Gloria Jean Watkins’ fight began in 1952, the very year she was born. She fought against patriarchy, sexism, racism and other demons that plagued society. As time progressed, she adopted the pen name bell hooks. She preferred all lowercase spelling to ensure the focus was placed on her message and not her name. Through her life, bell hooks took the role of a successful activist, author and professor, leaving her mark on American feminism as we know it. Unfortunately, bell hooks died December 15, 2021. As a revolutionary black feminist, hooks loss was mourned by millions and will continue to make her mark on lives for decades to come.
I have composed a list of books by bell hooks to celebrate her life and accomplishments, but also to spread her ideas. Hopefully, a quotation to summarize her thoughts will draw you in and persuade you to read more. No matter how far we have come, there remains injustices and inequalities. We can all learn something by absorbing the wise words of bell hooks.
- Ain’t i a woman? black women and feminism (1981)
bell hooks named her very first book after Sojourner Truth’s famous “Ain’t I a Woman?” speech from 1851. This book illustrates intersectionality and how race and gender are intertwined. hooks criticizes main stream feminism and points out its harmful affects.
“In an imperialist racist patriarchal society that supports and condones oppression, it is not surprising that men and women judge their worth, their personal power, by their ability to oppress others.”bell hooks, Ain’t I a Woman?
- The will to change: Men, masculinity and love (2004)
In this book, bell hooks expresses how toxic masculinity is deeply ingrained in our society, leaving a mark on all genders. She addresses intimacy and emotion from a new perspective.
“We need to highlight the role women play in perpetuating and sustaining patriarchal culture so that we will recognize patriarchy as a system women and men support equally, even if men receive more rewards from that system. Dismantling and changing patriarchal culture is work that men and women must do together.”bell hooks, The Will To Change
- BElonging: A culture of place (2009)
This reading allows audiences to develop a deeper understanding of how land and land ownership has been proven to be systematically racist and classist. hooks highlights racism in real estate, segregation and environmental impacts all while reflecting on what it means to be at home.
“…if we think of the natural landscapes that surround us as simply, blank slates, existing for humans to act upon them according to our will then we cannot exist in life sustaining harmony with the earth.”bell hooks, Belonging
bell hooks has written dozens of inspiring books. She even took on the task of beautifully composing diverse and empowering children’s books. While I can’t tell you what to do, I can suggest to read at least one of hooks’ books. They are insightful and revolutionary. If you choose to read any of her titles, your lens of the world will be altered drastically, for the better.