Talk show host Tavis Smiley's new book, Keeping the Faith, is a collection of stories and essays from Smiley and other African Americans, about overcoming hardship.
Smiley wrote the book amid some adversity in his own life — what he called a double whammy. He had lost his job at Black Entertainment Television, and was also heartbroken over the end of a relationship with a woman he had hoped to marry.
Here is an excerpt from Keeping the Faith:
WHAT BLACK LOVE IS … By Tavis Smiley
The concept of Black love is how this book came to be. Yes, so many of the stories are about overcoming and succeeding against the odds. But the real and true theme underlying the book is Black love.
I came up with the idea of putting together this book after I was fired from Black Entertainment Television (BET). Prior to being fired, I thought I knew something about Black love. But after I lost my job, the outpouring of Black love shown to me, from California to the Carolinas, was phenomenal. It was Black love that lifted me during the darkest moment of my professional career. It was Black love that lifted me out of my despair. I discovered that, outside of God's love, nothing is more powerful.
One of the greatest challenges we face as Black people is whether or not we can take the notion of Black love and use it proactively, as opposed to reactively. Black love is a powerful force. The Black community has a way of coming together and rescuing each other and lifting each other up when someone has been attacked, undermined, or otherwise disenfranchised. But the challenge for us as African Americans is to act proactively with regard to the important issues in our community. If we could harness this notion of Black love and demonstrate it on the front end of our life experiences, as opposed to the back end of our struggles, we would become an awesome force to be reckoned with.
Using Black love, we could eradicate Black-on-Black crime, Black nihilism, and Black powerlessness, all of which exist in our communities because of a lack of self-love. We could even strengthen Black male-female relationships.
Forme, what was so uplifting and rewarding about my discovery of the genuine meaning of Black love was the relationship between one's "value" and love. Value, I learned, is not what you think of yourself, but rather what other people think of you. The outpouring of Black love that was shown to me across this country after I was fired from BET made a clear statement about my value to African Americans--who I was, what I was about, and the way that Black America perceived me. I learned that my real value wasn't what BET thought of me or even what I thought of myself. It had more to do with what other Black folks thought of me. I didn't realize the powerful force of Black love that I became the beneficiary of. I was completely overwhelmed.