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Bell Hooks

  • Usually, when people talk about the 'strength' of black women they are referring to the way in which they perceive black women coping with oppression. They ignore the reality that to be strong in the face of oppression is not the same as overcoming oppression, that endurance is not to be confused with transformation. ... The tendency to romanticize the black female experience that began in the feminist movement was reflected in the culture as a whole.

  • No other group in America has so had their identity socialized out of existence as have black women. ... When black people are talked about the focus tends to be on black men; and when women are talked about the focus tends to be on white women.

  • Language is also a place of struggle.

    • Bell Hooks,
    • "on self-recovery," Talking Back ()
  • Within the new self-help books for women, patriarachy and male domination are rarely identified as forces that lead to the oppression, exploitation, and domination of women. Instead, these books suggest that individual relationships between men and women can be changed solely by women making the right choices.

    • Bell Hooks,
    • "on self-recovery," Talking Back ()
  • Few people who are hit once by someone they love respond in the way they might to a singular physical assault by a stranger.

    • Bell Hooks,
    • "violence in intimate relationships: a feminist perspective," Talking Back ()
  • Within a capitalist consumer society, the cult of personality has the power to subsume ideas, to make the person, the personality into the product and not the work itself.

    • Bell Hooks,
    • "to gloria, who is she: on using a pseudonym," Talking Back ()
  • ... there is no politically neutral art.

    • Bell Hooks,
    • in The Other Side ()
  • Although there has never been any official body of black people in the United States who have gathered as anthropologists and/or ethnographers to study whiteness, black folks have, from slavery on, shared in conversations with one another 'special' knowledge of whiteness gleaned from close scrutiny of white people. Deemed special because it was not a way of knowing that has been recorded fully in written material, its purpose was to help black folks cope and survive in a white supremacist society. For years, black domestic servants, working in white homes, acting as informants, brought knowledge back to segregated communities — details, facts, observations, and psychoanalytic readings of the white Other.

  • Collectively black people remain rather silent about representations of whiteness in the black imagination. As in the old days of racial segregation where black folks learned to 'wear the mask,' many of us pretend to be comfortable in the face of whiteness only to turn our backs and give expression to intense levels of discomfort. Especially talked about is the representation of whiteness as terrorizing. ... Looking past stereotypes to consider various representations of whiteness in the black imagination, I appeal to memory, to my earliest recollections of ways these issues were raised in black life. Returning to memories of growing up in the social circumstances created by racial apartheid, to all black spaces on the edges of town, I reinhabit a location where black folks associated whiteness with the terrible, the terrifying, the terrorizing. White people were regarded as terrorists, especially those who dared to enter that segregated space of blackness. ... Even though it was a long time ago ... associations of whiteness with terror and the terrorizing remain. Even though I live and move in spaces where I am surrounded by whiteness, there is no comfort that makes the terrorism disappear. All black people in the United States, irrespective of their class status or politics, live with the possibility that they will be terrorized by whiteness.

  • The function of art is to do more than tell it like it is — it's to imagine what is possible.

  • Life-transforming ideas have always come to me through books.

  • Writing and the hope of writing pulls me back from the edges of despair. I believe insanity and despair are at times one and the same.

    • Bell Hooks,
    • "Writing From the Darkness" (1989), in Wendy Martin, ed., The Beacon Book of Essays by Contemporary American Women ()
  • Only grown-ups think that the things children say come out of nowhere. We know they come from the deepest parts of ourselves.

  • The world demands that you work for it, make families, provide, take no time to listen to your own heart beating.

  • She hates the color pink. Grown-ups think it should be her favorite color. Pink innocence, pink dreams, pink the color of something alive but not quite allowed to be fully living.

  • I will not have my life narrowed down. I will not bow down to somebody else's whim or to someone else's ignorance.

    • Bell Hooks
  • To begin by always thinking of love as an action rather than a feeling is one way in which anyone using the word in this manner automatically assumes accountability and responsibility.

Bell Hooks, U.S. poet, writer, cultural critic

(1952)

Real name: Gloria Jean Watkins. She often lowercases her name: bell hooks.