Afrofeminist bell hooks is no longer

Afro-feminist activist writer Bell Hooks died of a long illness on Wednesday at the age of 69.

From her real name Gloria Jean Watkins, bell hooks had chosen this pseudonym, which she wrote without capital letters so as not to emphasize her name, but rather “on the substance of the book”, in reference to her great-great- mother, Bell Blair Hooks.

A native of Hopkinsville, Ky., Bell hooks published his first book of poems, And There We Wept, in 1978. She has since published some forty books, the main themes of which were racism, feminism, debates on gender, love, but also solidarity between women. A teacher, she considered pedagogy as “political work”, mentioned Estelle Ferrarese in an article devoted to her work in the review Feminist research. bell hooks described itself as’ a socialist and ‘revolutionary feminist’, ”Ferrarese writes. “Conceiving on the one hand the university as a place of education in critical awareness, bell hooks calls on, on the other hand, intellectuals to speak ‘in churches and in homes’,” she writes.

Political sorority

Among her major influences, she cited Martin Luther King and James Baldwin. “Martin Luther King was my teacher because he made me understand the importance of the beloved community,” she said in an interview with the Appalachian Review, in 2012.

Ferrarese quotes the most famous text from bell hooks, Sorority: political solidarity between women, published in 1984. “She refuses to base solidarity on a reciprocal sympathy born of shared suffering. Instead of a universal victimhood condition, it is a political commitment that must be its foundation, ”she writes.

The bell hooks family have issued a statement to indicate his passing. “We are honored that Gloria has received numerous awards and achieved international acclaim for her work as a poet, author, feminist, teacher, cultural critic and activist,” she writes.

For Gabriella Garbeau, owner of the Racines bookstore, which aims to “celebrate indigenous and racialized writers”, bell hooks paved the way for other Afro-feminist writers.

Late translations

The owner regrets, however, that several titles of bell hooks are still not translated into French. All About Love is also one of the best sellers of the bookstore, which marks the death of the writer and activist by offering a 15% discount on her books. On the back of this book, we can read that the magazine Utne named bell hooks one of the “100 Visionaries Who Can Change Your Life”. His essays Am I not a woman? and From the Margin to the Center: Feminist Theory were translated very late into French.

For Estelle Ferrarese, “the work of bell hooks therefore has the particularity of being written to a large extent in the past tense; from start to finish, she contemplates a failure, a vanished promise, that of feminist struggles (and, at the same time, that of the black liberation movement) ”.

It will remain for the next generation to deny this observation.

On its Facebook page, the Racine bookstore, located on rue Saint-Hubert in Montreal, announced that it hoped to be able to organize an event in memory of the author.

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