Love Defined, Love Enacted

It has not been simple for black people living in this country to know love. Defining love in The Road Less Traveled as “the willingness to extend one’s self for the purpose of nurturing one’s own or another’s personal growth,” M. Scott Peck shares the prophetic insight that love is both “an intention and an action.” Using this definition of love, and applying it to black experience, it is easy to see how many black folks historically could only experience themselves as frustrated lovers, since the conditions of slavery and racial apartheid made it extremely difficult to nurture one’s own or another’s spiritual growth. Notice, that I say, difficult, not impossible. Yet, it does need to be acknowledged that oppression and exploitation pervert, distort, and impede our ability to love.

—bell hooks, “Living To Love” (1993)

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