Another one of Bell Hooks books that really got me thinking. I really shouldn’t be surprised by the way Hooks approaches certain topics. Even with her The Will To Change Men, Masculinity, and Love book I was pleasantly surprised by the way she approached feminism. It really challenged me to think about men as well as us women within the whole feminist movement and how men can actually be part of it.
Hooks gets into the topic of love specifically within the black community, but not just love within a relationship but we are blessed with topics like cherishing single mothers, embracing gayness, loving black masculinity, self-love and moving beyond shame.
Black People & Love
“The more freedom became synonymous with gaining equal rights within the existing social structure, the less love was part of the equation.”
I didn’t realise how much I needed this book till I read it, Hooks eloquently puts some of my thoughts into words. Hooks really focuses on love in ways we might miss or tend to ignore.
“Survival in racist society often dictated that black people adjust to values and social mores imposed on us by the white world, which often affected our capacity to be loving.”
Material Love Vs Emotional Love
I already had an idea that the black community favour material love over emotional love. You often hear of experiences where black people have expressed that they didn’t feel loved by those close to them, only to be presented with words like “What do you mean you don’t feel loved? Did I not put food on the table?“.
“Without a doubt, in black life across classes we tend to place too much importance on material well-being, neglecting our emotional development.”
Hooks rightfully explains that as much as providing for those we love through materialism is necessary, it does not take away from the emotional love we all need. I think as a community this is something we could work on, practice gratitude for food, a clean home, gas, electric, alongside practicing healthy expressions of love.
“When people are not struggling to overcome depression caused by material lack and ongoing deprivation they have the psychic space to focus on loving if they choose.”
Glad Hooks spoke on the ability to provide adequate love when money related issues are huge stress factors. Which does come back to the systematic oppressed we face, that makes it harder to work and live conformable lives, allowing us to provide the adequate love Hooks refers to.
“It has not been easy for black women to maintain faith in love in a society that has systemically devalued our bodies and our beings.”
Black Men & Love
“Patriarchal thinking implies that simply by being present, black fathers ensure that black children will have healthy self-esteem and self-love. This is simply not true.”
I’ve definitely heard people openly favour a two parent home, whilst ignoring that a two parent home does not equal healthy, happy, loved children. It’s a shame that people do believe the presence of a father is better than no father. Emotional absence is just as detrimental as physical absence.
“If our entire culture taught all men the art of loving, we would not have the problem of absent fathers.”
Hooks speaks on a major issue relating to black men and love. Most men are taught the practices of domination, however domination does not involve love, it’s simply power based authority that has no real benefits to a relationship, be that a romantic relationship or parent-child relationship.
A great read for those who are interested in understanding the importance of self-love and love in order to benefit the lives of black people.
A few pages in I assumed Hooks was going to go down the “love conquers all” route. But after reading this book, I feel as if true freedom from oppression is self-love. A lot of what Hooks refers to is a fundamental lack of love for ourselves and each other, particularly emotional love over material love.
“The practice of self-love is difficult for everyone in a society that is more concerned with profit than well-being, but even more difficult for black folks, as we must constantly resist the negative perceptions of blackness we are encouraged to embrace by the dominant culture.”
I love how Hooks covered as many individuals within the community, referring to love within the black gay community. Insisting that hostility and hate towards the gay community does nothing for us as whole. Also sharing that church played big part in keeping the community together during the late sixties and early seventies, as it encouraged the black community to love one another.