cover image Salvation: Black People and Love

Salvation: Black People and Love

bell hooks. William Morrow & Company, $22 (225pp) ISBN 978-0-06-018494-0

""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.