Monday, March 21, 2005

Billie highlights bell hooks for Women's History Month

Billie: bell hooks is someone that needs to be recognized. From the web site

bell hooks is one of America's most indispensable and independent thinkers and one of the foremost Black intellectuals in America today. hooks has described herself as a "Black woman intellectual, revolutionary activist." And that's no lie. The author of many books and essays, hooks has focused attention on the myriad forms of racism, from subtle to blatant, in the United States. She has criticized the way in which the plight of Black women has been either ignored or worsened not only by what she has termed "white supremacist capitalist patriarchy" but, in many instances, by the mainstream feminist movement and the Black liberation struggle. hooks has participated in discussions of those subjects on television and radio programs, in order to ensure that her opinions are heard outside the world of academia. "We are looking at a culture where millions of people don't read or write," she has said. "If I want to get the message out there, I have to use some other format." Far from merely making use of mass media, she has frequently cited the roles played by television, film, and advertising in perpetuating racism and sexism.


Although hooks is mainly known as a feminist thinker, her writings cover a broad range of topics on gender, race, teaching and the significance of media for contemporary culture. She strongly believes that these topics cannot be dealt with as separately, but must be understood as being interconnectedness. As an example, she refers to the idea of a "White Supremacist Capitalist Patriarchy" and its interconnectedness, rather than to its more traditionally separated and component parts.
A passionate scholar, hooks is among the leading public intellectuals of her generation.


Born Gloria Watkins, she uses the name bell hooks (spelled without capitals) to honor her mother and grandmother. In 1973, she graduated Stanford University, following that with a degree from University of Wisconsin in 1976 and with a Ph.D. from the University of California, Santa Cruz in 1983.
She believes, among other things, that many current social issues (especially
race, gender, sex, class, and sexual orientation) are inextricably interconnected, and that positive social change requires confronting them "as a whole". Some of her views could be called radical or possibly anti-white. She spells "Black" with a capital but spells "white" in lower-case.


hooks urges an end to the degradation and exploitation of black women, arguing that this is an integral step in alleviating white supremacy. hooks' main concern is with black women, however, her analysis of black women's current situation in the social hierarchy necessarily comes to deal with race and class, as well as gender. In her later books, hooks begins to critique popular culture. Her book Outlaw Culture and her film Cultural Criticism and Transformation are dedicated solely to hooks' desire to nurture in her readers a "critical eye."
Hooks is committed to her ideas and that is evident in her use of a pseudonym. hooks decided to use a pseudonym both to honor her grandmother (whose name she took) and her mother, but also because the name Gloria became associated with an identity that was not completely hers. By using "bell hooks," she was able to reclaim her voice and identity. It is hooks' commitment to her ideas, however, that led her to decapitalize her name. Both the decapitalization and the pseudonym itself are attempts to take the reader's focus away from the author and place it on the content of the work. For hooks, her ideas come first and foremost, before her name and personal identity.

Here she is speaking:

BELL HOOKS: I think that I am a lucky person in that I get a lot of feedback from those "masses." I think that we have such stereotypical notions of working people. There are a lot of Black working people who read and, in fact, 20 years ago, long before white feminists were receiving my work and applauding it, I counted on that basic Black population, particularly Black women who went to the library and checked out my books and wrote to me. My concern is to enlarge that audience, particularly to reach young Black people between the ages of 15 and 25 who are the reading population but who are least likely, maybe, to hear of a bell hooks.
Part of my desire to do that has led me to go to magazines that ordinarily I might not be that engaged with politically, I want Black people to know that there are insurgent Black intellectual voices that are addressing our needs as a people who must have renewed liberation struggle.

That is from the interview,, that she did with Z Magazine. bell hooks is an important writer and one worthy of highlighting for Women's History Month.