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The Best Kind of Loving: Black Woman's Guide to Finding Intimacy, aby Gwendolyn Gol Grant
Synopses & Reviews
Over the years I've been with so many of you talking about what you feel, what you hope, what your disappointments are, what you want for yourselves, and what you want for your children. I've talked with so many sisters that sometimes it feels as though I know every one of you personally; that's why I want to have this conversation with you in the old "kitchen talkin' time" fashion. Like many of you, I'm worried about all of us as Black women of African descent, and I'm worried about the African American family. Women have the great burden of being the carriers of our culture. When we build strong lives, we can build strong relationships. When we build strong relationships, we can be a strong community.
Almost every sister I meet reveals to me that she is searching for ways to keep both her heart alive and her culture alive. These are not easy goals, and when you are born Black and female, you don't need anybody to tell you about the special trials you regularly face. No matter how beautiful, strong, talented, smart, or joyful we may be, as women of African descent, we have a unique set of inequalities, burdens, and challenges that are ours and ours alone. And probably nothing is more of a challenge right now than what is taking place in our romantic relationships. As many of you know, I've been a columnist for "Essence" magazine for more than ten years. Before that, I had a live radio call-in show three days a week from 2 a.m. to 5 a.m., and I was always amazed by the number of people who were describing the same kind of pain in different anonymous voices. Now, as I go around the country, leading seminars and workshops on male-femalerelationships and sexuality, what I'm still hearing is one tale of woe after another. Sisters are searching for intimacy and finding alienation. As a result, I hear you telling me that you feel defeated and angry. The effort of trying to find or maintain a nurturing relationship with a man is leaving you emotionally exhausted and thoroughly confused.
It's always been my belief that every time White America catches a case of the sniffles, Black America comes down with walking pneumonia. This means that our communities and families suffer from just about every malady that plagues White America, but we always seem to get it worse. Think about what this means for us as women who are trying to lead productive lives and enjoy satisfying relationships.
We all know about the intimacy problems in male-female relationships in general: inadequate communication, sexual confusion, infidelity, abandonment, commitment fears, conflicting goals, anger, betrayal, loss of trust, and unrealistic expectations. The list of ways in which men and women in America are failing each other seems to go on forever. These problems take on additional meaning when you look at research that reflects what's going on in our African American families and communities. If you're hoping for a loving family life, the chilling statistics you see on television or read about in the daily papers are but small reminders of what you experience personally in your day-to-day life. Whether you are married or single, a parent or childless, you can't help but feel alone and burdened by the double-jeopardy status of being Black and female.
Relationship issues among Black women and Black men are even more complex than those amongwhite women and white men. Although there are certainly tremendous overlaps in many of the fundamental issues we all struggle with, such as self-esteem, loneliness, fear, control, and power, there are also profound differences. Here's a truth we all recognize: In addition to the social dynamics that affect male-female communications in general, as African Americans, we carry the added burdens of myths and stereotypes that grow out of our real history of slavery, second-class citizenship, and economic disenfranchisement.
You can't, for example, talk about the relationships between Black women and Black men without acknowledging the relationship between the African American and the white culture in this country. The two are so powerfully intertwined that they can never be regarded as totally separate, despite any racial tensions.
No matter how materially successful any of us may become, no matter how many professional accolades we may acquire, as Black women, we carry with us a shared history that has created shared fears and expectations. These common issues will ultimately affect every romantic relationship any of us enter.
In other words, when sisters talk about self-esteem, we must acknowledge how our self-esteem has been specifically shaped by living in a predominantly white culture. When we talk about expectations, we must acknowledge how the Black culture and the white culture have shaped different and sometimes conflicting expectations. When we talk about societal role models, we must acknowledge how a Black woman's earliest relationship role models were affected by the pressures of racism. And when we talk about our relationship to money, we must acknowledge the rolesthat money and diminished earning power have played in the Black family.
Too many men and women of African descent have unwittingly bought into destructive cultural myths, with the result that we sometimes see each other as stereotypes, rather than as people. These myths, perpetuated not only by the white European culture, but also within the African American community, have made it extraordinarily difficult for us as Black women and Black men to see each other clearly or speak to each other honestly.
Obviously, I believe much can be done to improve our interpersonal relationships. From where I sit, the male-female relationship isn't just about two people; it's about the cohesion of the community. We've got to relearn ways of constructing strong male-female relationships, strong families, and strong communities. We've got to relearn the brother-and-sister principle, so we stop fighting with each other and go back to working together.
It's important for all of us to keep in mind that before the 1960s, our families were intact. They were stable units that supported one another. We must have been doing something right back then, and we can do it again. After slavery, when our families were split up by forces we certainly couldn't control, we established benevolent organizations to help us find each other, connect us to our relatives, and put our families back together. Black people historically have always recognized the importance of these primary bonds.
Obviously, now something has gone terribly wrong in the way we connect to one another; where once the Black community fought together against seemingly insurmountable odds to hold our families together, we are now fallingapart. If you are a typical Black woman, struggling with your own relationships, nobody feels this more intensely than you. The question is, What can be done about it?
In your own relationships, how can you establish dialogues that don't turn into heavy mouth battling? How can you find and keep long-term intimacy and love? How do you resolve your own internal conflicts and your own tendencies to run away from potentially good relationships? How can you learn to avoid the men who will cause you pain? What can you do to heal and protect yourself? And how can you contribute to the healing and protection of the Black community as a whole?
Our problems are real, but we've fixed real problems before. And we did it together. We have to remember that Black men and women have a history of being social equals because we come from an egalitarian cultural experience. During slavery, the shared-load philosophy was our saving grace. Now, more than ever, all of us must cling to the historical egalitarian, supportive brother-sister principle.
If sisters are going to be able to establish viable romantic rela
It has often been said that "if white America has a case of the sniffles, Black America catches walking pneumonia." When this credo is applied to relationships, common problems such as inadequate communication, commitment fears, financial struggles and infidelity carry an even greater weight. Yet, with hundreds of relationship books on the market, virtually none has explored the specific circumstances impacting relationships between African-American men and women.
In The Best Kind of Loving: A Black Woman's Guide to Finding Intimacy, renowned psychologist Dr. Gwendolyn Goldsby Grant addresses head-on the complex challenges in African-American relationships. "In addition to the social dynamics affecting male-female communications in general, as African-Americans, we carry the added burdens of myths and stereotypes that grow out of our real history of slavery, second-class citizenship and economic disenfranchisement," Grant explains.
In writing The Best Kind of Loving, Grant has provided an invaluable resource for Black women searching to understand the choices they make, the men they love and how to make the most of their strength, intelligence and wit. Compulsively readable, The Best Kind of Loving is unique in its scope and vision; women of all races and backgrounds will laugh, sympathize and nod their heads in recognition as they read about others not unlike themselves. Giving both pragmatic and realistic advice, Grant serves both as an advisor and confidant; she knows which situations may not work out, but also gives women ways to make the best of less-than-ideal circumstances.
Dr. Grant draws on her experiences to uncover new solutions for dealing with the special pressures, expectations, and concerns troubling black women who want to put more love into their lives. She illustrates ways to establish satisfying romantic relationships, while emphasizing the importance of friends, community, and spirituality in African-American women's lives today.
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