#325: The Courage Of bell hooks
Happy New Year, loyal readers, and thank you for being here.
This week we’re honoring bell hooks, who passed away last month. A visionary thinker and outstanding writer, Ms. hooks taught me that education is a practice of freedom, that literacy is a means of critical consciousness, and that classrooms should be places of inquiry and love. She wrote, “The moment we choose to love, we begin to move towards freedom, to act in ways that liberate ourselves and others.”
Today’s issue includes three tributes to ms. Hooks, all of which I recommend. But if you have time to read just one piece, make it the last one, an essay on love, in her own words.
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Shamira Ibrahim: “It is near impossible to calculate the level of courage it took for hooks to serve as an early architect of concepts that now feel self-evident. A walking embodiment of the term cultural worker, fearlessly cutting through every medium, viewing her work as one of the purest expressions of love for Black people there is — a belief in our ability to strive for greater and demand more.” (7 min)
We Will Always Rage On With You
George Yancy: “As I reflect on bell, I was not only touched by how I came to know her personally, but her work has also had a profound influence on my pedagogy. In Teaching to Transgress, bell writes, ‘The classroom, with all its limitations, remains a location of possibility. In that field of possibility we have the opportunity to labor for freedom, to demand of ourselves and our comrades, an openness of mind and heart that allows us to face reality even as we collectively imagine ways to move beyond boundaries, to transgress.’ ” (13 min)
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The Pedagogical Legacy Of bell hooks
Danica Savonick: “In our contemporary moment, many professors want to know (in Ibram X. Kendi’s words) ‘how to be an antiracist’ and (in Bettina Love’s words) how to prepare students to ‘do more than survive.’ Here, hooks’s work offers guidance. She describes how well-intentioned efforts to teach ‘diverse’ literature can reinscribe racism and sexism. She explains the different forms resistance to transgressive teaching might take. She acknowledges how difficult, messy, and slow it can be to introduce students to new paradigms. And she affirms the importance of compassion and respect for students’ pain, especially as they engage in the process of detaching from a previously held worldview and begin reaching toward a new one.” (9 min)
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Love As The Practice Of Freedom
bell hooks: “Whenever those of us who are members of exploited and oppressed groups dare to critically interrogate our locations, the identities and allegiances that inform how we live our lives, we begin the process of decolonization. If we discover in ourselves self-hatred, low self-esteem, or internalized white supremacist thinking and we face it, we can begin to heal. Acknowledging the truth of our reality, both individual and collective, is a necessary stage for personal and political growth. This is usually the most painful stage in the process of learning to love – the one many of us seek to avoid. Again, once we choose love, we instinctively possess the inner resources to confront that pain. Moving through the pain to the other side we find the joy, the freedom of spirit that a love ethic brings.” (17 min)
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