Salvation : black people and love /
bell hooks.
New York : Harper Perennial, 2001.
xxiv, 225 pages ; 21 cm.
9780060959494 (pbk.) :
More Details
New York : Harper Perennial, 2001.
9780060959494 (pbk.) :
general note
Originally published: New York: William Morrow, 2000.
catalogue key
A Look Inside
About the Author
Author Affiliation
bell hooks is a cultural critic, feminist theorist, and writer. Celebrated as one of our nation's leading public intellectuals by The Atlantic Monthly, as well as one of Utne Reader's 100 Visionaries Who Could Change Your Life, she is a charismatic speaker who divides her time among teaching, writing, and lecturing around the world. Previously a professor in the English departments at Yale University and Oberlin College, hooks is now a Distinguished Professor of English at City College and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York
This item was nominated for the following awards:
Hurston/Wright Legacy Award, USA, 2002 : Nominated
First Chapter
Black People and Love

Chapter One

The Heart of the Matter

Every now and then I return to poor black communities I lived in or visited during my childhood. These neighborhoods that were once vibrant, full of life, with flowers planted outside the walls of run-down shacks, folks on the porch, are now barren landscapes. Many of them look like war zones. Returning, I bear witness to desolation. Surrounded by an aura of emptiness, these places, once shrouded in hope, now stand like barren arms, lonely and empty. No one moves into their embrace to touch, to be held and to hold, to comfort. Poverty has not created this desolation; the generations of folks who inhabited these landscapes have always been poor. What I witness are ravages of the spirit, the debris left after emotional assault and explosion. What I witness is heart-wrenching loss, despair, and a lovelessness so profound it alters the nature of environments both inside and out.

The desolation of these places where love was and is now gone is just one among many signs of the ongoing crisis of spirit that ravages black people and black communities everywhere. More often than not this crisis of spirit is talked about by political leaders and community organizers as engendered by life-threatening poverty, violence, or the ravages of addiction. While it is utterly true that all these forces undermine our capacity to be well, underlying these issues is a profound spiritual crisis. As a people we are losing heart. Our collective crisis is as much an emotional one as a material one. It cannot be healed simply by money. We know this because so many of the leaders who preach to us about the necessity of gaining material privilege, who are holders of wealth and status, are as lost, as disenabled emotionally, as those among us who lack material well-being. Leaders who are addicted to alcohol, shopping, violence, or gaining power and fame by any means necessary rarely offer to anyone a vision of emotional well-being that can heal and restore broken lives and broken communities.

To heal our wounded communities, which are diverse and multilayered, we must return to a love ethic, one that is exemplified by the combined forces of care, respect, knowledge, and responsibility. Throughout our history in this nation black leaders have spoken about the importance of love. Indeed, now and then contemporary leaders stress the importance of a love ethic. Referring to the love ethic in his work Race Matters, philosopher Cornel West contends: "A love ethic has nothing to do with sentimental feelings or tribal connections.... Self-love and love of others are both modes toward increasing self-valuation and encouraging political resistance in one's community." While contemporary black leaders and thinkers talk about the need to have a love ethic as the foundation of struggles for black self-determination, in actuality most nonfiction writing about black experience does not address the issue of love in an extensive manner.

Since our leaders and scholars agree that one measure of the crisis black people are experiencing is lovelessness, it should be evident that we need a body of literature, both sociological and psychological work, addressing the issue of love among black people, its relevance to political struggle, its meaning in our private lives. I began thinking about the lack of commentary on love in black life when the debate about separate schools for black boys was taking place. Everywhere I turned, I kept hearing that black boys needed discipline, that they needed to learn the meaning of hard work, that they needed to have strong role models who would set boundaries for them and teach obedience. Again and again a militaristic model of boot camp and basic training was presented as a solution to the behavior problems of young black men. Not once did I hear anyone speak about black boys needing love as a foundation that would ensure the development of sound self-esteem, self-love, and love of others. Even though black mate leaders were among the voices defining lovelessness as a key cause of hopelessness and despair among black youth, none of them talked about the role of love in the education of young black boys.

When huge numbers of black males, young and old, gathered in the nation's capital for the Million Man March, there was no discussion of love. The word "love" was not evoked by any prominent speaker. Again and again when we talk about the contemporary crisis in black life, discussions of love are absent. This has not always been the case. Throughout our history in this country, radical black political leadership has emerged from religious settings, whether they be Christian, Islamic, or less recognized spiritual paths. Within these religions, especially Christianity, love has been central.

The Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. was a prophet of love preaching to the souls of black folks and our nonwhite allies in struggles everywhere. His collection of sermons Strength to Love was first published in 1963. Later, in 1967, in an address to a group of antiwar clergy, he stated: "When I speak of love I am not speaking of some sentimental and weak response. I am speaking of that force which all of the great religions have seen as the supreme unifying principle of life. Love is somehow the key that unlocks the door which leads to ultimate reality. This Hindu-Moslem-Christian-Jewish-Buddhist belief about ultimate reality is beautifully summed up in the first epistle of Saint John: 'Let us love one another, for love is God and everyone that loveth is both of God and knoweth God.'" Much of King's focus on love as the fundamental principle that should guide the freedom struggle was directed toward upholding his belief in nonviolence. While he admonished black people again and again to reconize the improtance of loving our enemies, of not hating white people, he did not give much attention to the issue of self-love...

Black People and Love
. Copyright © by bell hooks. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Excerpted from Salvation: Black People and Love by bell hooks
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Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Library Journal on 2001-02-01:
Feminist scholar hooks (All About Love), who believes that there is a crisis of "lovelessness" in the black community, continues her exploration of love with a different slant: she addresses its meaning in black experience today and offers a plan of action for "black survivial and self-determination." At the heart of the matter are poor neighborhoods that were once lively but are now deserted, a lack of spirituality, an emphasis on gaining material things, and the resulting collapse of community. Hooks also covers the issues of self-love, single mothers, black masculinity, heterosexual love, and homosexual love. She appeals to Martin Luther King, Cornel West, writer June Jordan, and others for words of wisdom in this well-written and informative work. Ultimately, she urges African Americans to return to love, the clear path to healing our wounded environment. A welcome addition to most academic and some public libraries. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 10/15/00.]DAnn Burns, "Library Journal" (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Appeared in Publishers Weekly on 2000-12-04:
"The transformative power of love is the foundation of all meaningful social change," contends hooks in this impassioned plea to embattled African-American communities to embrace love as a force for change. Returning to the subject of last year's All About Love, this leading feminist scholar focuses this time on a love ethic that, she maintains, has the potential to undo the long-term effects of neglect, poverty and despair. As in other recent books on black relationships (such as George Edmond Smith and Gwendolyn Goldsby Grant's More Than Sex), hooks refutes the myth stemming from the time of slavery that black people haven't attempted to normalize their lives, citing documentation of familial love and strong community ties. Much of the conflict in relationships between black men and women can be linked, she suggests, to the sense of loss and abandonment arising from increasingly fractured black families; as a result, many members of the hip-hop generation mistrust love. Although hooks covers overworked turf in her chapters on self-love, her flair for crisp writing surfaces again in her celebration of black women's propensity for cultivating love in their communities and in her stinging arguments against the scapegoating of black single mothers. In the later chapters, hooks reaches beyond the theoretical to address various walks of black life. Her fans will delight in her array of cultural references, from Zora Neale Hurston, Cornel West and Erich Fromm to Eldridge Cleaver, Olga Silverstein and Lil' Kim. Despite recent criticism that hooks may have lost some of her bite, this book provides ample evidence to the contrary. (Feb. 1 Forecast: Though it won't defend hooks from the charge that she is rewriting the same book, this effort is more focused and potent that her last. Supported by an 11-city tour that will include events that play to her following among college students, this title should keep hooks's fans satisfied. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Main Description
Acclaimed visionary and intellectual bell hooks began her exploration of the meaning of love in American culture with the bestselling All About Love: New Visions. Here she continues her love song to the nation in the groundbreaking and soul-stirring Salvation: Black People and Love. Whether talking about the legacy of slavery, relationships and marriage in Black life, the prose and poetry of our most revered artists and leaders, the liberation movements of the 1950s, '60s, and '70s, or hip-hop and gangsta rap culture, hooks lets us know what love's got to do with it. Salvation is work that helps us heal -- and shows us how to create beloved American communities.
Unpaid Annotation
Written from both historical and cultural perspectives, "Salvation" takes an incisive look at the transformative power of love in the lives of African Americans.
Table of Contents
Introduction: love is our hopep. xv
The heart of the matterp. 3
We wear the maskp. 18
The issue of self-lovep. 32
Valuing ourselves rightlyp. 55
Moving beyond shamep. 71
Mama lovep. 93
Cherishing single mothersp. 113
Loving black masculinity--fathers, lovers, friendsp. 128
Heterosexual love--union and reunionp. 154
Embracing gayness--unbroken circlesp. 188
Loving justicep. 209
Table of Contents provided by Syndetics. All Rights Reserved.

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