For blacks in America there are few good, healthy models of love.
In the 1950s most blacks, being Christians, got their deeper ideas about love from the Bible: Love God with all your heart and love others as you love yourself. Love means being kind and forgiving. Love is the most important thing in life. Etc.
Great stuff but not what you saw in daily life, where making money or keeping a clean house were given greater attention. Worse, families were often loveless, some even violent.
Hollywood pushed a self-sacrificing model of female love of putting the happiness and well-being of children and husbands first. Examples: “Leave It to Beaver” (1957-1963), “Father Knows Best” (1954-1960), “Imitation of Life” (1959).
Many blacks still see it as noble, like in “Soul Food” (1997). But such women, while sometimes receiving gratitude or devotion, rarely received love in return. By always putting themselves last they did not love themselves enough to love others properly.
By the 1980s this model of female self-sacrifice was widely discredited. Having seen what became of their mothers, many black women went to the opposite extreme: living only for themselves and their own material well-being. The diva or bitch goddess model.
Most black men, meanwhile, had never been taught to love. Their model of manhood was to be hard, to never show their feelings, to never let down their guard. But women cannot be properly loved by such hard men.
It gets worse:
The black view of the world was now mainly informed by film and television, most of it created by whites and sell-out blacks:
We may be portrayed as funny, angry, sexy, dashing, beautiful, sassy, and fierce, but we are rarely represented as loving. … When black characters are affectionate and caring, they are usually directing that care to white folks. …
From Hollywood movies … we learn that black folks will betray each other; that black men will give their lives to protect white folks while showing little or no concern for black family and friends; that black women are hostile castrating bitches …. that if we dare to love one another, our love will blossom and not last, that suffering, more than love, is our fate.
Examples of film and television pushing bad models of black love:
- 1986-2011: “The Oprah Winfrey Show”
- 1989: “Harlem Nights”
- 1991: “Jungle Fever”
- 1993: “A Perfect World”
- 1993: “The Pelican Brief”
- 1994: “Crooklyn”
- 1995: “Waiting to Exhale”
- 1996: “A Time to Kill”
- 1996: “Independence Day”
- 1996: “The Long Kiss Goodnight”
- 1997: “Jackie Brown”
- 1997: “Men in Black”
- 1997: “Soul Food”
- 1999: “Green Mile”
- 1999: “The Best Man”
Examples of those with good models:
- 1974-1979: “Good Times” (if you do not count J.J’s cooning)
- 1979: “Killer of Sheep”
- 1984-1992: “The Cosby Show”
- 1997: “Sprung”
- 1998: “Woo”
Hooks advises, in addition to being careful what you fill your head with, to turn to your religion and its sacred writings about love as a guide to how to lead your life.