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Lions Roar : July 2006
SHAMBHALA SUN JULY 2006 53 BELL HOOKS is a woman of many call numbers. If you search for her in the library, you’ll find her lurking all over the place: feminist studies, African-American studies, education, health, film, children’s books, and more. Waiting there to pounce, like a curious cat, she is likely to jump out at you from any of these shelves and strike you with a flurry of provocative ideas—about race, gender, class, domination, and libera- tion, to name a few. But if you do go searching for her in the library, try to find her on videotape or DVD, because while bell hooks articulates beautifully in print, she really shines when you see her face and hear her voice embodying what she thinks and feels and sees. They say she is an “outspoken social critic, a visionary, a public intellectual,” but what comes across most if you spend some time around her is love. She loves to be herself and be by herself—without the need to be defined by others—but she also loves to love others and to communicate: about herself and to herself and to others, but above all with others. She loves dialogue. She’s a great interviewer. And should you ever have the pleasure of speaking with her, beware. She will probably interview you, to find out what’s going on inside and whether you’re ready and willing to talk about it. To bell hooks, an idea is like a basketball. She doesn’t want to hold it up to be admired. She says she wants to “throw it to you and let you experience it for yourself.” Love Fights the Power For bell hooks, fighting oppression doesn’t require anger or conflict—just opening our hearts and speaking the truth fearlessly. BARRY BOYCE tells the story of this renowned feminist and social critic, and how she came to embrace activism without enemies and a visionary kind of love. PHOTOS BY LIZA MATTHEWS