bell hooks a cultural critic at feminist a theorist of political activists is recognized as one of America’s leading intellectuals she is a distinguished professor at the City College of New York she takes her name from her great-grandmother and recognition of female legacy and she uses lowercase letter n’ to reflect her wariness about ego and fame her previous books ain’t IA woman and black looks provide new scholarship mixing academic writing with personal testimony killing rage ending racism is her latest book and i’m pleased to have her back here welcome back it’s good to be back last time you were here we were having a conversation and I have a bunch of letters this is true saying why did you allow those men these were african-american men in this case to beat up on bail and I said bell hooks can take care of herself thank you very much absolutely I mean I thought I took care of myself that evening even though I thought they tried to silence me which is interesting wasn’t a silent you but but they wanted to meet you you came down with different sides I think well the interesting thing was that the issue that night was white supremacy and one of the things that they were doing was saying it’s not that important and it’s interesting that shortly after that we had the tragedy in Oklahoma and then after that there was the OJ Simpson case coming to this this forefront of racial tension drawing out the tension that’s been in our culture for such a long time and what do you say about white supremacy today part of what I say is that white supremacy first of all isn’t a white thing it’s part of this culture it’s part of how all of us have been taught to think about difference who’s better who’s inferior who’s superior I prefer white supremacy to racism precisely because it says that we’re all being socialized to think along certain dualistic lines and that the notion of that which is light or white being better that which is dark or black being worse bad inferior is something that everyone in the culture socialized to think the more speaks about some political events and and some recent events first and two things you know I’m going to talk about about three things actually first is the Million Man March would you think well the Million Man March was something that I deeply and profoundly opposed I opposed it because I’m not one of those people who thinks you can separate messages from the messengers I think that while the idea of blackmail solidarity and unity is a fine idea just as I who could not be moved by the images of all of those men but underlying those images is a political ideology is a way of thinking about family I mean just the other night I was giving a lecture at Dartmouth and some young black men were saying but how can it be wrong for black men to oppose welfare and I said well it’s one thing to say that black men should assume responsibility for families and another thing to look realistically at our job and employment situation and to say what would actually happen to many single-parent households that women had if in fact there was not aid to assist women as the in a process of change and transition many of whom are hoping for jobs that don’t exist what ideology back to what you were saying in terms of message and the messenger what ideology or do you believe was being promulgated was it the Nation of Islam was it some other ideology I would say first and foremost it was patriarchy I mean when someone tells me in their mission statement that no nation sends its women to war while the men sit in the kitchen and you know the situation of race in America right now is like war you know and the men are going to Washington that to me is a real gendered dialogue about conventional masculinity which denies a history of race relations where the engagement of black women in resistance struggle has been so meaningful and so crucial would it have been less effective as effective a much more effective if women had been part of it let me go on record as saying Charlie I have no trouble with men want to march by themselves yeah I feel like men could march for days by themselves and I’d sit at home and cook and clean if they were marching for principles and values and politics that would actually aid Black self-determination I happen to think that patriarchy has been deadly for the planet and for black men okay perhaps it has but what said who says that they were marking for patriarchy I mean that’s what not sure but I’m not sure that was the if you talk to all those people that were there which I didn’t but I’ve talked to people who did talk to them and wander through the crowd without television cameras and had lots of conversations and it didn’t seem to be a patriarchy it seemed about to be about responsibility and it seemed to be about some sense of self-esteem and it seemed to be about fathers and sons and fathers and daughters but that sense of responsibility was connected to particular notions about the family not about self responsibility first it was the idea that in fact the old idea that men acquire self-esteem by the degree to which they can be providers and protectors that is what patriarchy says to us and what we know is that a lot of men provide a lot of been protect and they still have difficulties with self-esteem and black women in in your judgment endorsed feminism and and responded to it well in killing rage I try to talk about the fact that it that black women have questioned feminism because of our recognition that race is always a factor so there’s been a calling attention to racism within the women’s movement particularly the racism of privilege class women who were saying you know we’re victimized because of certain issues that black women did not see as an occasion for victimization did it put black women against white women then yes I think reformist based feminist movement very much pitted black women against white women by the fact that the discourses of women of color and black women were left out for example to me the early on a major thesis of feminism was women need to get out into the workforce well masses of black women were already out of the into the workforce and weren’t liberated masses the poor women already and that and that kind of work who is it liberating for so there was a real distinction between those women betty Friedan was describing as sitting at home many of whom were well-educated had been educated in the Ivy League or this and sisters you know and weren’t doing anything and those masses of women who were in factories who were you know cleaning people’s homes who did not see work as central to liberation and who were in fact fantasizing about the days of their lives when they wouldn’t have to work so there’s a chapter in killing rage about black and white female relations where I say until our relationships improve until black women and white women understand each other better there will not be an end to racism in this society Oh J Simpson would you think I mean about them not so much obviously I’m fascinated by whether people thought he was dead or not but beyond that are you surprised by the reaction to it I was deeply surprised and troubled by the reaction to it because I feel like I was one of the people who religiously tried not to watch the case precisely because I felt in respect to the fact that this was a case rooted in domestic violence I hear again I don’t think that people can pretend that in fact somehow the domestic violence doesn’t matter this tragedy would not have happened if male violence against women was not so acceptable in our culture because there is a line leading up to the tragedy whether we know who who murdered this woman or not we do know that a whole life that was structured around acceptance of violence was a part of how this couple related to one another and that to me made me feel like once this becomes entertainment once the cameras focused on OJ Simpson people will forget that at the heart of this is both male violence and male violence against women because we’ve not heard anybody speculate that a group of women were outside that house chopping up anybody so clearly we cannot get away from the dilemma of male violence in our culture and male violence against women and I try to hold that as a way of not deflecting attention away from the fact that this was not an issue of race I mean that the case itself was not an issue of race how we interpreted how we witnessed it as a culture it was racialized but the heart of it still for me remains male violence against women and but what would what about those including Johnnie Cochran I guess who would say no no it was about race because it was about race and and it’s because of the attitude of the newer of the LAPD well I think one even before we knew anything about the attitude of the LAPD we know that whenever sexuality is involved and gender in our culture people often prefer to talk about race race is easier for people to it’s easier to racialize something because if we make it a case of gender we have to see a man like OJ Simpson is very empowered by class and by patriarchy if we make it a case of race we can see him as always and only a victim and so of course it was very important for men in general and Cochran in particular himself you know according to his his ex-wife someone who is no stranger to domestic violence to act as though the only issue here is one of racial injustice bell hooks killing rage ending racism this is a collection of essays about a whole range of subject matter having to do with men and women and gender and violence and rage and a lot of other things my friend Cornel West says unlike most black intellectuals she writes with a sense of urgency about the existential and psycho cultural dimensions of african-american life especially those spiritual and intimate issues of love hurt pain envy and desire usually probed by artists her books help us not only to decolonize our mind soul and bodies on a deeper level they touch our lives it is difficult to read a bell hooks essay attacks without enacting some form of self-examination or self inventory which is exactly what she would like for you to do thank you thank you we thank you for joining us see you next time