bell hooks week!

“If I do not speak in a language that can be understood, then there is little chance for dialogue.” -bell hooks, from Talking Back: Thinking Feminist, Thinking Black

This week at the Ms. Blog, we are running a series of essays celebrating the life and works of the extraordinary bell hooks. hooks has made a significant impact on feminism, race theory, education, class politics, the mass media and many, many people’s lives. Here’s what’s up so far:

Audrey Bilger’s 10 years of ‘Feminism is for Everybody’ honors a classic feminist text.

In Where Do We Go From bell?, Mako Fitts discusses what the feminist movement looks like today, and how people can get involved.

Janell Hobson wonders What Would bell hooks Say? about recent cultural events and how hooks’ influence continues on.

Ileana Jiménez looks at how hooks’ books, specifically Teaching to Transgress, have transformed her high school classroom, her students, and herself,  in Teaching to Transgress in High Schools.

Susan E. King gives a glimpse of what hanging out with bell hooks in kentucky is like.

What do bell hooks, Snooki from Jersey Shore, and imperialism have in common? Amanda Montei tells us in The Perfect Tan: An Imperialist Fantasy?

Martha Pitts explains why bell hooks Is My Fairy Godmother

Feminism is a religious experience in Pam Redela’s Selling Feminism Door-to-Door

It’s All About Love for Ebony Utley, who continues hooks’ work on love by interviewing black women about their experiences with love and infidelity.

Ebony Utley misses bell hooks and Lauryn Hill in Black Women M.I.A.

Inspired by hooks’ essay “Seduced by Violence No More” in Transforming a Rape Culture, Natalie Wilson wonders What If You Refuse to Be Seduced by Violence?

Courtney Young explores the black man’s connection to feminism in Oscar Grant and LeBron James: What Would bell hooks Have Said?

In Breaking News: Lindsay Lohan Benefits From White Privilege!, Courtney Young looks at Lindsay Lohan through hooks’ writing on popular culture and whiteness.

Expect more fantastic posts on hooks throughout the week. You can check here for updates or visit bell hooks: Ms. Magazine.

In hooks’ honor, let’s create a dialogue. We want to hear your thoughts–what are your favorite books by bell hooks? When did you first read her work? How has she impacted your feminism? How do you bring hooks into your everyday life?

Photo from Flickr user Rainer Ebert under Creative Commons 2.0.


  1. what are your favorite books by bell hooks?
    Feminist Theory: Margin to Center. It was the first book on feminist theory I read that really made me want to learn more about feminist theory as well as stay in women's studies. Feminism is for Everybody will also be a favorite because its the first book of hers I read.

    When did you first read her work?
    Last Christmas. I got Feminism is for Everybody because I agreed with the title. I never heard of bell hooks until I picked up the book. I finished it in about 2 days.

    How has she impacted your feminism?
    Her work has made me start looking into how race/class/gender/sexuality/etc. intersect instead of falling into the old traps feminist have fallen into by placing women in the category of "gender" and nothing else. Her work has also helped me think of how I view feminism and my place in the movement.

    How do you bring hooks into your everyday life?
    Her writing still impacts the way I view feminism and academics in general. I take a lot of classes on gender/race/class/sexuality so her work is always in the class. It is nice getting to talk about her work in classes with other students and see what everyone gets out of it. I love discussing her work and seeing how it impacts people.

  2. I live in Malaysia. I am a great fan of bell hooks. I was introduced when I saw a quotes of hers in an article. What intrigued me was her name and the fact it was written in small caps. I started looking for her works in university and that was a futile effort. My university had many books on feminist writers but not on bell hooks. My search took me to second hand book sales where I started finding all these lovely works of hers. I felt as if she spoke of experiences which mirrored mine! Here I was a minority in Malaysia and hooks made so much sense to me which prove how universal her writing is. I love bell hooks and devour anything she writes/wrote. I listen to her talks on Youtube on a regular basis.

  3. heatheraurelia13 says:

    I am a younger person than a lot of other people, so please excuse my ignorance! I didn't know that there was a bell hooks! I am going to check out her books right now!!!

  4. heatheraurelia13 says:

    I will definitely check her books out!

  5. I'm very new to bell hooks' work as well, and am actually awaiting a couple of her books to be delivered by amazon soon. However, the little I've read so far seems great.

  6. Dr. Rachel Griffin says:

    bell hooks and the Amazing Company She Keeps

    Without question, the writings of bell hooks are phenomenal. She has carved out a rejuvenating space for Black women within and beyond higher education that unapologetically marks our pride, our pain, and our humanity. Like many who have read her work, I have found myself written within her words as if I was reading my own life off of her pages which is a profound experience for a member of any marginalized identity group that has endured the lived realities of oppression. There have been many times while reading her work that I have laughed out loud, followed by a deep cry. My tears have fallen for all of the moments I have felt silenced, afraid, and unsure of what I can possibly offer a world that more often than not writes me off as a hot mama, a money hungry whore, or a public charge despite my compassion, intellect, and hunger for justice.

    When I think about Black Feminist Thought, I think about the “doings” of Black Feminist Thought meaning that it: (1) positions Black women at the center of inquiry as vibrant and beautiful human beings who are worthy of respect and celebration; (2) requires that we look to the intersections of identities including but not limited to race, gender, sexual orientation, ability, class, and nationality to understand the lived experiences of Black women; (3) asks us to remember that history and power always matter in the lives of Black women; and (4) draws upon the profound wisdom of both the lettered and unlettered. Offering clarity on the last point, another Black Feminist writer, Patricia Hill Collins in her book entitled Black Feminist Thought: Knowledge, Consciousness, and the Politics of Empowerment says “Not all Black women intellectuals are educated. Not all Black women intellectuals work in academia….One is neither born an intellectual nor does one become one by earning a degree.” In essence, a Black Feminist thinker, writer, and activist is someone who consciously struggles on behalf of Black women. Black women intellectuals are not only academics like bell hooks and Patricia Hill Collins but they are also daycare providers, social workers, librarians, lawyers, brick layers, teachers, CEO’s, cashiers, and business owners; they are the named and unnamed throughout world history – they are everyday people.

    So I want to mark our celebration of bell hooks in particular with a strong sense of remembrance to denote the significance of Black Feminist thinkers, writers, and activists individually and as a collective for what they sacrificed to not only narrate their lives but to create spaces for us to narrate our own lives and the lives of others.

    Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth, Maria Stewart, Anna Julia Cooper, Ida B. Wells-Barnett, Zora Neale Hurston, Lorraine Hansberry, Josephine Baker, Ella Baker, Fannie Lou Hamer, Alice Walker, Toni Morrison, June Jordan, Angela Davis, Joy James, Michelle Wallace, Audre Lorde, Barbara Smith, Barbara Ransby, Johnnetta Cole, Beverly Guy-Sheftall, Kimberlé Crenshaw, and the list goes on….

    If you have never heard of these women, please be brave, ask yourself why, and look up their work. Then look into your own lives and communities for the Black Feminists among you.

    In admiration of bell hooks and the amazing company she keeps,

    Rachel Alicia Griffin, Ph.D.
    Assistant Professor
    Dept. of Speech Communication
    Southern Illinois University @ Carbondale

  7. antiintellect says:

    The Will To Change: Men, Masculinity, Love.

    It was the key that opened the gate to my freedom.

  8. bell hooks

    She inscribed "to transformative learning" in a book I handed to her after a lecture and it was very apropos. Her words offer stewardship to one's own internal dialogue to glean hidden truths.

    When I first read Outlaw Culture: Resisting Representations – she peeled my cap back. She tackled topics of race, hip hop, sexism, misogyny in ways I had not encountered before. A feminist dialoguing with and not condemning Ice "Can't Truss a Bitch?" Cube? She found a woman's worth in topics not broached by other feminists and she turned these topics into meaningful exchanges that shined a light into the cultural psyche. That's why I am a slathering fan girl and have tried to devour her every word.

    This woman became my instant hero and I her slathering fan girl.
    I became insatiable and tried to read as many books of hers as possible. hooked 4 life.

  9. Communion: the female search for love is my favorite bell hooks book, it was great to sit and read this book and the things she said over and over again. It forced me to look at a lot of things in my life.

  10. My favorite author of all time! All about love is revolutionary and should be read by everyone. Everything comes back to love.

  11. These essays are fantastic! bell hooks changed my life. The first book of hers I read was Yearning, but it was Black Looks and the two books on men that completely opened my eyes. She's a national treasure.

  12. To be honest, I am conflicted about her. I grew up reading her books and they had such a positive impact on my life. However, I have also heard rumblings about her rampant plagiarism from other black feminists in academia. Say it ain’t so, bell! This is why I aim to keep people off pedestals in the first place.

    And If it IS true, I think it’s important for her to be held accountable by her academic community, rather than protected because of her brand name status.

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