Tuesday, November 17, 2009

"The Conversation: How Black Men and Women Can Build Loving, Trusting Relationships" by Hill Harper

The conversation. You may be wondering, “What conversation do I need to have?” Hill Harper explains what we need to talk about in order for black people to have good, lasting relationships. There seems to be an endless number of books out there that discuss black relationships. However, as you read this book, you will see why this one is unique.

Hill Harper is an accomplished film, television and stage actor. Harper graduated magna cum laude from Brown University with a Bachelor of Arts degree and graduated with a J.D. (cum laude) from Harvard Law School, as well as with a Masters in Public Administration from the Kennedy School of Government. In 2004, People magazine selected Harper as one of their “Sexiest Men Alive.” Harper is author of the New York Times bestsellers “Letters to a Young Brother,” which won two NAACP awards and was named Best Book for Young Adults by the American Library Association in 2007, and “Letters to a Young Sister,” which was released in June 2008. With a good education, great career, and a “way with the ladies,” Harper is in a good position to give advice on relationships.

Harper’s latest book brings men and women together to explore the communication gap that has destroyed relationships. He offers advice on how to bridge that gap. Communication is the key in a relationship. Without good communication, a relationship is doomed to failure. This is true of any relationship, regardless of race. However, African-Americans face unique challenges. Historically, blacks in America have been able to endure oppression and hardship because of having strong families. In recent decades, the family has taken a severe hit. So many of our children are being raised in single-parent homes. If our relationships survive, the family unit can stick together. Not only will the children benefit, but our communities will grow stronger as well.

Regarding the relationship between males and females, Harper writes:

"...I started to wonder whether men and women even talk to each other. I mean really talk—easily and freely, without reservation—like we do with our friends. I even started to wonder whether men and women considered each other friends, or if we automatically compartmentalized our relationships: We're either lovers or we're platonic friends, but not both. Truth be told, the comments I heard made me wonder—despite all the emphatic "I love men" and "I love women" declarations—whether men and women really even liked each other at all." (pg. 21)

Even though Harper does not claim to be a relationship expert, he raises some good questions leading us all to think about how we handle our relationships and how we can make them succeed. I think this book is worth reading.

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