Love, Resistance, & Hope: 25 quotes by bell hooks

All about love by bell hooks

The selection of quotes by bell hooks presented here are arranged by her favored themes of a new vision of love; the intersection of race, patriarchy, feminism, and capitalism, demonstrate how these elements determine lives and the hope that comes with resistance.

When the extraordinarily prolific and brilliant writer bell hooks passed away in December 2021, she left behind a tremendous gift for her countless readers: a legacy of thirty adult non-fiction works that will satisfy every reader of this deep thinker and cultural commentator.

While researching the life of bell hooks, I discovered the wisdom in her work that provides the potential to change every reader’s life and perspective.

 

Love in its many forms

“The wounded heart learns self-love by first overcoming low self-esteem.” (All About Love: New Visions, 1999)

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“All too often women believe it is a sign of commitment, an expression of love, to endure unkindness or cruelty, to forgive and forget. In actuality, when we love rightly we know that the healthy, loving response to cruelty and abuse is putting ourselves out of harm’s way.” (All About Love: New Visions, 1999)

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“But many of us seek community solely to escape the fear of being alone. Knowing how to be solitary is central to the art of loving. When we can be alone, we can be with others without using them as a means of escape.” (All About Love: New Visions, 1999)

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“The word ‘love’ is most often defined as a noun, yet all the more astute theorists of love acknowledge that we would all love better if we used it as a verb.” (All About Love: New Visions, 1999)

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“Time and time again when I talk to individuals about approaching love with will and intentionality, I hear the fear expressed that this will bring an end to romance. This is simply not so. Approaching romanic love from foundation of care, knowledge, and respect actually intensifies romance.” (All About Love: New Visions, 1999)

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“When we understand love as the will to nurture our own and another’s spiritual growth, it becomes clear that we cannot claim to love if we are hurtful and abusive. Love and abuse cannot coexist. Abuse and neglect are, by definition, the opposite of nurturance and care.” (All About Love: New Visions, 1999)

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Reviewing the literature on love I noticed how few writers, male or female, talk about the impact of patriarchy, the way in which male domination of women and children stands in the ways of love.” (All About Love: New Visions, 1999)

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“The one person who will never leave us, whom we will never lose, is ourself. Learning to love our female selves is where our search for love must begin.”  (Communion: The Search for Female Love, 2002)

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“Love is a combination of care, commitment, knowledge, responsibility, respect and trust.” -(Communion: The Female Search for Love, 2002)

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bell hooks, 2009

Learn more about bell hooks
Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
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Intersections of Race, Class, Patriarchy, & Feminism

“The soul of our politics is the commitment to ending domination.” (Feminism is for Everybody: Passionate Politics, 2000)

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“Once upon a time black male ‘cool’ was defined by the ways in which black men confronted hardships of life without allowing their spirits to be ravaged. They took the pain of it and used it alchemically to turn the pain into gold. That burning process required high heat. Black male cool was defined by the ability to withstand the heat and remain centered.” (We Real Cool: Black Men and Masculinity, 2003)

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“…The struggle to end sexist oppression that focuses on destroying the cultural basis for such domination strengthens other liberation struggles. Individuals who fight for the eradication of sexism with struggles to end racism or classism undermine their own efforts. Individuals who fight for the eradication of racism or classism while supporting sexist oppression are helping to maintain the cultural basis of all forms of group oppression.” (Feminist Theory: From Margin to Center, 2014)

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“Any black person who clings to the misguided notion that white people represent the embodiment of all that is evil and black people all that is good remains wedded to the very logic of Western metaphysical dualism that is the heart of racist binary thinking. Such thinking is not liberatory. Like the racist educational ideology it mirrors and imitates, it invites a closing of the mind.” (Rock My Soul: Black People and Self-Esteem, 2003)

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“No black woman writer in this culture can write ‘too much.’ Indeed, no woman writer can write ‘too much’… No woman has ever written enough.” (Remembered Rapture: the Writer at Work, 1999)

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“Why is it so difficult for many white folks to understand that racism is oppressive not because white folks have prejudicial feelings about blacks (they could have such feelings and leave us alone) but because it is a system that promotes domination and subjugation? (Killing Rage: Ending Racism, 1995)

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“All of our silences in the face of racist assault are acts of complicity.” (Killing Rage: Ending Racism, 1995)

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Ain't I a Woman - black women and feminism by bell hooks

bell hooks page on Bookshop.org* and Amazon*
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Hope and Resistance

“The process begins with the individual woman’s acceptance that American women, without exception, are socialized to be racist, classist and sexist, in varying degrees, and that labeling ourselves feminists does not change the fact that we must consciously work to rid ourselves of the legacy of negative socialization.” (Ain’t I a Woman: Black Women and Feminism, 1981)

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“It is obvious that many women have appropriated feminism to serve their own ends, especially those white women who have been at the forefront of the movement; but rather than resigning myself to this appropriation I choose to re-appropriate the term ‘feminism’, to focus on the fact that to be ‘feminist’ in any authentic sense of the term is to want for all people, female and male, liberation from sexist role patterns, domination, and oppression.” (Ain’t I A Woman: Black Women and Feminism, 1981)

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“The moment we choose to love we begin to move against domination, against oppression. The moment we choose to love we begin to move towards freedom, to act in ways that liberate ourselves and others.” (Outlaw Culture: Resisting Representations, 2012)

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“We can’t combat white supremacy unless we can teach people to love justice. You have to love justice more than your allegiance to your race, sexuality and gender. It is about justice.” (Interview with Jet magazine, 2013)

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“The first act of violence that patriarchy demands of males is not violence toward women. Instead patriarchy demands of all males that they engage in acts of psychic self-mutilation, that they kill off the emotional parts of themselves. If an individual is not successful in emotionally crippling himself, he can count of patriarchal men to enact rituals of power that will assault his self-esteem.” (The Will to Change: Men, Masculinity, and Love, 2004)

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“The function of art is to do more than tell it like it is — it’s to imagine what is possible.” (Outlaw Culture: Resisting Representations, 2012)

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“Dominator culture has tried to keep us all afraid, to make us choose safety instead of risk, sameness instead of diversity. Moving through that fear, finding out what connects us, reveling in our differences; this is the process that brings us closer, that gives us a world of shared values, of meaningful community.” (Teaching Community: A Pedagogy of Hope, 2003)

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“To build community requires vigilant awareness of the work we must continually do to undermine all the socialization that leads us to behave in ways that perpetuate domination.” (Teaching Community: A Pedagogy of Hope, 2002)

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Contributed by Nancy Snyder, who writes about women writers and labor women. After working for the City and County of San Francisco for thirty years, she is now learning everything about Henry David Thoreau in Los Angeles.

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