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A Black History Moment: Theorizing Black Women's Lives - bell hooks

A Black History Moment: Theorizing Black Women's Lives - bell hooks

An outspoken ally to the LGBTQ community, Gloria Jean Watkins, a.k.a. bell hooks, is arguably the most widely published and known black feminist scholar ever, and no Women’s Studies courses here or abroad should be without her. Born and raised in the rural Kentucky, bell hooks uses her great-grandmother's name as her pseudonym to celebrate the female legacy of her family. hooks spells her pseudonym in all lowercase to emphasize her writings rather than her name, because as she says "it is the substance of my books, not who is writing them, that is important."

bell hooks (1952- ) - feminist scholar and writer

An outspoken ally to the LGBTQ community, Gloria Jean Watkins, a.k.a. bell hooks, is arguably the most widely published and known black feminist scholar ever, and no Women’s Studies courses here or abroad should be without her.

Born and raised in the rural Kentucky, bell hooks uses her great-grandmother's name as her pseudonym to celebrate the female legacy of her family. hooks spells her pseudonym in all lowercase to emphasize her writings rather than her name, because as she says "it is the substance of my books, not who is writing them, that is important."

An outspoken cultural critic, feminist theorist and professor of English, bell hooks analyzes the politics of race, gender, class and culture, stressing their interconnectedness. Her term "white supremacist capitalist patriarchy," coined in Talking Back: Thinking Feminist, Thinking Black (1989), is used repeatedly in many of her books, and is frequently quoted by feminists and activists.

bell hooks is a huge critic, like myself, of the second wave of the feminist movement, particularly followers of Betty Friedan, who just recently passed away.

bell hooks argues that the feminist movement, though claiming to speak for all women, was dominated by white, upper/middle class interests and perspectives. Friedan’s influential book The Feminine Mystique states that all women need to leave the domestic sphere and get jobs. bell hooks points out, however, that lower-class women have always had to work and domestic life is, for them, a luxury.

In theorizing black women’s lives in her seminal text, Feminist Theory: From Margin to Center, bell hooks points out that she begins her analysis where society places her at the margin. For bell hooks the margin is a space of radical openness, and it gives black women an oppositional gaze from which to see the world, unknown to the oppressor.

In her book Sisters of the Yam: Black Women and Self-Recovery, bell hooks emphasizes the need for black women to individually and collectively heal themselves of negative images in order to actualize their real potential and power.

“Clearly, if black women want to be about the business of collective self-healing, we have to be about the business of inventing all manner of images and representations that show us the way we want to be and are. Within white - supremacist patriarchal society, it is very difficult to find affirming images of black femaleness.”

hooks graduated from Stanford University, University of Wisconsin and the University of California, Santa Cruz where she received her Ph.D.

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