“One of the most vital ways we sustain ourselves is by building communities of resistance, places where we know we are not alone.” —bell hooks
bell hooks has died. According to the Washington Post, the cause was end-stage renal failure. She was 69.
Born Gloria Jean Watkins in Hopkinsville, Kentucky, hooks became an internationally renowned author, critic, scholar and feminist. She died Dec. 15 at her home in Berea, Kentucky. The name, bell hooks was a nod to a late great-grandmother and the lower case spelling an oath by hooks to have her ideas and work be the focus not her identity. She explains the name in her book, “Talking Back.”
hooks attended segregated schools in Christian County as a child and then attended Stanford University where she earned her Bachelors in English Literature in 1973. She followed that up with a Masters of English from the University of Wisconsin in 1976 and then her doctorate in Literature from University of California Santa Cruz in 1983.
In 1981, hooks released her first book, “Ain’t I a Woman? Black Women and Feminism,” and her writing career continued with over 40 books including children’s books, essays and poetry. She was focused on topics such as racism, love, feminism and justice.
Having been raised during segregation and experiencing racism, hooks’ work helped define the conversations around race. She helped redefine feminism to include the ideas and lives of Black women as essential to the feminist movement, which had primarily worked on issues relevant to white women and not all women.
hooks returned to Kentucky in 2004 to teach at Berea. She wrote about this move in her book, “Belonging: A Culture of Place.” Berea College released a statement and had this to say about the news of hooks’ passing, “Berea College is deeply saddened about the death of bell hooks, Distinguished Professor in Residence in Appalachian Studies, prodigious author, public intellectual and one of the country’s foremost feminist scholars.” The school is the home of the bell hooks institute which has her collection of contemporary African American art, a repository for her papers and other personal artifacts.
hooks had been ill for some time. Arrangement announcements will be made at a later time, however the family did request that donations go to Christian County Literacy Council via Paypal, which promotes reading for children or the Museums of Historic Hopkinsville Christian County where there is a biographical exhibit.
Many had comments about her life and legacy. Her influence transcended the boundaries of nation, race and gender.
“Sometimes people try to destroy you, precisely because they recognize your power – not because they don’t see it, but because they see it and they don’t want it to exist.” – bell hooks
Finally get your rest, bell hooks. 💔
— Hannah Drake (@HannahDrake628) December 15, 2021
Bell hooks gigante.
Descanse em paz.
Obrigado por partilhar sua luz com o mundo!
— emicida (@emicida) December 15, 2021
Rest In Peace and Power, bell hooks.
Thank you for everything. pic.twitter.com/3oaIdTrAfD
— Black Women Radicals (@blkwomenradical) December 15, 2021
The passing of bell hooks hurts, deeply. At the same time, as a human being I feel so grateful she gave humanity so many gifts. AIN’T I A WOMAN: BLACK WOMEN AND FEMINISM is one of her many classics. And ALL ABOUT LOVE changed me. Thank you, bell hooks. Rest in our love. 1/4 pic.twitter.com/lXnAlaZpng
— Ibram X. Kendi (@DrIbram) December 15, 2021