bell hooks is (a Girl Power Academy) featured Feminist, Activist, Author recommendation

bell hooks (New School lecture series) photo
bell hooks (New School lecture series) photo

Simply put, feminism is a movement to end sexism, sexist exploitation, and oppression. This was a definition of feminism I offered in Feminist Theory: From Margin to Center more than 10 years ago. It was my hope at the time that it would become a common definition everyone would use. I liked this definition because it did not imply that men were the enemy. By naming sexism as the problem it went directly to the heart of the matter. Practically, it is a definition which implies that all sexist thinking and action is the problem, whether those who perpetuate it are female or male, child or adult. It is also broad enough to include an understanding of systemic institutionalized sexism. As a definition it is open-ended. To understand feminism it implies one has to necessarily understand sexism.

bell-hooks-book-cover-1As all advocates of feminist politics know, most people do not understand sexism, or if they do, they think it is not a problem. Masses of people think that feminism is always and only about women seeking to be equal to men. And a huge majority of these folks think feminism is anti-male. Their misunderstanding of feminist politics reflects the reality that most folks learn about feminism from patriarchal mass media.”  (~quotes from bell hooks, chapter 1 ‘FEMINIST POLITICS Where We Stand’ in Feminism is for Everybody)

To Read the complete chapter or read the book Feminism is for Everybody go to:  Feminism is for Everybody by bell hooks PDF


May 11, 2016

“The issue is really one of standpoint. From what political perspective do we dream, look, create, and take action? For those of us who dare to desire differently, who seek to look away from the conventional ways of seeing blackness and ourselves, the issue of race and representation is not just a question of critiquing the status quo. It is also about transforming the image, creating alternatives, asking ourselves questions about what types of images subvert, pose critical alternatives, transform our world views and move us away from dualistic thinking about good and bad. Making a space for the transgressive image, the outlaw rebel vision, is essential to any effort to create a context for transformation. And even then little progress is made if we transform images without shifting paradigms, changing perspectives, and ways of looking.” (~ from Black Looks: Race and Representation)

To read more of bell hooks blog check out the bell hooks Institute at:

cinematographer Arthur Jafa and bell hooks New School lecture series photo
cinematographer Arthur Jafa and bell hooks New School lecture series photo

This is one of the best in the lecture series by bell hooks at the New School.  Cinematographer Arthur Jafa discusses Transgressions in Public Spaces, ‘who is looking’, and the common ground of racism and sexism with bell hooks as well as shares some of his stellar film work.


“Poetry is a useful place for lamentation…poems are a place where we can cry out.” ― bell hooks, Appalachian Elegy: Poetry and Place

“The Woman’s Mourning Song”

i cry
i cry high
this mourning song
my heart rises
sun in hand
to make the bread
i rise
my heavy work hand
the voice of many singers
the warmth of many ovens comfort
the warrior in me returns
to slay sorrow
to make the bread
to sing the mourning song
i cry high
i cry high
the mourning song
go away death
go from love’s house
go make your empty bed
by bell hooks

“sometimes falling rain
carries memories of betrayal
there in the woods
where she was not meant to be
too young she believes
in her right to be free
in her body
free from harm
believing nature
a wilderness she can enter
be solaced
believing the power
that there be sacred place
that there can be atonement now
she returns with no fear
facing the past
ready to risk
knowing these woods now
hold beauty and danger”
quote from bell hooks, Appalachian Elegy: Poetry and Place

Those who have influenced bell hooks include African-American abolitionist and feminist Sojourner Truth (whose speech Ain’t I a Woman? inspired her first major work), Brazilian educator Paulo Freire (whose perspectives on education she embraces in her theory of engaged pedagogy), Peruvian theologian and Dominican priest Gustavo Gutierrez, psychologist Erich Fromm, playwright Lorraine Hansberry, Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh, African-American writer James Baldwin, Guyanese historian Walter Rodney, African-American black nationalist leader Malcolm X, and African-American civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr (who addresses how the strength of love unites communities). As bell hooks says of Martin Luther King’s notion of a beloved community, “he had a profound awareness that the people involved in oppressive institutions will not change from the logics and practices of domination without engagement with those who are striving for a better way.”


Threat or Threatened? (the Violence of Being Born Male)

When women speak up about stopping sexual harassment and violence against women, they often encounter men who protest in one form or another, and we use words like “minimization” and “denial” and “perpetuation” when we deconstruct their behavior patterns, all of which lands flat or on deaf ears unless we’re preaching to the choir.

I’d like to take this time to appreciate the men in the choir and anyone willing to listen and help sing:

bell hooks and Kevin Powell: Black Masculinity, Threat or Threatened (a discussion about black masculinity in popular culture today presented by Eugene Lang College of Liberal Arts)

Kevin Powell is an activist, public speaker and author of 12 books, including his new title The Education of Kevin Powell: A Boy’s Journey into Manhood.

bell hooks is an author, activist, feminist and scholar-in-residence at The New School.

Below: When your friends and family stay silent, they consent…

Violence against women: It’s a Men’s Issue (TedTalk) by Jackson Katz is an anti-sexist activist and expert on violence, media and masculinities. An author, filmmaker, educator and social theorist, Katz has worked in gender violence prevention work with diverse groups of men and boys in sports culture and the military, and has pioneered work in critical media literacy. Katz is the creator and co-founder of the Mentors in Violence Prevention (MVP) program, which advocates the ‘bystander approach’ to sexual and domestic violence prevention. You’ve also seen him in the award winning documentary “MissRepresentation.”

Below are helpful links to articles and podcasts specifically dealing with recovery and healing from trauma:

On Being: “Beyond PTSD to Moral Injury”

On Being: “How Trauma and Resilience Cross Generations”

On Being: “Depression and Resilience”

bell hooks feminist discussion series: Who is Listening / What is Liberating / And How to Take Shelter

The three following discussions are each over an hour long.  Please enjoy them at your own pace.  Diehards may feel free to watch them back to back of course.

bell hooks~ Black Female Voices: Who is Listening  A public dialogue between bell hooks + Melissa Harris-Perry  (a week-long residency at The New School)

Melissa Harris-Perry: founding director of the Anna Julia Cooper Project on Gender, Race, and Politics in the South, Professor of Political Science at Tulane University, author, and host of MSNBC’s “Melissa Harris-Perry,”

To read an online copy of bell hooks  FEMINISM IS FOR EVERYBODY Passionate Politics go to:

bell hooks~ Are You Still a Slave? Liberating the Black Female Body Eugene Lang College The New School ( presents a conversation with bell hooks, scholar-in-residence at Eugene Lang College The New School for Liberal Arts ( and other leading voices in black feminism and the LGBTQ community: author Marci Blackman (Tradition), film director Shola Lynch (Free Angela and All Political Prisoners), and author and activist Janet Mock (Redefining Realness), about liberating the black female body.

For more than three decades, bell hooks (née Gloria Watkins) has been recognized internationally as a scholar, poet, author, and radical thinker. The dozens of books and articles she has published span several genres, including cultural and political analyses and critiques, personal memoirs, poetry collections, and children’s books. Her writings cover topics of gender, race, class, spirituality, teaching, and the significance of media in contemporary culture. According to Dr. hooks, these topics must be understood as interconnected in the production of systems of oppression and class domination.

The bell hooks residency at The New School is an opportunity for students to engage with education as a practice of freedom. They can participate in a series of intimate conversations and public dialogues on subjects ranging from politics to love, race to spirituality, gender to lived bodies.

bell hooks~ How Do We Define Feminist Liberation?  Eugene Lang College The New School presents a conversation with bell hooks, with R&B singer Lisa Fischer (20 Feet from Stardom) and actress Kim Sykes (Pariah) about celebrating black female power.

Lisa Fischer performing “Gimme Shelter” at the BAM R&B Festival at MetroTech in Brooklyn, NY 8-7-14.

(note of interest: bell hooks was among the visiting writers and speakers during K. J .Legry’s freshman college orientation.  She conducted K. J.’s smaller group workshop about diversity.)

T is for Transgression / G is for Gaze: a discussion about Who is looking and How (with bell hooks and Arthur Jafa)

Rhetorical Question and or Food for Thought:

What is a Classic (Black) Man without his Top General(s)?

Above: Transgression in Public Spaces a discussion with Arthur Jafa & bell hooks

Jidenna “Classic Man” (Remix) ft. Kendrick Lamar (Arthur Jafa: cinematographer)

The Following excerpt was written by Arthur Jafa:

Arthur Jafa was co Producer and Director of Photography on Julie Dash’s Daughters of the Dust and Spike Lee’s feature production Crooklyn. His interest in “Black Visual Intonation” is moving into the domain of painting.  For a complete reading visit:

The New Black Cinema by Arthur Jafa:

The title Menace II Society misleadingly conjures expectations of a film short on complexity and long on violence. Violence it has, but what the film suggested to me was a brutal update of Killer of Sheep, a sublime standard to which any representation of black male victimization and its concurrent effects must be compared. Menace II Society covers much of the same terrain as Boyz in the Hood. It describes with ruthless efficiency the no exit quality of life in South Central L.A. What makes Menace II Society devastatingly on target is the relentless way in which it assays the cyclic nature of black on black violence and the pathological strategies employed by those for whom there is no escape. “Bitch, bitch, bitch . . . “: the characters obsessively use misogynistic verbosity as a means of dislodging their internalization of a fixed positionality in the continuing and nonconsensual s/m dynamic that characterizes black/ white relations.
I recently gave a lecture on the development of black film practices grounded in African American cultural assumptions. I pointed out the importance of “primal sites,” or those group experiences, such as the Middle Passage. that have determined so much of the psychic makeup of the African-American community- how formal reconfigurations of hegemonic norms into conventions and methodologies better suited to African American expressivity are dependent upon a sophisticated understanding of these sites. I was somewhat stunned when a questioner said that I seemed to be celebrating a sort of s/ m model of black culture. I replied, I wouldn’t call it ‘celebrating,’ but I am interested in trauma and s/m as frames within which to understand certain wide scale pathology behavior in the black community.” I also recounted a talk with a friend about trying to imagine a work that would function for black men as Ntozake Shange’s Colored Girls . . . had functioned for black women. But what I’d actually asked was, Could one imagine a work that functioned like Color Purple, not Colored Girls. The slip surprised me. It was hard to imagine a work that placed a male character in the Celie position. This, I decided, was because victimization, as a state, as an identity, was, in the black male psyche, feminized to such a degree that imagining “the male victim became a near impossibility. Adopting the identity of -victim” was de facto feminizing to the point of erasing one’s masculinity, revoking one’s status as a male. Of course there’s a long history of black men as victims, but this history has seldom been embedded in a black male subject position. The history of lynching and castration, for example, has rarely been articulated on the level of the pain of the castrated, or as the sexual violation that it is.

Contemporary black male articulation of victimization, notably in hip-hop, is typically constructed as a sort of insult to black manhood. The word “pain” seldom comes up. To speak of one’s pain would be to acknowledge one’s vulnerability- vulnerability in this context being understood as weakness. One can even read black cool- or its more recent configuration, being hard-as a sort of denial of victim status, a means of deflecting the insult generally added to injury. Menace II Society shows characters applying a number of disassociative strategies to the problematic of being victimized, being reduced to female status. One could say they resist being lowered in the food chain. What this communicates is a world view in which there are only two positions to occupy, that of the top or bottom, the victimizer or victim, the abuser or the abused. Bitches, male or female, are fucked.

Original Version: Jidenna “Classic Man” ft. Roman GianArthur (Arthur Jafa: cinematographer) Top General: Janelle Monáeáe’s-wondaland-records-and-epic-records-launch-landmark-joint-venture-partnership