Adds James Fugate, co-owner of Eso Won: "She's talking about a topic black males who read and think don't like to talk about. There are too many women walking around battered psychologically--we need more serious thinkers like her addressing these things in the black community."
Cleage believes her nurturing tone is often overshadowed by the severe truths she must impart: "People never look at the fact that I say black men in some cases are abusive . . . I have stories about Zeke (her companion) risking his life (to help women). They jump right over it. I think that men get stuck on that . . . because they are so used to feeling attacked. . . . I'm not bashing men, I'm trying to talk about addressing the life-and-death problem of abuse."
But lodged amid the world-weary words of fragmented communication, dead-end journeys, Pearl Cleage attempts to resuscitate the fragile notion of love. It's difficult, she says, for people to reach out, mostly because they fear the consequences--and reality: "This is a scary time in this country. So what we do is pretend that everything is OK. And then we're surprised: 'Oh my God, I can't believe those angry people burned everything in L.A.' "