of black women ages 25-34 are unmarried. The number is similar for black men, higher for those over age 34. African Americans simply are not keeping pace, marriage-wise, with their white counterparts.

But why? Is it a legacy of slavery, a cultural issue, “being picky,” or economic fallout? Or is marriage historically “ill-suited” for people of color?

Perhaps, as one writer hypothesizes, relationship woes could be an issue because many young blacks have never “actually seen one family unit consisting of a father and mother, plus two children.” Or maybe the timing for marriage was wrong, as another believes.

The old “there aren’t enough decent black men to go around” is bunk. Malcolm X proved it wrong, although many continue to believe it. Black men often think black women only want someone equal or better financially, so how can they play against that?

But then – every once in awhile — something magic happens. You meet the right person, you do a dance of courtship, and you find yourself in front of a minister, priest or judge.

With the help of dozens of activists, professionals, and essayists (including himself), editor Gil L. Robertson IV examines love in all its messy categories, including the beginning, the goodness and the end.

Readers, I think, will like the varied tones found in this book: some are humorous, with a bit of sarcasm befitting love gone wrong, others are so sweet that you will feel almost voyeuristic while reading, while still others are laced with anger, bitterness and fist-shaking.

And then, there are the hopeful ones, which round out the selection and make this book browse-able to match your mood.

Terri Schlichenmeyer never goes anywhere without a book. She lives on a hill in Wisconsin with two dogs and 11,000 books.

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