|Born||Gloria Jean Watkins
September 25, 1952
Hopkinsville, Kentucky, USA
|Occupation||Author, social activist|
|Notable work(s)||Ain’t I a Woman?: Black Women and Feminism
All About Love: New Visions
We Real Cool: Black Men and Masculinity
Feminist Theory: From Margin to Center
Gloria Jean Watkins (born September 25, 1952), best known by her penname bell hooks (which deliberately doesn't use any capital letters) is an award-winning African-American radical feminist writer and speaker. She grew up in a working class family in Kentucky where she was born. In 1976 she started teaching. In 1978 her first book was published by Golemics. It was a collection of poems called And There We Wept: Poems. South End Press published Ain't I a Woman? Black Women and Feminism in 1981. It was her first academic book to be published. It took her six years to write and eight years to find a publisher. She wrote the book as an undergraduate student at Stanford University, starting at the age of 19. She started teaching Ethnic Studies in 1976 at the University of Southern California.
In the 1980s, Watkins started a group called Sisters of the Yam for her black female students at Yale University to talk about their problems. In 1993 her book of the same name was published. It is her first book that talks about psychological problems. She has written four children's books illustrated by Chris Raschka (Happy to Be Nappy, Grump Groan Growl, Be Boy Buzz, and Skin Again), one by Shane W Evans (Homemade Love), and one by Laura Freeman (Be Love, Baby Love). The most popular is her first, Happy to Be Nappy.
bell hooks takes her penname from her great-grandmother Bell Blair Hooks. She has said that her penname doesn't use capital letters because the ideas in her writing are more important than the fact that she wrote them. She has been Distinguished Professor of English at City College in New York since 1995. In her writing Watkins is critical of society. She uses the phrase 'white-supremacist-capitalist-patriarchy' to describe how the United States is white supremacist, patriarchal (ruled by men), and capitalistic and how these things are connected to each other. The way that she uses the term 'white supremacist' is different to how it is usually used by people.
She has been in several documentaries about politics. Her book Happy to be Nappy was also made into the award-winning 2004 documentary, Happy to be Nappy and Other Stories of Me. In Give a Damn Again she talks with Cornel West. She also wrote a book with him called Breaking Bread: Insurgent Black Intellectual Life (1991), which is written like a conversation between them.
References[change | change source]
- hooks, bell. "Inspired Eccentricity: Sarah and Gus Oldham." Family: American Writers Remember Their Own. Eds. Sharon Sloan Fiffer and Steve Fiffer. New York: Vintage Books, 1996. 152.