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bell hooks pushed us to think harder about feminism, Black women and Beyoncé

By Mikki Kendall

16 Dec 2021 · 4 min read

When a powerhouse like bell hooks dies, it is a shock. You know they're human, they tell you that, in word and deed, and yet you expect them to live forever. She was an icon whose legacy will outlast her life; she was also a person who ate, drank, told stories and was - as we all are - sometimes wrong.

For many young feminists, hooks's work was the entry point to theory, shared in a language they could understand without an advanced degree. Her ideas were present in academia, integral to the foundation of the next generation of feminist thought, but they were also approachable. She spoke to those who might never feel welcome in the ivory tower as well as those who carved a place for themselves there. Reading "I will not have my life narrowed down. I will not bow down to somebody else's whim or to someone else's ignorance," in "Ain't I a Woman: Black Women and Feminism," gave me the confidence I needed to assert myself in the academy as a young, newly single mother.

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