Wednesday, November 01, 2006


Back on the coffee train.

Sort of, anyway.

Since last week, I've been having half-caf coffee. But, today, the student-run coffee kiosk in my building wasn't brewing decaf, so I had full caf (with plenty of soy creamer).

I've already crashed. And my urine reeks of coffee (too much information? too bad!).


I need for it to be 4:30, but it's only 3:30. Stupid standard time.

On to more important things...

bell hooks
bell hooks spoke on campus today as part of the assembly speakers series. I went, even though most people in my office wouldn't think of taking an hour and a half out of the work day to hear an amazing feminist scholar. People here work so much, they forget to connect to the outside world....which always seems a bit strange to me. Of course, they probably don't blog while at work, either. Hmmmm.

Anyway, bell hooks was great, as expected. Here are some things that I enjoyed, and one thing that I didn't:
  • hooks's point that Women's Studies and Black Studies departments have drifted away from their radical roots. Point being that it's nearly impossible to remain radical and dissident when you rely upon funding from imperialist, patriarchalist, white supremacist sources (e.g., the academy). Not a new point by any means, but always good to hear. Unfortunately, I felt a bit shortchanged when, responding to a question on this point, hooks said that, in order to remain radical and dissident and stay in the academy, we have to work extra hard AND work within mainstream and radical channels. Yeah, that's probably realistic...but I don't like that answer.

  • hooks's point that phrases like "double" or "triple jeopardy" don't adequately describe the oppression and degradation that Black women experience everyday from all sides. Totally. You can't quantify experiences in phrases that suggest mathematic simplicity and certainty.

  • "Black capitalism does not mean Black self-determination." While money can certainly aid things, it does not necessarily equal freedom. We shouldn't confuse consumerism with self-determination.

  • Cultural minstrel shows. hooks brought up books like On the Down Low and some of Nelly's videos as examples of cultural images that use certain social constructs of Black men and women for capitalistic, self-serving purposes. Her point being that such displays do nothing to uplift the general masses of Black people (hooks also focused on DuBois's ideas of uplift during her lecture).

  • Decolonizing ourselves by being mindful of what we consume. One of my favorite parts of the lecture! hooks was talking about seeing some Black sitcoms while at a hotel and being appalled at the content of the shows. This can be applied to anyone...we are what we watch! Be aware of uncritical consumption!

  • Urban poor people don't have access to good grocery stores. I felt like standing up and cheering when hooks made this point...because y'all know I've complained about this so many times. This relates to hooks's current work connecting ecofeminism to consumption patterns in urban Blacks. Her major point is that the diseases that most urban poor people (hooks's mainly focused on Blacks, but I think this point can be extended to the urban poor in general) suffer from have roots in the food choices available in an urban setting. You know, when your grocery store is the corner 7-11, nothing good can come of that.

The End
That's the conclusion of my report.

Oh, also, hooks addressed how some scholars have downplayed or criticized her work on love as unscholarly. To those naysayers, hooks says that practicing love is the most radical and dissident action of all.

So there.


Anonymous said...

oh carebear! speaking the truth! bell hooks is the speaker of truth. she brings it so hard. thanks for writing about seeing her. she is just so brilliant. ah ethical consumption. oh and i think her point about mainstream and radicalism is about the both/and of it all - we exist in the world but have to remain critical of it. to reach for congruence in our values. and love is the most radical. i love that. i don't get why scholars put that down - i think it patriarchial thinking to devalue love.

anyway. i love you! and i love bell hooks! and i love coffee!

Anonymous said...

That last message was from KT in case you couldn't tell, but I think you could! I wish I could have been there. The other day, I was hanging out with a friend and she said she didn't like reading bell hook's books about love, living a love ethic, etc., and I was speechless. Thanks for putting down what hook's said at the speech to her critizers -I wish I had that response in the moment.

getinmymouthstuff said...

I second and third this. It makes me tear up--realizing that love is the most radical and powerful tool we have for change--that it's strong and pure and true and good.