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bell hooks

American author, feminist, and social activist
bell hooks

Gloria Jean Watkins, better known as bell hooks (born September 25, 1952), is a Black American university professor specializing in social criticism focused on groups distinguished by estabished differences in social power.



  • Black women control the world. We are through being discriminated against.
  • "Popular escapist fiction enchants adult readers without challenging them to be educated for critical consciousness." - From (2003) Rock My Soul
  • "People with healthy self-esteem do not need to create pretend identities." - From (2003) Rock My Soul
  • "What nationalist educators often fail to recognize is that merely being taught by teachers who are black has not and will not solve the problem if the teachers have been socialized to internalize racist thinking." - From (2003) Rock My Soul
  • "A dangerous form of psychological splitting had to have taken place, and it continues to take place, in the psyches of many African Americans who can on one hand oppose racism, and then on the other hand passively absorb ways of thinking about beauty that are rooted in white supremacist thought." - From (2003) Rock My Soul
  • "When television screens had only rare images of black folks, black people were more critically vigilant about these representations. Even when blackness was represented 'positiviely,' as it was in early black television shows like Julia, which focused on the life of a black nurse, the beauty standard was a reflection of white supremacist aesthetics." - From (2003) Rock My Soul
  • "The more Lil' Kim distorted her natural beauty to become a cartoonlike caricature of whiteness, the larger her success." - From (2003) Rock My Soul
  • "Indeed much of the literature written about black folks in the post-civil rights era emphasized the need for jobs. Material advancement was deemed the pressing agenda. Mental health concerns were not a high priority." - From (2003) Rock My Soul
  • "In classroom settings I have often listened to groups of students tell me that racism really no longer shapes the contours of our lives, that there is no such thing as racial difference, that "we are all just people." Then a few minutes later I give them an exercise. I ask if they were about to die and could choose to come back as a white male, a white female, a black female, or a black male, which identity would they choose. Each time I do this exercise, most individuals, irrespective of gender or race invariably choose whiteness, and most often male whiteness. Black females are the least chosen. When I ask students to explain their choice they proceed to do a sophisticated analysis of privilege based on race (with perspectives that take gender and class into consideration)." - From (2003) Teaching Community: A Pedagogy of Hope
  • "The fierce willingness to repudiate domination in a holistic manner is the starting point for progressive cultural revolution." --From Women, Art, and Society: Fourth Edition (2007) by Whitney Chadwick ISBN 0-500-20393-8
  • The crisis facing men is not the crisis of masculinity, it is the crisis of patriarchal masculinity. Until we make this distinction clear, men will continue to fear that any critique of patriarchy represents a threat.
    • The Will To Change: Men, Masculinity, and Love (2003).
  • Open, honest, truth-telling individuals value privacy. We all need spaces where we can be alone with thoughts and feelings - where we can experience healthy psychological autonomy and can choose to share when we want to. - From All About Love: New Visions

Ain't I a WomanEdit

  • The process begins with the individual woman’s acceptance that American women, without exception, are socialized to be racist, classist and sexist, in varying degrees, and that labeling ourselves feminists does not change the fact that we must consciously work to rid ourselves of the legacy of negative socialization.
  • It is obvious that many women have appropriated feminism to serve their own ends, especially those white women who have been at the forefront of the movement; but rather than resigning myself to this appropriation I choose to re-appropriate the term “feminism,” to focus on the fact that to be “feminist” in any authentic sense of the term is to want for all people, female and male, liberation from sexist role patterns, domination, and oppression.
  • While it is in no way racist for any author to write a book exclusively about white women, it is fundamentally racist for books to be published that focus solely on the American white woman's experience in which that experience is assumed to be the American woman's experience.
  • Racism has always been a divisive force separating black men and white men, and sexism has been a force that unites the two groups.
  • Marcus Garvey, Elijah Muhammed, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, Stokely Carmichael, Amiri Baraka and other black male leaders have righteously supported patriarchy. They have all argued that it is absolutely necessary for black men to relegate black women to a subordinate position both in the political sphere and in home life.
  • The fear of being alone, or of being unloved, had caused women of all races to passively accept sexism and sexist oppression.

Feminist Theory: From Margin to CenterEdit

  • There will be no mass-based feminist movement as long as feminist ideas are understood only by a well-educated few.
  • Since we live in a society that promotes faddism and temporary superficial adaptation of different values, we are easily convinced that changes have occurred in arenas where there has been little or no change.
  • ..the struggle to end sexist oppression that focuses on destroying the cultural basis for such domination strengthens other liberation struggles. Individuals who fight for the eradication of sexism without struggles to end racism or classism undermine their own efforts. Individuals who fight for the eradication of racism or classism while supporting sexist oppression are helping to maintain the cultural basis of all forms of group oppression.
  • The significance of feminist movement (when it is not co-opted by opportunistic, reactionary forces) is that it offers a new ideological meeting ground for the sexes, a space for criticism, struggle, and transformation.
  • Another response to racism has been the establishment of unlearning racism workshops, which are often led by white women. These workshops are important, yet they tend to focus primarily on cathartic individual psychological personal prejudice without stressing the need for corresponding change in political commitment and action. A woman who attends an unlearning racism workshop and learns to acknowledge that she is racist is no less a threat than one who does not. Acknowledgment of racism is significant when it leads to transformation.
  • Feminism is the struggle to end sexist oppression. Therefore, it is necessarily a struggle to eradicate the ideology of domination that permeates Western culture on various levels, as well as a commitment to reorganizing society so that the self-development of people can take precedence over imperialism, economic expansion, and material desires.
  • As a black woman interested in feminist movement, I am often asked whether being black is more important than being a woman; whether feminist struggle to end sexist oppression is more important than the struggle to racism or vice versa. All such questions are rooted in competitive either/or thinking, the belief that the self is formed in opposition to an other...Most people are socialized to think in terms of opposition rather than compatibility. Rather than seeing anti-racist work as totally compatible with working to end sexist oppression, they often see them as two movements competing for first place.
  • If one assumes, as I do, that battery is caused by the belief permeating this culture that hierarchical rule and coercive authority are natural, then all our relationships tend to be based on power and domination, and thus all forms of battery are linked.

Killing Rage: Ending Racism (1995)Edit

  • As we search as a nation for constructive ways to challenge racism and white supremacy, it is absolutely essential that progressive female voices gain a hearing.
  • To counter the fixation on a rhetoric of victimhood, black folks must engage in a discourse of self-determination.
    • Killing Rage - Ending Racism

Outlaw Culture:Resisting Representations (2006)Edit

  • Revolutionary feminism embraces men who are able to change, who are capable of responding mutually in a subject-to-subject encounter where desire and fulfillment are in no way linked to coercive subjugation. This feminist vision of the sexual imaginary is the space few men seem able to enter.
  • The moment we choose to love we begin to move against domination, against oppression. The moment we choose to love we begin to move towards freedom, to act in ways that liberate ourselves and others.

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