What's Love Got to Do with It?: Understanding and Healing the Rift Between Black Men and Women

Donna L. Franklin, Author Simon & Schuster $25 (256p) ISBN 978-0-684-81851-1
In her provocative second book, Franklin (Ensuring Inequality) delves into the history of black heterosexual relationships, tackling slavery's impact on the black family and asserting that relationships between black men and black women are in crisis. No one knows this better, she says, than educated, young African-American women who find themselves in a state of desperation upon viewing the shrinking pool of eligible black men. A professor at Smith College's School for Social Work, Franklin posits that the same skills that make black women successful in the outside world are detrimental when it comes to building and sustaining successful relationships at home. For example, she asserts that some black men feel threatened by a black woman's pursuit of advanced degrees because that puts him lower on her list of priorities in a society that seeks to emasculate him at every turn. Franklin's book sets itself apart from similar how-tos with its trenchant historical arguments. For example, when discussing why so many of ""the most eligible black men"" marry white women, Franklin provides a cogent analysis of the way ""oppressive Jim Crow policies and practices developed by white men to preserve the `sanctity' of white women [established] `conquests' of white women as signs of manhood."" Similarly, she provides enlightening historical background on such issues as the misconception that black women lack femininity, the rise of repressive paternalism in black culture and the way that racial solidarity often overlooks gender inequality. Franklin's contribution to the dialogue about gender relations in the African-American community is sure to stir the pot, and her detailed analysis should get high marks both for its scholarship and its emotional intelligence. Agent, Faith Childs. Eight-city author tour. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 09/04/2000
Release date: 09/01/2000
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Paperback - 256 pages - 978-0-7432-0321-0
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