Writer’s Quote Wednesday // Bell Hooks

Hello and happy Wednesday! It’s time for Writer’s Quote Wednesday, a weekly event hosted by Colleen at Silver Threading. Each Wednesday bloggers share their favorite quotes to inspire and motivate each other to keep writing and working toward our goals. My contribution for the week comes from American author, feminist, and social activist, bell hooks.

Gloria Jean Watkins was born on September 25th, 1952 in Hopkinsville, Kentucky. Watkins derived the name “bell hooks” from that of her maternal great-grandmother, Bell Blair Hooks. She grew up in a working-class family with five sisters and one brother. Her father, Veodis Watkins, was a custodian and her mother, Rosa Bell Watkins, was a homemaker. Throughout her childhood, she was an avid reader. Her early education took place in racially segregated public schools, and she wrote of great adversities when making the transition to an integrated school, where teachers and students were predominantly white.

She taught at several post-secondary institutions in the early 1980s, including the University of California, Santa Cruz and San Francisco State University. South End Press (Boston) published her first major work, Ain’t I a Woman?: Black Women and Feminism in 1981, though it was written years earlier, while she was an undergraduate student. In the decades since its publication, Ain’t I a Woman? has gained widespread recognition as an influential contribution to postmodern feminist thought.

Ain’t I a Woman? examines several recurring themes in her later work: the historical impact of sexism and racism on black women, devaluation of black womanhood, media roles and portrayal, the education system, the idea of a white-supremacist-capitalist-patriarchy, the marginalization of black women, and the disregard for issues of race and class within feminism.

Her writing has focused on the interconnectivity of race, class, and gender and their ability to produce and perpetuate systems of oppression and domination. She has published over thirty books and numerous scholarly and mainstream articles, appeared in several documentary films and participated in various public lectures. Primarily through a postmodern female perspective, she has addressed race, class, and gender in education, art, history, sexuality, mass media and feminism.

It is writing that truly rescues, that enable us to reach the shore, to recover.

– bell hooks

Writing rescues me everyday.

In writing I have found a way to express, or distract, myself from intense or overwhelming emotions.

At least once a day something will upset me. Some small irritation will blow up and turn into got rage burning in my chest. Maybe my coworker filled out a form wrong or a friend made fun of something I am sensitive about. Maybe someone at work isn’t doing their part or an ignorant (yet innocent) remark was made within ear shot. Whatever it is, it can cause me to blow up if I am not pulled out of my anger. I know I overreact or read too much into situations so I’ve learned that rather than make a fool of myself or regretting my words I turn to writing first.

Sometimes I get sad. Not by anything in particular, sadness is just a part of who I am. Let’s call it melancholy instead. I think about the inevitability of death and why there is so much suffering in the world. I think about the homeless, the sick, the poor, and the victimized. I think about what makes humans tick. I long to share those thoughts that with other people but these are not thoughts my friends regularly have. So I bottle it up and when it gets to be too much, I turn to writing. With writing I can go on and on uninterrupted about the beautiful tragedy of human existence without judgement.

Sometimes I feel alone. I don’t feel understood, not the way I wish to be understood anyway. Talking to people and explaining myself gets exhausting. I tend to over explain and twist and confuse the subject beyond recognition. I go off and tangents and tell parts of the story that aren’t relevant at all. Even if I manage to what’s going on inside me in a way that is understandable to another human being they don’t get why I feel the way I do, or why this is important. With writing I can say all I need and be listened to. I am not so alone.

Sometimes I feel overjoyed by something and I need to express it right away. I have noticed a funny habit of people to resist sharing your happiness, or laughing at it and making you feel embarrassed. I still share my happiness with my friends and family but it is with writing that I am most comfortable to do so. With writing I can be as enthusiastic as I choose and never fear looking foolish.

My emotions often leave me feeling like I am stranded at sea. I can’t get out and I am getting so exhausted. It’s like I really might drown. Writing brings me to a shore where I can rest and release what threatens to drag me under. I am calm afterward. I can dive back into the ocean of the human condition and swim and splash once more.

And I swear, each time I can swim longer, and father out, than before.


Original image via Unsplash

Biographical information via Goodreads and Wikipedia


6 Replies to “Writer’s Quote Wednesday // Bell Hooks”

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