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[personal profile] malafrena
So I picked up bell hooks' Teaching Community at the library. bell hooks is the most helpful feminist author for the issues I'm thinking about these days and will ultimately be writing about. I took feminist theory classes in college during the height of postmodernism - which means obfuscated thinking. There was so much focus on reinventing language that the underlying truths were hard to find. I was so frustrated personally, both because I didn't understand everything I read and because I was working as a technical writer and could see how the gobbledygook could be stated more clearly. But the books I'm reading now by bell hooks are so clearly and directly stated that they give ready access to important ideas.

I can't read the whole book. I simply don't have time. (Especially since I am tempted to make a post every time I crack open anything she wrote.) So I opened it to a chapter that immediately interested me: "What Happens When White People Change." I wish I could say my thoughts here, but I simply don't have time. Instead, I'll point to a few paragraphs that made me think:

"Racial integration ushered in a world where many black folks played by the rules only to face the reality that white racism was not changing, that white supremacy remained intact even as it allowed black folks greater access. To many black people who had dreamed the dream, who had believed that racism could be changed by law and interaction, this was cause for despair."

I knew about the ways racial integration did and did not live up to its promises, but I haven't seen this point of view before. It's important for an understanding of where racism is now.

"Rather than focusing on the individual heroic struggles of white folks who committed themselves to anti-racist justice, many black folks dismissed their effort as though it could have no transformative meaning given the collective world of white racism."

I have noticed that many white people tend to believe in racism as a sort of "original sin," one that we can't eradicate.  And I would also like to point out that sometimes people in the feminist movement (men and women too) discount the efforts of men to be feminist.

"All people of color who suffer racial exploitation and oppression know that white supremacy will not end until racist white people change. Anyone who denies that this change can happen, that one can move from being racist to being actively anti-racist is acting in collusion with the existing forces of racial domination."

Okay, now to the happy part. This is what I find most helpful about bell hooks: she does bear a message of hope and give constructive ideas for change:

"All white people who choose to be anti-racist proclaim this truth. Challenging racism, white supremacy, they are transformed. Free of the will to dominate on the basis of race, they can bond with people of color in beloved community living the truth of our essential humanness."

Thank you, bell hooks.
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