Marina Grzinic on Thu, 16 Dec 2021 22:55:30 +0100 (CET)

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<nettime> Pioneering feminist author bell hooks dies aged 69

Pioneering feminist author bell hooks dies aged 69

The Kentucky-based writer penned more than 40 books on subjects including racism, women's rights, culture and love. Gloria Jean Watkins wrote under the pen name bell hooks and has been considered one of the leading Black feminist thinkers in the United States.

The 69-year-old died at home in Berea, Kentucky on Wednesday, surrounded by family and friends, her family said in a statement. Her books, translated into 15 languages, include: Ain't I a Woman?: Black, Women and Feminism; Feminist Theory: From Margin to Center; All About Love: New Visions; We Real Cool: Black Men and Masculinity, and Teaching to Transgress: Education as the Practice of Freedom.

As a child, hooks attended segregated schools in the southern United States. Her writing and academic work often examined the intersections between race, class and gender.

"The family is honored that Gloria received numerous awards, honors and international fame for her work as a poet, author, professor, cultural critic and social activist," her family said in the statement. "We are proud to just call her a sister, friend, confidant and influencer."

Born in Hopkinsville, Kentucky in 1952, hooks was the fourth of seven siblings, her family said. She published her first book of poetry in 1978 and earned a PhD in literature from the University California, Santa Cruz. She reportedly used lower case letters for her pen name, borrowed from her great-grandmother, so readers would focus on the substance of her writing, rather than the author herself.

She moved back to Kentucky in 2004 to teach at Berea College after living in other parts of the US. 

"I owe bell hooks more than I could ever give ... She awakened worlds in me I did not know existed," the US-based journalist Char Adams wrote on Twitter. Her writing and scholarship "broke ground on so many levels" and remains "radical", "relevant" and "necessary", Adams added.

Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, a professor of African American studies at Princeton University, called hooks' death "devastating".

"Black women can never rest and so we die early," Taylor wrote on Twitter.

UN Women, the United Nations entity for gender equality, thanked hooks for her legacy and "for teaching us that feminism is for everybody".

Cornell West, a US professor and cultural critic, said hooks was "an intellectual giant, spiritual genius & freest of persons! We shall never forget her!"

Her family members plan to host an event to celebrate her life at a later date.

Source: Al Jazeera

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