bell hooks, Notable Feminist And Author, Dies At 69
hooks' influence reverberates across various fields of study in academia and hip-hop.
December 15, 2021 at 6:15 pm
bell hooks, a revered feminist and author, died on Wednesday at her home in Berea, Kentucky, surrounded by loved ones. The 69-year-old's family announced her passing in a statement on social media.
— Enter Ebony (@Enter_Ebony) December 15, 2021
"The author, professor, critic and feminist made her transition early this am from her home, surrounded by family and friends," the family's statement read on Twitter.
hooks, born Gloria Jean Watkins, published her inaugural collection of poems in 1978, titled And There We Wept under her pseudonym. In 1981, she published her first book, Ain't I a Woman? Black Women and Feminism.
She went on to write 40 books that are available in 15 languages. During her career, she touched on topics including, feminism, racism, politics, gender roles, love and spirituality.
The author was born on Sept. 25, 1952, to Veodis and Rosa Bell Watkins in Hopkinsville, Kentucky. During segregation, she attended school in Christian County and later attended Stanford University in California. She graduated with a master's in English at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and obtained her doctorate in literature from the University of California, Santa Cruz.
hooks embraced the name of her great-grandmother as her pen name and explained that the reason she used lower case letters was to focus on the material of her books, not on her person.
In 2004, she taught at Berea College, and in 2010 she opened the bell hooks Institute on the campus. The institute holds her complete collection of Black art, heirlooms, papers and copies of her books, according to the Lexington Herald-Leader.
“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 said in a statement.
hooks spoke to former columnist Tom Eblen in an interview in 2018 regarding her induction into the Kentucky Writers' Hall of Fame.
“Lots of people aren’t comfortable coming on college campuses for a talk. They feel like that’s not their place,” she said. "The thing about the Institute is that its goal is to be this sort of democratic location. No degrees required."
hooks' influence reverberates across various fields of study in academia and hip-hop. Three years ago, Vic Mensa spoke to Power 105's The Breakfast Club and expressed how the author helped him to reevaluate Black masculinity and its proximity to violence, OkayPlayer reports.
“My whole life, I was programmed in that way. When I started to read bell hooks, that’s when I peeped game and started to break down why I was so violent,” Mensa said, likely referencing hooks' 2003 book, We Real Cool: Black Men and Masculinity, a compilation of essays that probes the varied methods white America demeans Black men.
"Hearing her talk about Black masculinity, male masculinity, and how the traditional avenues of being a man were taken from the Black man in America all the way back from the boat in slavery, then up through Reconstruction and it was only Black women working," the rapper said.
"Black men had to find their own new ways of feeling masculine or being a man because they weren’t able to be the breadwinner — start playing Jazz music, and also being very aggressive and violent. A couple years back, I really started to dissect that. I’m still growing and trying to grow out of those things," he continued.
hooks' homegoing will be made public at a later time, according to her family members.