These 25 Images Celebrating Black Love Will Melt Your Heart

These 25 photos capture the diverse manifestations of black love beautifully—take a look.

Black love is all encompassing. It means brown skinned boys playing happily in the street, sistas in all shades hanging out and enjoying each other’s energy and beauty, romantic couples kissing in the quiet of their homes. It’s two friends who never tire of the other’s company, a mother feeding her child the milk from her breast, a father teaching his daughter how to ride a bike. Grandparents who are still in love, a man who speaks up when he sees a fellow black woman get disrespected by another person—even though he doesn’t know her name.

Black love is unity, strength, empowerment, perseverance, joy and enamor, despite existing in a world that’s told us our skin is unlovable and unworthy. It is an inspiring, empowering and affirming declaration that we will hold one another up, even when the world puts us down.

It is even more exciting when art, music and photography captures the beauty of black love. Take a moment to enjoy the breathtaking images below that display black love in various degrees. You’ll probably feel inspired to have a photoshoot of your own.

Bennie Rose

A photo posted by Roseography (@bennierose) on

A photo posted by Roseography (@bennierose) on

A photo posted by Roseography (@bennierose) on

A photo posted by Roseography (@bennierose) on

You feel as though you've stumbled into a secret moment when you view Bennie Rose’s photography. Rose captures lovers mid foreplay, mothers caressing their babies, partners soaking in the bath. What I admire most is the way he personifies nature: there, he uses nude black bodies to show the intimate relationship we have with trees, greenery and the sun.

Shannon Wallace

A photo posted by SHAN (@_yoshann) on

A photo posted by SHAN (@_yoshann) on

A photo posted by SHAN (@_yoshann) on

There’s a thoughtful narrative within Shannon Wallace’s photography; a realization of black life in candid, bittersweet moments. She highlights silent beauty and transforms everyday life into cinematic shots. The result: moving, intimate portraits of youthfulness, romance, family and more.

Fros and Beaus

Fros and Beaus celebrates naturalistas and the partners they love. The best part - you can tag your photos with #frosandbeaus for a chance to be on their page.


#Repost @critical.objects ・・・ There’s a lush, poignant sensuality to all of Shikeith’s images, one that transcends the limitations of mass-mediation (in other words, they’re still incredibly affecting even on a tiny digital screen). His photographs, installations, and videos are populated by naked black men, whose vulnerability defines our encounter with them. It’s not a vulnerability born of weakness, though, but rather of calm self-possession and quiet intimacy. The men cry, caress, gaze, rest, play. Shot exclusively in black and white, the scenes have an ethereal, velvety richness that reduces the figures to non-specific personas. Shikeith’s project is an ongoing, multimedia attempt to rewrite the narratives mapped onto the bodies of black men. “There are both structural and cultural inequalities that have formulated barriers that are dictating our psychological perception of the world, each other, and ourselves,” he says. “Through a multidisciplinary practice, I explore personal memories of being ostracized and traumatized by other Black males.” Clearly this project has no use for the white gaze, and yet I feel an intense need to write about it nonetheless. I can’t shake these images. The beauty of them is that they allow his subjects to be sad and beautiful, free and constrained, intimate and universal all at the same time. Even in the ones that suggest death, Shikeith’s vision is never morbid. ? Shikeith, What the world sees, seeing him, 2016 ? #shikeith

A photo posted by Shikeith (@shikeith) on

In Shikeith’s world, curvy, muscular silhouettes mingle within white sheets and walls, with balloons, or simply with each other. He illustrates the sensual, contemplative side of black men, sexuality, and relationships between black gay men, in mesmerizing and memorable images.


This instagram page features an array of beautiful black women and nonbinary lovers in heart melting photos. There’s also an opportunity to be featured on their page, by sending a direct message or tagging your photos with #black.lesbian.love.

Antoine Bennett

Bennett showcases the brightness and optimism of blackness. Smiling, sunny faces, ecstatic friends and cozy couples grace his Instagram page. His images are the epitome of black joy.


A plethora of gorgeous images of romantic black love, sourced by audience submissions. To see you and your boo on the page, tag #luvblacklove within your posts.

Photo: courtesy of Natsai Audrey Chieza

100 Women: Natsai Audrey Chieza is Changing the World One Petri Dish at a Time

Her interdisciplinary approach to biology and fashion has sparked conversation about the future of sustainability and pollution in textile manufacturing.

The bold jewel tones of OkayAfrica 100 Women honoree Natsai Audrey Chieza's silk scarves aren't the product of hazardous chemicals or silkscreen printing. Instead, they are the product of bacteria. Specifically coelicolor, a strain of bacteria found in soil that happens to excellently synthesize organic chemical compounds. Working in the trade for six years, the Zimbabwean materials designer quickly came to understand why the textile industry is one of the most polluting industries in the world. Knowing that the most harm occurs during the process of dyeing fabrics, she decided to take action.

Chieza has worked with leading brands such as Microsoft, Nissan, and Unilever to usher in a new approach to science and design. Through her creative R&D; studio Faber Futures, the design innovator uses the process of creating with bacteria to assist in moving mankind away from our fossil fuel dependency. As the biopigment expert put it [last year during her TED talk "Fashion has a pollution problem—can biology fix it?"], in the future we must make sure that we are not "mirroring the destructive legacies of the oil age."

Her interdisciplinary approach to biology and fashion has sparked spirited conversation about the future of sustainability and pollution in textiles. Here, Chieza expounds on her start, the pros and cons of creating something new and the urgency of change.

The following has been edited for length and clarity

Akinyi Ochieng for OkayAfrica: STEM and the arts are often conceptualized as separate worlds. However, in your career, you've managed to find the overlap. How did you, a materials designer, end up dabbling in biotechnology?

Natsai Audrey Chieza: I've always really wanted to work within the creative field. I used to work in architecture where I really enjoyed my education in a systems approach to designs and designing for multiple contexts. But I wanted to explore a different side of the design world, so I began exploring the skill and context of material flows, and how technology and futures fits within this framework of how we design.

For my own work and my practice, not having a scientific background made me try things based on what I understood about materials and what I understood about the interactions in which those materials existed in society. I'm interested in a political lens, an economic lens, and how textiles perform in reality. That's not necessarily the approach that a scientist would have taken. Now that's not to say that science isn't important—it's vital. But innovation can occur in that intersection.

Did you go into this thinking, "Oh, I'll figure it out. There must be a path to make this work"?

To be honest, when I started off, the field was not defined. I think I found something really interesting, which was about how biology was becoming a realm of design, and I just explored that as best as I knew how as a designer and non-scientist. It just so happened that around me there was a context that was imagined but enabled me six years later to say, "That's the industry where this work belongs" and stakeholders who give me a space to further my work in a creative and experimental. The path was never anything clear at all. I learned as I grew.

There's a phrase that is often repeated today: "You can't be what you can't see." But you have really created a niche for yourself. What are the benefits of entering an emerging space?

I think what's amazing is not having anyone or anything telling you that what you think is impossible. If you're carving a new territory then you must trust in your instinct and vision to effectively push where the work can be and where it exists. You're not asking permission to do anything. Of course the flip side of that is you have to bring people with you, and so part of you being able to do the work is convincing people that your vision has legitimacy and it's worth exploring, worth taking a risk to look outside of that box.

It's often quite challenging to figure out how to find the strength to push something that hasn't been done before. There's no precedent or rulebook to my work, but sometimes it's really nice to have a rulebook. [Laughs] However, I think it's made me a person who doesn't see challenges as obstacles that are in the way, but more as problems that can be solved. And I think that's the good thing.

Much of your work is about biopigments. What color excites you?

It's not really the colors that excite me. It's color as a cultural context that really fascinates me. I'm really interested in if a microbe is almost like this living factory that produces this pigment, and the technology can be shared and deployed with people as to how you work with it across the world, then what are the cultural interventions that can happen in South Africa versus in Argentina versus in the United Kingdom, based on this common microbe. I think that's always been what interests me the most, the context in which our materials exist. I think a really good example is indigo, and how from Japan to West Africa, indigo is just this really, really rich material, and the process and the craftsmanship that goes into it. I'm interested to see how the future ecology of making arises in response to biotechnologies across the world.

Where do you see yourself and your work evolving in the near or long term?

I'm sort of going through that growth moment where you've been working toward something and then you've arrived at that and you're like, "Right, what's next?" I think I'm fundamentally somebody that wants to use design as a discursive tool to understand how our technologies proliferate. My focus is really on the imagined life sciences and how they're going to become very much a part of all of our lived experiences, and particularly in the context of really urgent changes that are happening from a local level to a global level. From global warming and climate change to resource scarcity across regions, our response to what I think being able to design with living systems, can afford us in the future. So my work really is about understanding how to engage stakeholders across different sectors to grow a consensus around how we're going to leverage these sorts of technologies so that they can be technologies for good. That's really where this is going.

This article appears as part of OkayAfrica's 100 Women 2018—a project highlighting the impactful work done by African women across the globe. Throughout March, we will be publishing a series of profiles, videos, interviews and feature stories on these inspirational women.

Click here to see the entire list of 2018 honorees.

Maia & The Big Sky LP cover.

Start Your Week Off Right With This Soulful Kenyan Collaboration

Maia & the Big Sky connect with Blinky Bill for "Pawa."

Maia & the Big Sky's music routinely blends soul and funk influences with the coastal rhythms of Kenya and features singing in both English and Kiswahili.

Maia's recently tapped into the vinyl revival wave as her 11-song Maia & the Big Sky LP is reportedly the first Kenyan album released on vinyl since the 1970s.

The Nairobi-based artist is now sharing the new music video for "Pawa," the album's leading track, which we're premiering here today. Directed by Chris King, the beautiful new clip sees Maia & the Big Sky taking over the TV airwaves and minds of all of those watching, freeing them from the "power" that controls them.

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Photo: Mídia NINJA

The Assassination of Marielle Franco and the Dawn of Brazil's New Civil Rights Movement

Marielle Franco was one of a new generation of black activists trying to overturn Brazil's entrenched and violent racism

The violence in Rio de Janeiro right now is akin to a war zone, with per capita death tolls resembling those from Afghanistan and Syria. Two weeks ago I traveled there for business and stayed in the relatively safe and trendy neighborhood of Santa Teresa. Each night of my stay, was abruptly awaken by long streams of gunshots and also fireworks from the nearby favela of Falett. The fireworks—as I learned from my local friends—were not a result of any celebration, rather a signal that either drugs, guns, or the police have arrived. This is the norm for many of the 763 favelas in Rio which houses nearly 25 percent of the city's population.

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