Famous Quotes & Sayings

Bell Hooks Quotes & Sayings

Enjoy the top 100 famous quotes, sayings and quotations by Bell Hooks.

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The fear of being alone, or of being unloved, had caused women of all races to passively accept sexism and sexist oppression. — Bell Hooks

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Her love of words is a private passion - one she would rather not share. In the house of her childhood though everything had to be shared. If she tried to hold anything back, they would search and find the hidden places. Her written words, discovered, read were just the source of more pain and punishment. This was why she loved poetry. They did not always understand it so they left it alone. — Bell Hooks

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Nature as chameleon — Bell Hooks

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Failure to examine the victimization of men keeps us from understanding maleness, from uncovering the space of connection that might lead more men to seek feminist transformation. — Bell Hooks

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From the moment little boys are taught they should not cry or express hurt, feelings of loneliness, or pain, that they must be tough, they are learning how to mask true feelings. In worst-case scenarios they are learning how to not feel anything ever. — Bell Hooks

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As more people have found the courage to break through shame and speak about woundedness in their lives, we are now subjected to a mean-spirited cultural response, where all talk of woundedness is mocked. The belittling of anyone's attempt to name a context within which they were wounded, were made a victim, is a form of shaming. It is psychological terrorism. Shaming breaks our hearts. All individuals who are genuinely seeking well-being within a healing context realize that it is important to that process not to make being a victim a stance of pride or a location from which to simply blame others. We need to speak our shame and our pain courageously in order to recover. Addressing woundedness is not about blaming others; however, it does allow individuals who have been, and are, hurt to insist on accountability and responsibility both from themselves and from those who were the agents of their suffering as well as those who bore witness. Constructive confrontation aids our healing. — Bell Hooks

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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. — Bell Hooks

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My effort and ability to learn was always contextualized within the framework of generational family experience. Certain behaviors, gestures, habits of being were traced back. Attending — Bell Hooks

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Whether we learn how to love ourselves and others will depend on the presence of a loving environment. Self-love cannot flourish in isolation. — Bell Hooks

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Part of the heart of anarchy is, dare to go against the grain of the conventional ways of thinking about our realities. Anarchists have always gone against the grain, and that's been a place of hope. — Bell Hooks

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It is obvious that many women have appropriated feminism to serve their own ends, especially those white women who have been at the forefront of the movement; but rather than resigning myself to this appropriation I choose to re-appropriate the term "feminism," to focus on the fact that to be "feminist" in any authentic sense of the term is to want for all people, female and male, liberation from sexist role patterns, domination, and oppression. — Bell Hooks

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If women want a feminist revolution - ours is a world that is crying out for feminist revolution - then we must assume responsibility for drawing women together in political solidarity. That means we must assume responsibility for eliminating all the forces that divide women. — Bell Hooks

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Sexism has never rendered women powerless. It has either suppressed their strength or exploited it. — Bell Hooks

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Feminism has never emerged from the women who are most victimized by sexist oppression; women who are daily beaten down, mentally, physically, and spiritually - women who are powerless to change their condition in life. They are a silent majority. — Bell Hooks

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When we only name the problem, when we state complaint without a constructive focus or resolution, we take hope away. In this way critique can become merely an expression of profound cynicism, which then works to sustain dominator culture. — Bell Hooks

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Critical interventions around race did not destroy the women's movement; it became stronger . . . It shows us that no matter how misguided feminist thinkers have been in the past, the will to change, the will to create the context for struggle and liberation, remains stronger than the need to hold on to wrong beliefs and assumptions. — Bell Hooks

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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. — Bell Hooks

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There are writers who write for fame. And there are writers who write because we need to make sense of the world we live in; writing is a way to clarify, to interpret, to reinvent. We may want our work to be recognized, but that is not the reason we write. We do not write because we must; we always have a choice. We write because language is the way we keep a hold on life. With words we experience our deepest understandings of what it means to be intimate. We communicate to connect, to know community. — Bell Hooks

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I feel sad that we have allowed these knee-jerk feminists who want to act like it's a struggle against men ... but again that's the least politically developed strand of feminism. — Bell Hooks

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Often, men who would never think of lying in the workplace lie constantly in intimate relationships. This seems to be especially the case for heterosexual men who see women as gullible. — Bell Hooks

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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

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Sadly, at a time when so much sophisticated cultural criticism by hip intellectuals from diverse locations extols a vision of cultural hybridity, border crossing, subjectivity constructed out of plurality, the vast majority of folks in this society still believe in a notion of identity that is rooted in a sense of essential traits and characteristics that are fixed and static. — Bell Hooks

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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. — Bell Hooks

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First and foremost feminist movement urged females to no longer see ourselves and our bodies as the property of men. — Bell Hooks

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No Black woman can become an intellectual without decolonizing her mind. — Bell Hooks

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When we feel deeply drawn to someone, we cathect them; that is, we invest feelings or emotion in them. That process of investment wherein a loved one becomes important to us is called "cathexis". I his book Peck rightly emphasizes that most of us "confuse cathecting with loving." We all know how often individuals of cathecting insist that they love the other person even if they are hurting of neglecting them. Since their feiling is that of cathexis, they insist that what they feel is love.
When we understand love as the will to nurture our own and another's spiritual growth, it becomes clear that we cannot claim to love if we are hurtful and abusive. — Bell Hooks

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In this culture, the phrase 'black woman' is not synonymous with 'tender,' or 'gentle.' It's as if those words couldn't possibly speak to the reality of black females. — Bell Hooks

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Choosing to be honest is the first step in the process of love. There is no practitioner of love who deceives. Once the choice has been made to be honest, then the next step on love's path is communication. — Bell Hooks

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I grew up in the midst of poverty but every black kid that I knew could read and write. We have to talk about the fact that we cannot educate for critical consciousness if we have a group of people who cannot access Fanon, Cabral, or Audre Lorde because they can't read or write. How did Malcolm X radicalize his consciousness? He did it through books. If you deprive working-class and poor black people of access to reading and writing, you are making them that much farther removed from being a class that can engage in revolutionary resistance. — Bell Hooks

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The choice to love is a choice to connect
to find ourselves in the other. — Bell Hooks

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Practically every mental health care practitioner, from the most erudite psychoanalysts to untrained self-help gurus, tell us that it is infinitely more fulfilling and we are all saner if we tell the truth, yet most of us are not rushing to stand up and be counted among the truth tellers. Indeed, as someone committed to being honest in daily life I experience the constant drag of being seen as a 'freak,' for telling the truth, even when I speak truthfully about simple matters. If a friend gives me a gift and asks me to tell him or her whether I like it, I will respond honestly and judiciously; that is to say I will speak the truth in a positive, caring manner. Yet even in this situation, the person who asks for honesty will often express annoyance when given a truthful response. — Bell Hooks

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Until the legacy of remembered and reenacted trauma is taken seriously, black America cannot heal. — Bell Hooks

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In a culture of domination, preoccupation with victimage is inevitable. — Bell Hooks

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A central tenet of modern feminist thought has been the assertion that "all women are oppressed." This assertion implies that women share a common lot, that factors like class, race, religion, sexual preference, etc. do not create a diversity of experience that determines the extent to which sexism will be an oppressive force in the lives of individual women. — Bell Hooks

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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. — Bell Hooks

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To teach in a manner that respects and cares for the souls of our students is essential if we are to provide the necessary conditions where learning can most deeply and intimately begin. — Bell Hooks

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As all advocates of feminist politics know most people do not understand sexism or if they do they think it is not a problem. Masses of people think that feminism is always and only about women seeking to be equal to men. And a huge majority of these folks think feminism is anti-male. Their misunderstanding of feminist politics reflects the reality that most folks learn about feminism from patriarchal mass media. — Bell Hooks

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I think this is what people misunderstand about Martin Luther King saying to love your enemies. They think he was just using this silly little phrase, but what he meant was that as Black Americans we need to let our anger go, because holding on to it we hold ourselves down. We oppress ourselves by holding on to anger. — Bell Hooks

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The outcome of the Clarence Thomas hearings and his subsequent appointment to the Supreme Court shows how misguided, narrow notions of racial solidarity that suppress dissent and critique can lead black folks to support individuals who will not protect their rights. — Bell Hooks

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If consummers want to be entertained, and the images shown us as entertaining are images of violent dehumanization, it makes sense that these acts become more acceptable in our daily lives and that we become less likely to respond to them with moral outrage or concern. Were we all seeing more images of loving human interaction, it would undoubtedly have a positive impact in our lives. — Bell Hooks

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It seems to me that the binary opposition that is so much embedded in Western thought and language makes it nearly impossible to project a complex response. — Bell Hooks

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Maintaining connections with family and community across class boundaries demands more than just summary recall of where one's roots are, where one comes from. It requires knowing, naming, and being ever-mindful of those aspects of one's past that have enabled and do enable one's self-development in the present, that sustain and support, that enrich. One must also honestly confront barriers that do exist, aspects of that past that do diminish. — Bell Hooks

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Students who excel in active listening also contribute much to the formation of community. This is also true of students who may not speak often but when they speak (sometimes only when reading required writing) the significance of what they have to say far exceeds those of other students who may always openly discuss ideas. And of course there are times when an active silence, one that includes pausing to think before one speaks, adds much to classroom dynamics. — Bell Hooks

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Few of us enter romantic relationships able to receive love. We fall into romantic attachments doomed to replay familiar family dramas. Usually we do not know this will happen precisely because we have grown up in a culture that has told us that no matter what we experience in our childhoods, no matter the pain, sorrow, alienation, emptiness, no matter the extent of our dehumanization, romantic love will be ours. We believe we will meet the girl of our dreams. We believe 'someday our prince will come.' They show up just as we imagined they would. We wanted the lover to appear but most of us were not clear about what we wanted to do with them-what the love was that we wanted to make and how we would make it. We were not ready to open our hearts fully. — Bell Hooks

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The overall impact of postmodernism is that many other groups now share with black folks a sense of deep alienation, despair, uncertainty, loss of sense of grounding even if it is not informed by shared circumstance. — Bell Hooks

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Every terrorist regime in the world uses isolation to break people's spirits. — Bell Hooks

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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. — Bell Hooks

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All the myths and stereotypes used to characterize black womanhood have their roots in negative anti-woman mythology. Yet they form the basis of most critical inquiry into the nature of black female experience. Many people have difficulty appreciating black women as we are because of eagerness to impose an identity upon us based on any number of negative stereotypes. Widespread efforts to continue devaluation of black womanhoodmake it extremely difficult and oftentimes impossible for the black female to develop a positive self-concept. For we are daily bombarded by negative images. Indeed, one strong oppressive force has been this negative stereotype and our acceptance of it as a viable role model upon which we can pattern our lives. — Bell Hooks

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A shift in class values occurs in black life when integration comes and with it the idea that money is the primary marker of individual success, not how one acquires money. Adopting that worldview changed the dynamics of work in black communities. Black men who could show they had money (no matter how they acquired it) could be among the powerful. It was this thinking that allowed hustlers in black communities to be seen as just as hardworking as their Wall Street counterparts. — Bell Hooks

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We cannot know love if we remain unable to surrender our attachment to power, if any feeling of vulnerability strikes terror in our hearts. Lovelessness torments. — Bell Hooks

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The notion that black folks have nothing to learn from scholarship that may reflect racial or racist biases is dangerous. It promotes closed-mindedness and a narrow understanding of knowledge to hold that "race" is such an overwhelming concept that it negates the validity of any insights contained in a work that may have some racist or sexist aspects. — Bell Hooks

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... there is not a day of my life that I am not critiquing myself to see if my politics are borne out in the way that I live and the way that I talk and present myself. — Bell Hooks

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Marcus Garvey, Elijah Muhammed, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, Stokely Carmichael, Amiri Baraka and other black male leaders have righteously supported patriarchy. They have all argued that it is absolutely necessary for black men to relegate black women to a subordinate position both in the political sphere and in home life. — Bell Hooks

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Erotic attraction often serves as the catalyst for an intimate connection between two people, but it is not a sign of love. Exciting, pleasurable sex can take place between two people who do not even know each other. Yet the vast majority of males in our society are convinced that their erotic longing indicates who they should, and can, love. Led by their penis, seduced by erotic desire, they often end up in relationships with partners with whom they share no common interests of values. — Bell Hooks

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Like many liberal men in the age of feminism, he believed women should have equal access to jobs and be given equal pay, but when it came to matters of home and heart he still believed caregiving was the female role. Like many men, he wanted a woman to be 'just like his mama' so that he did not have to do the work of growing up. — Bell Hooks

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It is far easier to talk about loss than it is to talk about love. It is easier to articulate the pain of love's absence than to describe its presence and meaning in our lives. — Bell Hooks

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By naming sexism as the problem it went directly to the heart of the matter. Practically, it is a definition which implies that all sexist thinking and action is the problem, whether those who perpetuate it are female or male, child or adult. — Bell Hooks

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When women with class power opportunistically use a feminist platform while undermining feminist politics that helps keep in place a patriarchal system that will ultimately re-subordinate them, they do not just betray feminism; they betray themselves. — Bell Hooks

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The neat binary categories of white and black or male and female are not there when it comes to class. How will they identify the enemy. How will they know who to fear or who the challenge. — Bell Hooks

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Those of us who have already chosen to embrace a love ethic, know that when we let our light shine, we draw to us and are drawn to other bearers of light. We are not alone. — Bell Hooks

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Until we are willing to question many of the specifics of the male sex role, including most of the seven norms and stereotypes that psychologist Robert Levant names in a listing of its chief constituents--'avoiding femininity, restrictive emotionality, seeking achievement and status, self-reliance, aggression, homophobia, and nonrelational attitudes toward sexuality'--we are going to deny men their full humanity. Feminist masculinity would have as its chief constituents integrity, self-love, emotional awareness, assertiveness, and relational skill, including the capacity to be empathic, autonomous, and connected. — Bell Hooks

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Honesty and openness is always the foundation of insightful dialogue. — Bell Hooks

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My idea of a delicious time is to read a book that is wonderful. But the ruling passion of my life is being a seeker after truth and the divine. — Bell Hooks

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True love does have the power to redeem but only if we are ready for redemption. — Bell Hooks

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Love allows us to confront these negative realities in a manner that is life-affirming and life enhancing. — Bell Hooks

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Significantly, in future feminist movement we will spend less time critiquing patriarchal marriage bonds and expend more effort showing alternatives, showing the value of peer relationships which are founded on principles of equality, respect, and the belief that mutual satisfaction and growth are needed for partnerships to be fulfilling and lasting. — Bell Hooks

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To critique sexist images without offering alternatives is an incomplete intervention. Critique in and of itself does not lead to change. — Bell Hooks

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We fail at romantic love when we have not learned the art of loving. It's as simple as that. Often we confuse perfect passion with perfect love. — Bell Hooks

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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. — Bell Hooks

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Time is aboriginal eternal — Bell Hooks

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If we want a beloved community, we must stand for justice, have recognition for difference without attaching difference to privilege. — Bell Hooks

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The confusion boys experience about their identity is heightened during adolescence. In many ways the fact that today's boy often has a wider range of emotional expression in early childhood, but if forced to suppress emotional awareness later on makes adolescence all the more stressful for boys. Tragically, were it not for the extreme violence that has erupted among teenage boys throughout our nation, the emotional life of boys would still be ignored. Although therapists tell us that mass media images of male violence and domination teach boys that violence is alluring and satisfying, when individual boys are violent, especially when they murder randomly, pundits tend to behave as though it were a mystery why boys are so violent. — Bell Hooks

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Living simply makes loving simple. — Bell Hooks

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Any black person who clings to the misguided notion that white people represent the embodiment of all that is evil and black people all that is good remains wedded to the very logic of Western metaphysical dualism that is the heart of racist binary thinking. Such thinking is not liberatory. Like the racist educational ideology it mirrors and imitates, it invites a closing of the mind. — Bell Hooks

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Whether they regard themselves as pro- or antifeminist, most women want men to do more of the emotional work in relationships. And most men, even those who wholeheartedly support gender equality in the workforce, still believe that emotional work is female labor. Most men continue to uphold the sexist decree that emotions have no place in the work world and that emotional labor at home should be done by females. — Bell Hooks

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Feminist education - the feminist classroom - is and should be a place where there is a sense of struggle, where there is visible acknowledgment of the union of theory and practice, where we work together as teachers and students to overcome the estrangement and alienation that have become so much the norm in the contemporary university. — Bell Hooks

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Relationships are treated like Dixie cups. They are the same. They are disposable. If it does not work, drop it, throw it away, get another.
Committed bonds (including marriage) cannot last when this is the prevailing logic. Most of us are unclear about what to do to protect and strengthen caring bonds when our self-centered needs are not being met. — Bell Hooks

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I write these words to bear witness to the primacy of resistance struggle in any situation of domination (even within family life); to the strength and power that emerges from sustained resistance and the profound conviction that these forces can be healing, can protect us from dehumanization and despair. — Bell Hooks

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Naming oppressive realities, in and of itself, has not brought about the kinds of changes for oppressed groups that it can for more privileged groups, who command a different quality of attention. — Bell Hooks

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The ethic of liberal individualism has so deeply permeated the psyches of blacks ... of all classes that we have little support for a political ethic of communalism that promotes the sharing of resources. — Bell Hooks

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Most people have no understanding of the myriad ways feminism has positively changed all our lives. Sharing feminist thought and practice sustains feminist movement. Feminist knowledge is for everybody. — Bell Hooks

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Most feminist groups began with women talking about how we saw ourselves and other women, how we acted. We openly confessed our fears and hatred of other women. We talked about how to combat jealousy, the politics of envy, and so on. — Bell Hooks

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Reviewing the literature on love I noticed how few writers, male or female, talk about the impact of patriarchy, the way in which male domination of women and children stands in the ways of love. — Bell Hooks

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As long as sexist thinking socializes boys to be "killers," whether in imaginary good guy, bad guy fights or as soldiers in imperialism to maintain coercive power over nations, patriarchal violence against women and children will continue. — Bell Hooks

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Love is a combination of care, commitment, knowledge, responsibility, respect and trust. — Bell Hooks

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Another response to racism has been the establishment of unlearning racism workshops, which are often led by white women. These workshops are important, yet they tend to focus primarily on cathartic individual psychological personal prejudice without stressing the need for corresponding change in political commitment and action. A woman who attends an unlearning racism workshop and learns to acknowledge that she is racist is no less a threat than one who does not. Acknowledgment of racism is significant when it leads to transformation. — Bell Hooks

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Our freedom is sweet. It will be sweeter when we are all free. — Bell Hooks

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

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The people I love, I'm committed to loving for the rest of my life. — Bell Hooks

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What has become clear is that education for critical consciousness coupled with anti-racist activism that works to change all our thinking so that we construct identity and community on the basis of openness, shared struggle, and inclusive working together offers us the continued possibility of eradicating racism. — Bell Hooks

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I learned that we may meet a true love and that our lives may be transformed by such an encounter even when it does not lead to sexual pleasure, committed bonding, or even sustained contact. The myth of true love-that fairy-tale vision of two souls who meet, join, and live happily ever thereafter-is the stuff of childhood fantasy. Yet many of us, female and male, carry these fantasies into adulthood and are unable to cope with the reality of what it means to either have an intense life-altering connection that will not lead to an ongoing relationship or to be in a relationship. True love does not always lead to happily ever after, and even when it does sustaining love still takes work. — Bell Hooks

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Why is it that many contemporary male thinkers, especially men of color, repudiate the imperialist legacy of Columbus but affirm dimensions of that legacy by their refusal to repudiate patriarchy? — Bell Hooks

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Individuals who speak languages other than English, who speak patois as well as standard English, find it a necessary aspect of self-affirmation not to feel compelled to chose one voice over another, not to claim one as more authentic but rather to construct social realities that celebrate, acknowledge and affirm differences, variety. — Bell Hooks

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What we cannot imagine cannot come into being. — Bell Hooks

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To indoctrinate boys into the rules of patriarchy, we force them to feel pain and to deny their feelings. — Bell Hooks

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Any society based on domination supports and condones violence. — Bell Hooks

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The word "love" is most often defined as a noun, yet al the more astute theorists of love acknowledge that we would all love better if we used it as a verb. — Bell Hooks

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Black males who refuse categorization are rare, for the price of visibility in the contemporary world of white supremacy is that black identity be defined in relation to the stereotype whether by embodying it or seeking to be other than it ... Negative stereotypes about the nature of black masculinity continue to overdetermine the identities black males are allowed to fashion for themselves. — Bell Hooks

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The practice of love offers no place of safety. We risk loss, hurt, pain. We risk being acted upon by forces outside our control. — Bell Hooks

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See first-hand the ways that democratic education is being undermined as the interests of big business and corporate capitalism encourage students to see education solely as a means to achieve material success. Such thinking makes acquiring information more important than gaining knowledge or learning how to think critically. — Bell Hooks