Do you feel alone, underappreciated or even oppressed by others oaround you urging you to ‘change’ to be someone other than you authentic self? Why/ how does this notion of radical belief structures, such as patriarchy, fit into Jesus’ concept of discipleship and solidarity? In a world where even faith is segregated into a white woman’s Christ and a black woman’s Jesus, how does someone like myself of mixed ancestry, find an identity in a world that is often viewed as black or white, but not in varying shades of gray? In the Bible it states “Lying lips are abomination to the LORD: but they that deal truly are his delight” Proverbs (12:22). In the following paper I will critically assess the life and efforts of bell hooks as a holy woman. My intent is to discern relevant links to faith seeking understanding through both lived and shared experience.
We begin with Gloria Jean Watkins being born on September 25, 1952 in Hopkinsville, Kentucky (hooks, 2009). She grew up in a middle class family with five sisters and a brother. Her father, Veodis Watkins, worked as a custodian who told her she was “too strong willed for any man to want to marry” (hooks, 2009). She grew up watching her mother, Rosa Bell Watkins being abused as a homemaker. In her childhood, she was also, an avid reader and pursuer of knowledge with a passion for Dickens.
Her early childhood education took place in southern segregated government funded schools, and she wrote of her struggles while making the transition to an integrated school, where teachers and students were predominantly white (hooks, 2009). After graduating from high school in Hopkinsville, Kentucky, hooks earned her B.A. in English at Stanford University in 1973. She received her M.A. in English from the University of Wisconsin–Madison in 1976. In 1983, after several years of teaching and writing, she completed her doctorate in the literature department from the University of California, Santa Cruz.
She began her teaching at the University of Southern California (USC), as an English professor and senior lecturer in Ethnic Studies, in 1976(hooks, 2009). During her three years there, she published her first work, a book of poems titled "And There We Wept" (1978). This was published under her pen name, "bell hooks". She chose to adopt her grandmother's name as her pen name to honor her grandmother "was known for her snappy and bold tongue, which [she] greatly admired." She put the name in lowercase letters "to distinguish [herself] from her grandmother." Her name's unconventional lowercasing signifies both the "substance of books, not who I am," and her nonconformist attitude. She taught at several post-secondary institutions in the early 1980s, including the University of California, Santa Cruz, San Francisco State University and Yale. South End Press (Boston) published her first major work, Ain’t I a Woman?: Black Women and Feminism in 1981. This publication...