My heart simultaneously breaks and rejoices at the news that bell hooks is now an ancestor. I say rejoices, because what a legacy she left for us.
bell hooks' work drastically changed the course of my life. Writing so bluntly and lovingly about things I dared not not say aloud, her writing made me feel seen and understood, and gave me a sense of belonging and purpose... to continue to root my activism in love. Although I falter sometimes (and often), her teachings help guide me back to my center.
Born Gloria Jean Watkins, bell hooks was a child who spoke back. Growing up in a segregated community of the south-central US state Kentucky, she fought against the ways in which her family and society sought to relegate her into a docile, black female identity. This refusal to be complicit in perpetuating her own oppression would define her life and career as a leader in black feminist thought.
It was when she first spoke back in public that she initially identified with her self-claimed moniker. An adult had dismissed her with a comparison to Bell Hooks, her maternal grandmother, in whose bold tongue and defiant attitude she found inspiration. She decapitalised the initials in order for others to focus on the substance of her ideas, rather than herself as a person.
hooks would become a prolific author and commentator. With notable titles including Talking Back, Ain’t I a Woman? and From Margin to Centre, her work scrutinises and challenges the ways in which media, culture and society uphold dominant oppressive structures.
While dealing with heavily politicized subject matter, bell hooks' writings are rooted in love and how love can, even in the face of oppression and injustice, serve as the great liberator.
If everyone read bell hooks, the world would be a better place.If you have yet to do so, check her out.
Give thanks for the rebels.
Give thanks for the women who will not be put in their place.
Give thanks for the warriors of love.
Thank you, bell, for helping me know myself.
(and inspiring my brand. Melanin Rising would not exist without you.)