hooks – “Holding My Sister’s Hand: Feminist Solidarity”

hooks, bell. “Holding My Sister’s Hand: Feminist Solidarity.” Teaching to Trangress: Education as the Practice of Freedom. New York: Routlege, 1994. 93-110. Print.

In this essay, hooks examines issues of race and gender within the feminist movement. She is careful to put relations between black and white women in the U.S. within the context of racial oppression under the institution of slavery and beyond where black women were still subservient to white women as domestic servants. hooks maintains that the strained and distrustful relationships between black and white women then continues to have an impact on relations between these groups within feminist movements.

hooks stresses the importance of women of color and white women confronting and addressing racism in feminist settings (109-110). Collective, honest confrontation and dialogue about race and reciprocal interaction and the willingness to deal with racist assumptions, and mutual fears are key factors in establishing positive relationships between the groups (108).

hooks insists that even in the midst of racism in feminist settings, women of color should actively try to find ways to take part in discourse. [How does this mesh with issues of distrust and fears about appropriation 104-105.]

If revitalized feminist movement is to have a transformative impact on women, then creating a context where we can engage in open critical dialogue with one another, where we can debate and discuss without fear of emotional collapse, where we can hear or know one another in the difference and complexities of our experience, is essential (110).

hooks – “Theory as Liberatory Practice”

hooks, bell. “Theory as Liberatory Practice.” Teaching to Trangress: Education as the Practice of Freedom. New York: Routlege, 1994. 59-75. Print.

In this essay, bell hooks challenges the perceived dichotomy between theory and practice or lived experience. hooks attributes the unnecessary disinterest in feminism and feminist theory by women to this dichotomy. According to hooks, feminist theory presented as mysterious and/ or disconnected from real life experiences and concerns beyond the classroom “assaults the fragile psyches of women struggling to throw off patriarchy’s oppressive yoke” (65). This type of theory edifies academic departments, but undermines liberatory movements.

Theorizing must be connected to action, practice, critical reflection, and/ or lived experience:

This is what makes feminist transformation possible. Personal testimony, personal experience, is such fertile ground for the production of liberatory feminist theory because it usually forms the base of our theory (70).