Opinion: How the bell got me through a tumultuous year of my life

I remember waiting for the keychains to enter the cafe so I could meet her in person and ask her to sign my book. Growing up in Arkansas, I struggled to find writers whose stories reflected the challenges of being a woman in rural America. I find the attractions – as a woman from rural Kentucky – understandable, her essays and critiques both compelling and scathing.

I graduated from Berea College with a major in English in 2003. Berea hook for hire after I graduated, so I wasn’t in the same class as her, but I saw her beaming often at the cafe. I wanted to ask hooks to write a book and have her autograph a book for me, but it took all my courage to approach her. I was afraid to admit how badly I wanted to be a writer. At the time, I had only sold one article for $20, and I hadn’t felt like a single one yet.
When I think about the hook, Who died Wednesday at 69, I remember how she made Black feminist theory accessible to the different communities she lived in, transforming lives with her energy and holistic language. and her radiance.
She was born in Hopkinsville, Kentucky, in 1952, when the town was still divided. In 2016, hook wrote that when her close friend Gloria Steinem asked her why she was back in Kentucky, she realized: “Though that was not her intention, these words conjure up stereotypical images of Kentucky – the barrel trailer park. tin, the poor white dump, the ruined pickup trucks, the dirty, the illiterate – Black and White – and beyond that there isn’t any progressive face. Those are just images. negative about Kentucky that I have left.”

I deeply respect her decision to return to Kentucky because I have similarly complicated feelings about Arkansas, where I grew up. I have read the biographies of authors I respect obsessively, and many of them reflect the idea that New York and San Francisco – cities I have never visited – are at the heart of the world. world of writing, of intellect and ideas. Like the hooks, I felt like I had to leave behind certain negative images of Arkansas, the stereotypes others recounted to me about the poor, uneducated mountain people.

I really want to be a writer, but I don’t know how to make money from writing. Instead, I made latte while living in a chalet with a house in the woods. I grew up in the countryside of the Ozark Mountains with a boarding house, and I thought living in such conditions would allow me to save money. And I hope that by saving money, I will be able to have space to write. I believe, as hooks wrote in “Communion”: “…the truth is that finding ourselves brings more excitement and happiness than anything romantic brings, and somewhere we are. know that.”

From my earliest memories, I knew I wanted to be a writer, and my love of writing excites me more than any romantic relationship. Happily, with her focus on making feminist intellectual and theoretical works accessible, I found a companion. Hooks make me feel less alone and alien in a world that often celebrates women for milestones associated with traditional romance like marriage and children. In “Bone Black: Memories of Girlhood,” she writes, “This is my home. This bone-black inner cave where I am creating a world of my own.” As she did with me, she showed so many ways to create a feminist life, a writing life, outside of stereotypical stories for women.

Berea College is one of the eight federally accredited working colleges in the US, which means the school accepts low-income students and students work on campus in exchange for tuition. I am grateful to have graduated from Berea University without debt, a rarity among my friends, many of whom are already tens of thousands of dollars in debt. While in Berea, hooks – Distinguished Professor of Appalachian Research Residency – opened bell hook center, an integration space for students with a low history level. In 2017, she spent her papers into the university, ensuring that prospective students will have access to her work.

The first time I met the bell hooks at the coffee shop, I was amazed by how small she was and her cheerful energy, making everyone turn to her as if she were the face of the world. heaven and they are sunflowers. It took me a few weeks to build up the confidence to approach her. One morning, when she ordered coffee, I pulled “Communion: The Search for Female Love” from below the register. She wrote, “Love connects us…” in her dedication, and she told me to keep writing. Her words helped me get through that tumultuous year, and I have continued to write. I haven’t stopped yet.

I returned to Berea College in 2015, the year I published my first book, to see stories about bells while chatting with Gloria Steinem. I took with me her hooks, her words and her life, with me then, as now – and always will be.


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