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Bell Hooks Quotes

Bell Hooks Quotes

Bell Hooks (born Gloria Jean Watkins) is an American author, feminist, and social activist. She was born on September 25, 1952, in Hopkinsville, Kentucky. hooks grew up in a working-class family and was educated in racially segregated schools before attending Stanford University, where she received a bachelor’s degree in English in 1973. She later earned a master’s degree in English from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a doctorate in literature from the University of California, Santa Cruz.

Throughout her career, hooks has been an outspoken critic of systemic oppression and inequality, particularly with regard to race, gender, and class. She has written extensively on these topics in both academic and popular publications, including her influential book “Ain’t I a Woman: Black Women and Feminism” (1981), which challenged the idea that the feminist movement was solely focused on the concerns of white, middle-class women.

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Hooks has authored over 30 books, including “Teaching to Transgress: Education as the Practice of Freedom” (1994), “Feminism is for Everybody: Passionate Politics” (2000), and “All About Love: New Visions” (2000). Her work has been widely recognized and has received numerous awards, including the American Book Award, the PEN Oakland Award, and the Gloria Steinem Award for Media Excellence.

In addition to her writing, hooks has also been active in various social justice movements. She has spoken out on issues such as police brutality, environmental justice, and immigration reform. She has also been involved in efforts to promote diversity and inclusion in higher education, serving as a professor at a number of universities, including Yale, Oberlin College, and the City University of New York.

Overall, bell hooks’ work has had a significant impact on feminist theory and activism, as well as on broader discussions of social justice and equality. She continues to be a prominent voice in these conversations today.

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Bell Hooks unearths profound insights on race, gender, and sexuality. Here are some thought-provoking quotes that shed light on these critical aspects of our existence.

Famous Bell Hooks Quotes

1. “When we choose to love, we choose to move against fear, against alienation and separation. The choice to love is a choice to connect, to find ourselves in the other.”

2. “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. This is education as the practice of freedom.”

3. “Sometimes people try to destroy you, precisely because they recognize your power – not because they don’t see it, but because they see it and they don’t want it to exist.”

4. “What we do is more important than what we say or what we say we believe.”

What we do is more important than what we say or what we say we believe. - Bell Hook

5. “I entered the classroom with the conviction that it was crucial for me and every other student to be an active participant, not a passive consumer…education as the practice of freedom…. education that connects the will to know with the will to become. Learning is a place where paradise can be created.”

6. “The moment we choose to love we begin to move against domination, against oppression. The moment we choose to love we begin to move towards freedom, to act in ways that liberate ourselves and others.”

7. “To be truly visionary we have to root our imagination in our concrete reality while simultaneously imagining possibilities beyond that reality.”

8. “Dominator culture has tried to keep us all afraid, to make us choose safety instead of risk, sameness instead of diversity. Moving through that fear, finding out what connects us, reveling in our differences; this is the process that brings us closer, that gives us a world of shared values, of meaningful community.”

9. “Shaming is one of the deepest tools of imperialist, white supremacist, capitalist patriarchy because shame produces trauma and trauma often produces paralysis.”

10. “What we cannot imagine cannot come into being.”

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11. “[O]ne of the most vital ways we sustain ourselves is by building communities of resistance, places where we know we are not alone.”

12. “I celebrate teaching that enables transgressions – a movement against and beyond boundaries. It is that movement which makes education the practice of freedom.”

13. “My hope emerges from those places of struggle where I witness individuals positively transforming their lives and the world around them. Educating is a vocation rooted in hopefulness. As teachers we believe that learning is possible, that nothing can keep an open mind from seeking after knowledge and finding a way to know.”

14. “The rage of the oppressed is never the same as the rage of the privileged.”

15. “The practice of love is the most powerful antidote to the politics of domination.”

16. “The first act of violence that patriarchy demands of males is not violence toward women. Instead patriarchy demands of all males that they engage in acts of psychic self-mutilation, that they kill off the emotional parts of themselves. If an individual is not successful in emotionally crippling himself, he can count on patriarchal men to enact rituals of power that will assault his self-esteem.”

17. “All of us in the academy and in the culture as a whole are called to renew our minds if we are to transform educational institutions-and society-so that the way we live, teach, and work can reflect our joy in cultural diversity, our passion for justice, and our love of freedom.”

18. “True resistance begins with people confronting pain… and wanting to do something to change it.”

19. “As long as women are using class or race power to dominate other women, feminist sisterhood cannot be fully realized.”

20. “If we want a beloved community, we must stand for justice.”

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21. “To build community requires vigilant awareness of the work we must continually do to undermine all the socialization that leads us to behave in ways that perpetuate domination.”

22. “For me, forgiveness and compassion are always linked: how do we hold people accountable for wrongdoing and yet at the same time remain in touch with their humanity enough to believe in their capacity to be transformed?”

23. “Hope is essential to any political struggle for radical change when the overall social climate promotes disillusionment and despair.”

24. “Because we have learned to believe negativity is more realistic, it appears more real than any positive voice.”

Because we have learned to believe negativity is more realistic, it appears more real than any positive voice. - Bell Hook

25. “The wounded child inside many females is a girl who was taught from early childhood on that she must become something other than herself, deny her true feelings, in order to attract and please others.”

26. “The intellectual tradition of the West is very individualistic. It’s not community-based. The intellectual is often thought of as a person who is alone and cut off from the world. So I have had to practice being willing to leave the space of my study to be in community, to work in community, and to be changed by community.”

27. “In an ideal world, we would all learn in childhood to love ourselves. We would grow, being secure in our worth and value, spreading love wherever we went, letting our light shine. If we did not learn self-love in our youth, there is still hope. The light of love is always in us, no matter how cold the flame. It is always present, waiting for the spark to ignite, waiting for the heart to awaken and call us back to the first memory of being the life force inside a dark place waiting to be born – waiting to see the light.”

28. “I want there to be a place in the world where people can engage in one another’s differences in a way that is redemptive, full of hope and possibility. Not this “In order to love you, I must make you something else”. That’s what domination is all about, that in order to be close to you, I must possess you, remake and recast you.”

29. “You are not going to destroy this imperialist white supremacist capitalist patriarchy by creating your own version of it.”

30. “Love is a combination of care, commitment, knowledge, responsibility, respect and trust.”

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31. “Patriarchy, like any system of domination (for example, racism), relies on socializing everyone to believe that in all human relations there is an inferior and a superior party, one person is strong, the other weak, and that it is therefore natural for the powerful to rule over the powerless. To those who support patriarchal thinking, maintaining power and control is acceptable by whatever means.”

32. “To begin by always thinking of love as an action rather than a feeling is one way in which anyone using the word in this manner automatically assumes accountability and responsibility.”

33. “The true teacher is within us. A good teacher is someone who can help you to go back and touch the true teacher within because you already have the insight within you.”

34. “The moment we choose to love we begin to move towards freedom.”

35. “If I were really asked to define myself, I wouldn’t start with race; I wouldn’t start with blackness; I wouldn’t start with gender; I wouldn’t start with feminism. I would start with stripping down to what fundamentally informs my life, which is that I’m a seeker on the path. I think of feminism, and I think of anti-racist struggles as part of it. But where I stand spiritually is, steadfastly, on a path about love.”

36. “Knowing how to be solitary is central to the art of loving. When we can be alone, we can be with others without using them as a means of escape.”

37. “It is important and vital is to keep that education for critical consciousness around intersectionalities, so that people are able to not focus on one thing and blame one group, but be able to look holistically at the way intersectionality informs all of us: whiteness, gender, sexual preferences, etc. Only then can we have a realistic handle on the political and cultural world we live within.”

38. “Do not expect to receive the love from someone else you do not give yourself.”

39. “If we want a beloved community, we must stand for justice, have recognition for difference without attaching difference to privilege.”

40. “Feminist politics aims to end domination, to free us to be who we are – to live lives where we love justice, where we can live in peace. Feminism is for everybody.”

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41. “One of the things that we must do as teachers is twirl around and around, and find out what works with the situation that we’re in. Our models might not work. And that twirling, changing, is part of the empowerment.”

42. “Self-love is the foundation of our loving practice. Without it our other efforts to love fail. Giving ourselves love we provide our inner being with the opportunity to have the unconditional love we may have always longed to receive from someone else.”

43. “Living simply makes loving simple.”

Living simply makes loving simple. - Bell Hook

44. “Of all the definitions of love that abound in our universe, a special favorite of mine is… “the will to extend one’s self for the purpose of nurturing one’s own or another’s spiritual growth.””

45. “How different things might be if, rather than saying “I think I’m in love,” we were saying “I’ve connected with someone in a way that makes me think I’m on the way to knowing love.” Or if instead of saying “I am in love” we say “I am loving” or “I will love.” Our patterns around romantic love are unlikely to change if we do not change our language.”

46. “Without justice there can be no love.”

47. “Our freedom is sweet. It will be sweeter when we are all free.”

48. “I think our culture doesn’t recognize passion because real passion has the power to disrupt boundaries.”

49. “A generous heart is always open, always ready to receive our going and coming. In the midst of such love we need never fear abandonment. This is the most precious gift true love offers – the experience of knowing we always belong.”

50. “Commitment to truth telling lays the groundwork for the openness and honesty that is the heartbeat of love.”

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51. “Genuine love is rarely an emotional space where needs are instantly gratified. To know love we have to invest time and commitment…’dreaming that love will save us, solve all our problems or provide a steady state of bliss or security only keeps us stuck in wishful fantasy, undermining the real power of the love — which is to transform us.’ Many people want love to function like a drug, giving them an immediate and sustained high. They want to do nothing, just passively receive the good feeling.”

52. “..Critically intervene in a way that challenges and changes.”

53. “Most of us did not learn when we were young that our capacity to be self-loving would be shaped by the work we do and whether that work enhances our well-being.”

54. “We have to constantly critique imperialist white supremacist patriarchal culture because it is normalized by mass media and rendered unproblematic.”

55. “I will not have my life narrowed down. I will not bow down to somebody else’s whim or to someone else’s ignorance.”

56. “When we drop fear, we can draw nearer to people, we can draw nearer to the earth, we can draw nearer to all the heavenly creatures that surround us.”

57. “All too often women believe it is a sign of commitment, an expression of love, to endure unkindness or cruelty, to forgive and forget. In actuality, when we love rightly we know that the healthy, loving response to cruelty and abuse is putting ourselves out of harm’s way.”

58. “Love is an action, never simply a feeling.”

59. “In 2014, when Hillary Clinton was not yet running for president, I stated that I was not in agreement with her politics. More recently, when asked my thoughts about Hillary Clinton during a public conversation with Gloria Steinem, I stated, “she embodies the very best of imperialist white supremacist capitalist patriarchy, but that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t vote for her.””

60. “…“white supremacy” is a much more useful term for understanding the complicity of people of color in upholding and maintaining racial hierarchies that do not involve force (i.e slavery, apartheid) than the term “internalized racism”- a term most often used to suggest that black people have absorbed negative feelings and attitudes about blackness. The term “white supremacy” enables us to recognize not only that black people are socialized to embody the values and attitudes of white supremacy, but we can exercise “white supremacist control” over other black people.”

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61. “No other group in America has so had their identity socialized out of existence as have black women… When black people are talked about the focus tends to be on black men; and when women are talked about the focus tends to be on white women.”

62. “When men and women punish each other for truth-telling, we reinforce the notion that lies are better.”

63. “To truly love we must learn to mix various ingredients – care, affection, recognition, respect, commitment, and trust, as well as honest and open communication.”

64. “Loving friendships provide us with a space to experience the joy of community in a relationship where we learn to process all our issues, to cope with differences and conflict while staying connected.”

65. “Honesty and openness is always the foundation of insightful dialogue.”

Honesty and openness is always the foundation of insightful dialogue. -Bell Hook

66. “Love is a combination of care, commitment, knowledge, responsibility, respect, and trust.”

67. “Genuine love is rarely an emotional space where needs are instantly gratified. To know love we have to invest time and commitment…’dreaming that love will save us, solve all our problems or provide a steady state of bliss or security only keeps us stuck in wishful fantasy, undermining the real power of the love—which is to transform us.’ Many people want love to function like a drug, giving them an immediate and sustained high. They want to do nothing, just passively receive the good feeling.”

68. “Women are often belittled for trying to resurrect these men and bring them back to life and to love. They are in a world that would be even more alienated and violent if caring women did not do the work of teaching men who have lost touch with themselves how to love again. This labor of love is futile only when the men in question refuse to awaken, refuse growth. At this point, it is a gesture of self-love for women to break their commitment and move on.”

69. “Imagine how much easier it would be for us to learn how to love if we began with a shared definition.”

70. “The practice of love offers no place of safety. We risk loss, hurt, pain. We risk being acted upon by forces outside our control.”

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71. “A generous heart is always open, always ready to receive our going and coming. In the midst of such love, we need never fear abandonment. This is the most precious gift true love offers – the experience of knowing we always belong.”

72. “Young people are cynical about love. Ultimately, cynicism is the great mask of the disappointed and betrayed heart.”

73. “The light of love is always in us, no matter how cold the flame. It is always present, waiting for the spark to ignite, waiting for the heart to awaken and call us back to the first memory of being the life force inside a dark place waiting to be born – waiting to see the light.”

74. “If only one party in the relationship is working to create love, to create the space of emotional connection, the dominator model remains in place and the relationship just becomes a site for continuous power struggle.” — bell hooks

75. “How different things might be if, rather than saying, “I think I’m in love,” we were saying “I’ve connected with someone in a way that makes me think I’m on the way to knowing love.” Or if instead of saying “I am in love,” we say “I am loving” or “I will love.” Our patterns around romantic love are unlikely to change if we do not change our language.”

76. “Radical militant feminist believes that women of color and Black women, in particular, have written the cutting edge theory and really were the individuals who exploded feminist theory into the directions that has made it more powerful. So I see us as the leaders not just of Black people and Black women in terms of feminism but in terms of the movement as a whole.”

77. “Feminism as a theoretical enterprise is approached differently by Black women depending on where we are. There are more reformist Black women who tend to use the phrase ‘Black feminism.’” — bell hooks

78. “Power feminism is just another scam in which women get to play patriarchs and pretend that the power we seek and gain liberates us.” — bell hooks

79. “Individual heterosexual women came to the movement from relationships where men were cruel, unkind, violent, unfaithful. Many of these men were radical thinkers who participated in movements for social justice, speaking out on behalf of the workers, the poor, speaking out on behalf of racial justice. However, when it came to the issue of the gender they were as sexist as their conservative cohorts.”

80. “The process begins with the individual woman’s acceptance that American women, without exception, are socialized to be racist, classist and sexist, in varying degrees, and that labeling ourselves feminists does not change the fact that we must consciously work to rid ourselves of the legacy of negative socialization.”

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81. “I still think it’s important for people to have a sharp, ongoing critique of marriage in patriarchal society — because once you marry within a society that remains patriarchal, no matter how alternative you want to be within your unit, there is still a culture outside you that will impose many, many values on you whether you want them to or not.”

82. “Feminism is for everybody.”

Feminism is for everybody. - Bell Hook

83. “Feminism is a movement to end sexism, sexist exploitation, and oppression.”

84. “Feminist effort to end patriarchal domination should be of primary concern precisely because it insists on the eradication of exploitation and oppression in the family context and in all other intimate relationships. It is that political movement which most radically addresses the person—the personal—citing the need for the transformation of self, of relationships, so that we might be better able to act in a revolutionary manner, challenging and resisting domination, transforming the world outside the self.”

85. “We live in a world with serious class complexes. It is one thing to be a college student with loan debts and another thing to be just dirt poor for your entire life. The challenge is to come up with more complex understandings of where we are, more global awareness of what connects Americans with what is happening with suffering and oppressed people all around the world.”

86. “Hip-Hop is diverse. But the white, capitalist producers and distributors of Hip-Hop are most interested in the Hip-Hip that is misogynist, that is Black-hating, that is pugilistic, that is to say all about fighting and war and killing and gangsterism.”

87. “If Black women stand strong and our commitment is to ending domination I know that I’m supporting Black males, Black children male and female Black elderly because the bottom line is the struggle to end domination in all its forms.”

88. “Whether we’re talking about race or gender or class, popular culture is where the pedagogy is, it’s where the learning is.”

89. “It’s really important to have life strategies and part of that is sort of knowing where you want to go so you can have a map that helps you to get there. And the traditional way tells us oh we get into school and someone else advises us, helps us, but that often does not work for African Americans female and male. Because what works for the dominant culture often does not work for us.”

90. “Sexism has never rendered women powerless. It has either suppressed their strength or exploited it.”

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91. “Often in my lectures when I use the phrase “imperialist white-supremacist capitalist patriarchy” to describe our nation’s political system, audiences laugh. No one has ever explained why accurately naming this system is funny. The laughter is itself a weapon of patriarchal terrorism.”

92. “It’s in the act of having to do things that you don’t want to that you learn something about moving past the self. Past the ego.”

93. “One of the most subversive institutions in the United States is the public library.”

94. “Sadly, children’s passion for thinking often ends when they encounter a world that seeks to educate them for conformity and obedience only.”

95. “Many spiritual teachers – in Buddhism, in Islam – have talked about first-hand experience of the world as an important part of the path to wisdom, to enlightenment.”

96. “The most basic activism we can have in our lives is to live consciously in a nation living in fantasies. Living consciously is living with a core of healthy self-esteem. You will face reality, you will not delude yourself.”

97.“If any female feels she need anything beyond herself to legitimate and validate her existence, she is already giving away her power to be self-defining, her agency.”

98. “In an ideal world, we would all learn in childhood to love ourselves. We would grow, being secure in our worth and value, spreading love wherever we went, letting our light shine. If we did not learn self-love in our youth, there is still hope.”

99. “Any woman who wishes to be an intellectual, to write non-fiction, to deal with theory, faces a lot of discrimination coming her way and perhaps even self-doubt because there aren’t that many who’ve gone before you. And I think that the most powerful tool we can have is to be clear about our intent. To know what it is we want to do rather than going into institutions thinking that the institution is going to frame for us.”

100. “I think stress is anything going on in our lives that impinges on our capacity to have optimum well being.”

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