All someone would have to do to register the tectonic impact activist and author bell hooks had on contemporary writers, thinkers and people is check Twitter: on Wednesday, news broke that hooks had passed away at the age of 69, and creatives of all kinds are effusively expressing their grief. hooks wrote several books’ worth of influential and compassionate intersectional theory, but perhaps her best known works are All About Love: New Visions, a radical re-examination of “love” that posits that the word is best used as a verb, not a noun; Feminism is for everybody: passionate politics; and Ain’t I A Woman: Black women and feminism, an intersectional examination of oppression that centered around the abuse directed at Blackness and femininity.
For so many thinkers, hooks afforded her readers the opportunity to rethink how marginalization, tenderness and relationships between human beings have been tragically misunderstood and gone about in all the wrong ways. Her writing also taught people that their individual perspectives, divorced from the structural inequities that divide us, mattered.
And There We Wept, the first book she published, was a work of poetry. Poetry was essential to the way hooks understood the world and constructed her arguments about the way we live. She also worked as a professor in Berea College in Kentucky, having taught at different universities for much of her career. Cumulatively, hooks published over 30 books within the course of her lifetime, gave many academic lectures and led copious feminist discussion groups; community engagement and the exchange of ideas with her peers was just as essential to her work as the individual rigors of scholarship.
In terms of her own education, hooks got her undergraduate degree at Stanford University, a master’s degree in English at the University of Wisconsin and her University of California at Santa Cruz. Its fitting that her abundant work has gone on to educate so many.