Gloria Jean Watkins, or her famous pen name, bell hooks, is one such person. As an American feminist, author, social activist and African American woman, Hooks has been a party to inequality at its finest. Her pen name comes from her great-grandmother on her mother’s side, Bell Blair Hooks, a woman who was known for always speaking her mind. Drawing inspiration from this strong woman, Hooks works to draw attention to the issues and write from the heart. Hooks draws her inspiration from her life, her experiences, and the hope for a better future.
Hooks’s writing focuses on the intersectionality of race, gender and capitalism. Her focus is to describe how these factors converge to produce and perpetuate systems of oppression and class domination in our world. Her body of work consists of over 30 books and numerous scholarly articles, appearances in documentaries, and participation in public lectures. Hooks was born in Hopkinsville, KY to a working class family and through hard work and determination she was able to found the Bell Hooks Institute in Berea, Kentucky as part of Berea College where she currently teaches.
Her work was directly influenced by a very powerful African American woman, Sojourner Truth, and her speech, Ain’t I a Woman, a speech that directly addressed the issue of discrimination in a time when it was often pushed to the background. Her work, All About Love: New Visions, addresses the patriarchal views that are often pushed upon women through sexist gender roles. Hooks often uses her own personal life and personal experiences to illustrate the ideas and concepts that she is writing about making her work not only relatable but real and raw. Through her works Hooks hopes to bring awareness to the issues of race and gender oppression and bring a new awareness that will help women in the present as well as the future.
Through her postmodernist perspective she has addressed a wide range of issues including race, class, gender in education, sexuality, art, history, mass media, and of course, feminism. Hooks has proven time and again that despite the hurdles and challenges that have been set before her, she is not afraid of the challenge. Hooks continues to teach and work at Berea College as well as her writing and continues to address issues that many find too sensitive to deal with. Hooks works to end the oppression, end the racism, and end the sexism that has become so deeply ingrained in our society. Through her continued dedication and work, Hooks hopes that her example may be the one that makes the ultimate difference in tipping the scales toward true equality.