By Claire Heuchan
Gloria Jean Watkins, known internationally as bell hooks, died on December 15th 2021. After a prolonged illness she passed at home, surrounded by friends and family. hooks was born in 1952. She grew up in Hopkinsville, Kentucky – which was segregated at the time of her birth. And these early experiences of anti-Blackness went on to fuel a lifelong commitment to social justice.
hooks was an activist, author, and academic. Her career began in 1976, when she was a Professor in English and Senior Lecturer in Ethnic Studies at the University of Southern California. It was during this time she published her first volume of poetry, and adopted her great-grandmother’s name. hooks made a conscious choice to write her name in lowercase – both to distinguish her from her grandmother, and as a way of encouraging readers to focus on the “substance of books, not who I am.”
A prolific writer, hooks penned some forty books in her lifetime. Her work explored themes of gender, race, capitalism, class, sexuality, and children’s rights – all through the lens of intersectional feminism, which she practiced and theorised before Kimberlé Crenshaw coined the term.
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