cultures , countries and living conditions .
Born Gloria Jean Watkins in Hopkinsville , Kentucky , she has chosen the lower case pen name bell hooks , based on the names of her mother and grandmother , to emphasize the importance of the substance of her writing as opposed to who she is . She is the author of over thirty books , many of which have focused on issues of social class , race , and gender . Berea College is the home of the writer ’ s papers . hooks ’ intellectual journey took her from her small-town origins to Columbia College in Missouri , Stanford University in California , and to teaching appointments at some of America ’ s finest colleges and universities .
Her influence on modern culture , especially in higher education , began in 1981 with her book , “ Ain ’ t I a Woman : Black Women and Feminism .” The book challenged the dominant feminist narrative of the women ’ s experience written about in numerous feminist works of the 1960s and 70s , which assumed that the experiences of college educated , middle class , white women were the norm .
The experiences of women of color were not seen as central to feminism because the prevailing wisdom was that the oppression of Black women came from racism not sexism .
“ My life experience ,” hooks wrote , “ has shown me that [ racism and sexism ] were inseparable , that at the moment of my birth , two factors determined my destiny : my having been born Black and my having been born female .”
For more than 40 years , hooks elaborated on these ideas , expanding the range of groups and causes she defends , while keeping clearly in mind the belief that any “ struggle for liberation ” must have “ as its fundamental goal the liberation of all people .”
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Madison Magazine January-February 2021 19