“...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” – Ain’t I A Woman: Black Women and Feminism, 1981
The formidable bell hooks (born Gloria Jean Watkins) passed away on December 15th at age 69 after an extended illness. hooks studied English and literature, earning a Masters in English from the University of Wisconsin and a Phd in literature at UC Santa Cruz. Her first book Ain’t I a Woman was published in 1981, and has become a “classic work of feminist scholarship on the nature of Black womanhood” (LA times, 2021)
hooks’ writing explored feminist theory, oppression, race, class and marginalization, teaching us ways to understand and approach sameness and difference. Many of us vividly recall our first introduction to her work in undergraduate classes, where her explanation of feminism resonated with us, and her passion and fire propelled us to do better- to ask for more, question oppression and support each other.
Hooks has written more than 30 books (available in 15 languages) on race, love, class and gender—she has been credited for expanding the women’s movement to include voices previously marginalized and to encompass new views/perspectives and lived realities beyond those of white middle/upper class women.
As Clint Smith commented
“bell hooks was an extraordinary writer, thinker, and scholar who gave us new language with which to make sense of the world around us. Her work was imbued with a deep commitment to truth-telling, but also with a profound sense of care and love for community. She was a treasure.”
hooks was an inspiration, and will be greatly missed. For more of hooks’ work we encourage you to check out the books below, and/or the bell hooks institute