Updated: Jan 6
She once interviewed Lil Kim for a 1997 issue of Paper Magazine shortly after the release of the album Hardcore.
In 2016, she dared to question Beyonce’s Lemonade stand and whether or not she was a legitimate feminist, as proclaimed.
Her views on love lead to several published books and the proposal that we treat love like an action verb rather than a form of identifying an emotion.
She was bold in her content, Black in her voice, and always ready to grab any system by the collar and shake it until the truth falls like a crab apple from a deciduous tree.
Writing about bell hooks means gripping the lines and respectfully lowering the volume on your punctation. Although her choice to not capitalize her name led to more intrigue than intended, it bothered her little to none as such a simple mistake couldn’t outweigh the underlying meaning behind it. Great-granddaughter to Bell Blair Hooks, born Gloria Jean Watkins, she took on her maternal elder’s name as a way of paying homage to a vital part of who she is.
“We were the offspring of the women who came before us”
Hopeful to keep her audience focused on the actual written content rather than the person behind it, the lowercase spelling of her name is, in many ways, a rebellious act of taking control of how she presented herself and her musings to the world. Using her personal experiences, research, and a whole lotta common sense, she effectively delivered her concrete messages about feminism and what it means to grow up a Black girl in a racist, American society with confidence, poise, and precision. She was a feminist and a poet in sync with the natural harmonies words present. Her poetry took on the shape of their respective subjects and gave them a landscape to build ideas on while her lectures carved space in feminism for Black women’s experiences and voices to have a valued existence.
“My works is so eclectic; it spans such a broad spectrum”
hooks was a beloved professor and published over 30 books that explored the dynamics of racism and sexism and how they are projected upon Black women. While her work could easily translate to anyone reading with an open mind, she was a Black woman speaking with a Black voice and of Black experiences. We found ourselves represented in our multifaced truths throughout her works and it was as if our stories were given a grand arena to take their bow in. For that, we love her. We thank ms. hooks for her daring vulnerability sacrificed in an effort to disrupt the ill-fated norms. Where patriarchy proclaimed to be the answer, bell hooks flashed a smile of pity and orchestrated her words to challenge the very grounds by which it stood, no matter who waved its flag. She criticized both Black and white people, men and women, and would war with any version of feminism that was not inclusive of Black women, and all other women of color, minorities, or those otherwise left out of white feminism.
She passed away at the age of 69 on December 15th but she left a legacy that will secure her as an exalted ancestor. Her voice outweighs that of mortality. If you’ve never heard of or read anything from bell hooks, there's no shame in that as it’s never too late to introduce yourself. A few great places to start are “Ain’t I A Woman”, which she wrote at age 18, “Communion”, (2002), “Feminism is For Everybody” (2000), and her widely popular “All About Love” (2000). In 2014, she founded “The bell hooks Institute” in Berea, KY with the aim of “bring(ing) together academics with local community members to study, learn, and engage in critical dialogue.”
While she will undoubtedly be missed, she left behind a world enrichened by her knowledge and perspective, and the best part: we have easy access to it all. hooks, line, and sync.
To learn more about bell hooks, visit the institute’s website at: https://www.bellhooksinstitute.com/