Black female writers, editors create Hallmark card collection to inspire racial resilience

'We are unequivocally speaking to the fact that we know the Black community is deeply hurting right now,' Courtney Taylor said of the collection

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Melvina Young, a master writer for Hallmark, has translated her intention of keeping her finger on the pulse of her community by turning their emotions into words of empowerment and empathy that say “we matter.”

“Our job really hinges on the power of empathy, that ability to get into someone else’s experience that has never been your own and to treat that experience with respect,” Young told CNN. “Consumers trust us to serve their emotional lives, and that’s an incredibly important thing.”

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As injustices against the Black community and the country’s reckoning with its history of racial injustice surfaced during the summer of 2020, Young united with ten other Black female writers, illustrators, and editors, who contribute to Hallmark’s beloved “Mahogany” collection, to create the “Uplifted & Empowered” collection. 

The collection consists of 11 cards written for and by Black people in need of support with words of solidarity, hope, and resilience.

“We are unequivocally speaking to the fact that we know the Black community is deeply hurting right now and that we are connected with our traditions of resilience and overcoming,” said Young. “That tradition of Black support networks got us through all our tribulations and joys and it still gets us through.”

Courtney Taylor, a senior writer and community manager for Hallmark who helped contribute to the collection, said the cards are a way to help aid in the healing process for people in her community, especially for activists who are on the frontlines for change.

In a statement, Taylor said that Black America is “joyous and fiercely beautiful” as well as “stitched with an unending and unjust difficulty” as she noted that the forces of racism and systematic oppression brings a constant “fight for our rights, our equality, and our lives.”

“Surviving is hard to do alone. I’ve learned that you need community. And as a writer, I’ve learned that words are one of the most sacred gifts that can be shared within a community,” Taylor said.

“My job at Hallmark is all about writing those perfect words, words that heal and hold relationships together. But there are not many cards that address the difficulty of race and cards that speak directly to the truth of Black experiences.”

Photo: CNN.com

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Young connected “Uplifted & Empowerment” and how the Black community has revered the power of words for generations in the form of prayers, hymns, music, shouts, and protests.

“The words I wrote in these cards are the same words I would give to my 23-year-old daughter, who’s brilliant and Black and struggling with racial injustice and inequality,” Young said. “They are the same words my mama, who held my hand as I walked through the front door of my newly integrated elementary school, said to me. These are the same words I tell my brother who’s a six feet four teddy bear of a Black man, but for whom the world only sees danger.”

She added her hopes that the collection will allow Black people to feel seen and heard, saying, “I hope that they can hear their own voices spoken back to them in their authentic cultural cadence with the expressiveness and lyricism and hidden poetry and casualness of our real conversations.”

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