Read Talking Back: Thinking Feminist, Thinking Black by bell hooks Online


bell hooks writes about the meaning of feminist consciousness in daily life and about self-recovery, about overcoming white and male supremacy, and about intimate relationships, exploring the point where the public and private meet....

Title : Talking Back: Thinking Feminist, Thinking Black
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ISBN : 9780896083523
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 186 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Talking Back: Thinking Feminist, Thinking Black Reviews

  • Zanna
    2019-04-08 16:36

    This is the earliest of bell hooks' books that I've read, and the first time I've read about her family and educational background in so much detail. At the start of the book, she discusses how talking about these topics has been difficult for her because they are not permissible topics in her milieu, for instance, black people and other people of colour have protected themselves from aspects of white supremacy by keeping quiet (also, she talks about ridiculing the thoughtless, annoying, self-obsessed way white people often talk about themselves, a ridicule that can discourage people from talking about any personal stuff at all). This is one of the many ways she addresses in this book the modes of silencing that operate against black women and other marginalised people. The title reflects her determination to refuse to be silenced, to speak against regulations and expectations. She quotes from Audre Lorde's poem 'Litany for Survival':and when we speak we are afraidour words will not be heardnor welcomedbut when we are silentwe are still afraidSo it is better to speakrememberingwe were never meant to surviveShe also explains her choice of pseudonym – bell hooks was a female relative remembered as someone who spoke boldly, out of turn. A longer essay towards the end of the book elaborates on this and how useful she found the pseudonym to take to focus away from herself and to what she had to say. This relates to her critique of the feminist saw 'the personal is political', which she appreciates but flags as dangerous, arguing that while politics may begin with the personal, if we stop there, if we don't move beyond the personal into community and solidarity, then the world doesn't change.Another key theme here is race, sex and class in the education system, particularly in graduate school. Mostly, she is discussing structural oppression, but discrimination in her own experience was often quite overt; she shares that at least one of her teachers told her openly that he would fail her regardless of the quality of her work, and that she and other students were constantly discouraged from focussing on the work of black women. She draws on her experience as a teacher to think through issues that are still highly relevant, such as whether a white person should write about black people or other people of colour. On this question, she suggests that what is problematic is the white person being seen as an authority on the topic, something that is likely to happen regardless of their intentions. Writing about a group of people you don't belong to, who are more marginalised than you, could be a very misguided attempt to be an ally:In a conversation with a Chicano historian about white scholars writing about Chicano history, he mentioned a conference where a famous white male spoke of the necessity of white people writing on Chicanos so as to give the subject scholarly legitimacy, to ensure that such work would receive proper attention, consideration, and scholarly respectStill, this nuanced essay isn't condemnatory of all such writing, and she critiques Joanna Russ' book How to Suppress Women's Writing for the way Russ humbly 'stresses the importance of literature by women of color by saying that as a white woman scholar she was not in a position to speak about these works. Towards the end of the book, she listed many quotes from women of color ostensibly encouraging readers to read these writers, to see their words as important. Yet this gesture disturbed me because it also implied that women of color represent this group whose experiences and whose writing is so removed from that of white women that they cannot address such work critically and analytically. This assumption may very well reinforce racism. It helps take the burden of accountability away from white women and places it solely onto women of color.'in essays such as 'towards a revolutionary feminist pedagogy' (the titles generally make you want to jump up and shout YEAH) she critiques traditional college teaching practices which place the teacher in an authoritarian role. She is especially disappointed by white male Marxist professors who use traditional styles, pointing to the hypocrisy of preaching liberatory practice while failing to embody it. Hooks often quotes Paulo Freire and describes aspects of her own teaching practice wherein she attempted to move towards a liberatory pedagogy, making it necessary for each student to contribute. She stresses that this was hard for the students and that they often reacted negatively, and this made it hard for her too; she had to give up her need to be liked by students. However, many students would come to her after courses had finished and share that they had gained so much, and failed to realise it at the time, so the rewards come, just late.Yet another issue raised about Women's Studies courses is the tendency to see white women's work as theoretical while black women's writing could contribute only lived experience; on many courses the only work assigned by black women was The Color Purple, and this would often be the only non-theoretical work. It is a struggle for black women gain recognition as intellectuals or feminist philosophers rather than as experts only on black women's experience.The Color Purple gets a happier mention in discussions of heterosexism = ) I always find hooks' work on pop culture memorable and incisive, and that includes her strong critique of Spike Lee's She's Gotta Have It here.I really enjoyed hooks' discussions of class and education that wove in a lot of autobiographical material. As always, she uses a personal approach to bring such a fine clarity to her work and the effort to make it accessible and avoid 'linguistically convoluted' writing is evident.Discussions of violence in intimate relationships and the shortcomings and white supremacy of much white women's feminist practice begin here and are addressed in more depth in her later work, but the essay on feminism and militarism stuck out to me; she strongly rejects the idea that women are inherently less violent than men and the image of women as natural nurturing pacifists that some anti-militarist activists were using. Non-violence is not a biological impulse!It was also moving to read some of hooks' thoughts on black women's writing as well as other forms of 'coming to voice'. She speaks about her own great difficulty writing her first book Ain't I a Woman while working full time and then how hard it was to get it published. If she hadn't been incredibly determined, this book might never have been written. I shudder to imagine a world without bell hooks...Her wish for feminism to resume existence beyond its problematic location in the academy has at least come true – whether feminists are meeting in small groups to share their thoughts I don't know, but the internet has done more than most folks' wildest dreams in the '80s to create community & connection.

  • Michael Finocchiaro
    2019-03-27 13:47

    bell hooks is one of the best theorists of 20th-21st C feminism and this, one of her early books, is an outstanding analysis of how to oppose sexism and racism. Perhaps a timely re-read for me know during the oppressive era of Drumpfism, I recall it was one of my favourite books of hers along with Ain't I A Woman and Bone Black. Definitely worth your time - her writing is engaging and witty and absolutely, sadly relevant still 27 years later.

  • Shonell Bacon
    2019-03-20 11:41

    It's hard for me to put into words how much I loved this book, but I will have to soon as it's part of my dissertation reading list. One reason I love? I'm a fan of blending the academic with the personal, with writing that aids in elevating the mind but doesn't put up a wall between the words and the reader. Another reason? This book called me to remember my own life, own stories and how being black and female was read, handled, and lived in the many spaces I've traveled in my life. Another reason? It's a call to everyone, not just black women or black people, but all people who want to end sexism, racism, classism, all forms of oppression that binds groups and keeps them from having voices in their stories, in their worlds. It is one of those books that as you read, you can feel your brain shifting, you can feel thoughts being questioned and examined. It makes you become critical--and not in a bad way. We would all do well to not take everything at face value, to look at not only ourselves but also others to make the world and spaces we traverse in betters venues for all people. Much more I could write, but I'll save that for another day.

  • Amy
    2019-04-07 13:37

    As pure coincidence, I began reading this book just a few days before my workplace had a training about Power & Privilege. The trainer had an enlarged bell hooks quote posted at the front of the room. Both the training and this book gave me plenty of ideas to mull over and discuss with friends, including how feminism should include discussions of men, how education can be a force of oppression, and how unchecked white women have and can be harmful to progressing feminist and anti-racist movements. Something we talked about in the training was the four levels of oppression: (intra)personal, interpersonal, institutional, and systemic. Often white people feel comfortable talking about the last two (if they feel comfortable at all) because it allows one to speak on the subject in an abstract and theoretical way, and can take the emphasis off of personal responsibility. In Talking Back, bell hooks touches on all four levels and how they feed off one another, and how we cannot ignore any of them if we ever hope to make radical changes.

  • Patricia
    2019-04-12 13:23

    This is a book of essays by Bell Hooks. I love it when you're feeling a certain way about an issue but you're at a lost for words or can't express your thoughts. Bell Hooks speaks for me in so many ways. I found myself speaking out loud, reading passages to members of my family, adding my own thoughts in the margins on just about every page. I loved it!

  • Strong Extraordinary Dreams
    2019-04-08 16:20

    Is this a representative of modern black thought? There are millions better, better thinkers, better writers.The thinking is weak, disorganized, unconvincing. And I was already convinced.Must try harder.

  • Deidre Valentine
    2019-04-07 09:28

    While reading Talking Back, I was reminded of an assignment that was given to me by one of my high school teachers. The assignment was designed to help the class understand the use of paradigms. bell hooks asserts, "My placement of black women at the center [of Ain't I A Woman] was not an action to exclude others but rather an invitation, a challenge to those who would hear us speak, to shift paradigms rather than appropriate, to have all readers listen to the voice of a black woman speaking a subject and not as underpriviledged other." I am the "us" in which she speaks. My childhood too was that of "old school" methodology, Easter Sunday recitations, and a desire to find "voice" at all cost. I was unfamiliar with bell hooks when I was given that assignment in high school. Having been made familiar with the text, I find the many comparisons to my short paper to be uncanny. Talking Back is a page from my own story and I loved reading an author that found "voice" and uses "voice" in a way that so closely mirrors my finding and usage.

  • Jackie
    2019-04-08 16:38

    I had conflicting feelings about this book. Mainly I appreciated the call to action it constituted, but I spent a lot of time wishing it hit harder. However, if this book were widely read, I feel it would do a great deal of good to foster creative works and thoughtful consciousness across demographic types. If this had been required reading in my freshman year of college or senior year of high school, I feel it would have done much to shatter the bubble of my middle class white perception of the world, as well as to encourage those around me with talents for writing and teaching to devote their skills to useful research and telling untold stories. This book walks a pretty impressive line between personally challenging and intellectually accessible. Recommend highly.

  • Jocelyn
    2019-03-26 09:27

    This might be my favorite out and loud feminist gem of all time. bell hooks ranks at the top for pointing out the reasons why feminist theory has application to our lives, especially if we are educated and have the means to sustain ourselves above a working-class life. If you think you're comfortable, you should reconsider.

  • Lori
    2019-04-10 09:36

    This book is an excellent read, if only for its critical review of Spike Lee's movie SHE'S GOTTA HAVE IT. Before hooks, I'd never read or heard the kind of thoughts I'd long pondered in silence expressed in print or spoken aloud. For me this book was very much an enlightening and liberating experience.

  • Anne
    2019-03-24 11:39

    This is the book that made me a feminist. Or, I should say, the book that *really* made me a feminist, not just someone who said she was one.

  • Arda
    2019-03-27 12:24

    hooks is cool.Notes from this in thesis:Noting that certain women from certain communities adapt, cope, and are regarded as generally tough in dealing with their difficult circumstances, there is much pain which is endured but that gets disregarded, under the assumption that those communities are inherently strong. hooks (1989) notes this about strong black women whose suffering is often overlooked

  • Kadine
    2019-04-11 09:44

    It's taking me forever to finish this book. But that's only because hooks keeps me hooked on her words. I read one sentence and feel seduced. I reread. Most times I stop, think and internalize. I savour. For weeks. I am in no rush.

  • Fleur
    2019-04-05 11:17

    As always, brilliant and insightful. I am always in awe of how intersectional hooks thinking is and how devoted to solidarity her work is.

  • Purple Iris
    2019-04-04 11:35

    Phenomenal. The earlier chapters were a lot more relevant to what I'm currently working on, but such an important book in so many different ways. I am sure I will think of it often as I write and teach.

  • Dominic
    2019-04-01 15:42

    In this early and highly readable text, bell hooks makes a notable shift in voice that came to define her critical stance and critical style as a theorist and teacher. Talking Back was her third and most personal book to date, but this was only the beginning of her evolution. While other theorists saw the personal as having as adverse effect on the quality of the work, bell hooks illustrates just how important theory, postmodernism and other critical concepts to actual lived experience. She speaks to everyday people with the intent to raise consciousness and then move to activism.This was my second time reading Talking Back and a few chapters (2, 3, 8 and 11) are ones I am sure to return to again as they still are alive with meaning and relevance. Spending time with hooks this summer is helping me to recommit myself to radical teaching and engaged, critical pedagogy.

  • Quinn Forrester-Wamsley
    2019-03-29 16:28

    I already find myself thinking about the politics of domination and how the very existence of dominance is anti-feminist, according to bell hooks. I've never really thought about it that way explicitly, but rather on individual terms like between teacher and student, whites and people of color, men and women (and cis gender vs identities along the gender spectrum), etc. It's an overall connecting theme that I find can help connect the feminist fight, as feminism tends to promote the perspectives of white women. With that, the ending also made me think when bell hooks suggest that "feminist" not be an identity, but rather a thought, a way of living, a goal. This point is made because often times those who call themselves "Black feminist" or "Womanist" are often times seen as separate or separate themselves from feminism as a whole. Overall, this was a very thought-provoking read and I hope to keep all of this in mind on a daily basis.

  • Abbie
    2019-03-22 11:44

    This book has been one of the most formative and impactful books for me. Talking Back explores the act of speaking out, claiming voice, and owning identity as a woman of color (and all the complications and obstacles in pursuing that), whether growing up in a family or culture that does not necessarily encourage this, in creative work, in academic settings, in Feminist movements that can often leave out women of color, or in a patriarchal society. It's theoretical, but still deeply personal. It's a compact (182 pages) but sharp and moving book, that was so honest and concrete, it often felt like she was directly speaking to me. It's changed the entire shape of the thesis I'm working on. I strongly recommend this for any woman (or man) of color pursuing a graduate degree, or involved in academia. It was a very validating, challenging, and empowering read.

  • Yossie
    2019-04-06 16:20

    I'm super busy at the moment, so I can't write as much as I'd like to on this book. But you can read my random thoughts as I went along on Twitter, here: want to write something about the importance of Black women writing and telling stories. This is such a brilliant book, and the perfect complementary book to "Ain't I A Woman?"

  • N¥ķķ ¥*Read§ P
    2019-04-09 09:32

    This book was originally a text I read in a Women's Studies course in the 90s. Since then, this book has been a staple addition to papers I have written on power -privilege, gender identity, women's mental health, patriarchy and so much more. bell hooks is an insightful and intelligent writer who informs practices and best outcome for women who experience oppression. Thank you! Nicole

  • Emily
    2019-03-20 13:47

    After reading this in college I barely wrote a single paper that didn't either refer to it directly or inspire me in some way. This book (and the class in which we discussed it) first introduced me to the idea that finding one's voice is an essential part of liberation struggle. hooks is an amazing writer and I greatly respect her desire to make theory accessible.

  • Grace
    2019-04-05 12:38

    Great book, astounding author. Her writing showcases sheer bravery in the face of institutionalized racism. "Talking Back" takes us through her process of fighting against the status quo, and of healing.

  • Debra Taylor
    2019-03-25 09:38

    I just love bell hooks....

  • Doris Raines
    2019-03-23 08:30

    Great. Book. I. Herd. That.

  • Ashley
    2019-04-02 12:18

    Read this book. Read it now.

  • Edmund Walton
    2019-03-31 15:21

    This was a great book. I love every bit of it.