These are some of the questions of place and belonging that renowned cultural critic bell hooks examines in her new book, Belonging: A Culture of Place. Traversing past and present, Belonging charts a cyclical journey in which hooks moves from place to place, from country to city and back again, only to end where she began--her old Kentucky home.
hooks has written provocatively about race, gender, and class; and in this book she turns her attention to focus on issues of land and land ownership. Reflecting on the fact that 90% of all black people lived in the agrarian South before mass migration to northern cities in the early 1900s, she writes about black farmers, about black folks who have been committed both in the past and in the present to local food production, to being organic, and to finding solace in nature. Naturally, it would be impossible to contemplate these issues without thinking about the politics of race and class. Reflecting on the racism that continues to find expression in the world of real estate, she writes about segregation in housing and economic racialized zoning. In these critical essays, hooks finds surprising connections that link of the environment and sustainability to the politics of race and class that reach far beyond Kentucky.
With characteristic insight and honesty, Belonging offers a remarkable vision of a world where all people--wherever they may call home--can live fully and well, where everyone can belong.
In a series of short, accessible, and enlightening essays, hooks explores the confounding and sometimes controversial topics that teachers and students have urged her to address since the publication of the previous best-selling volumes in her Teaching series, Teaching to Transgress and Teaching Community. The issues are varied and broad, from whether meaningful teaching can take place in a large classroom setting to confronting issues of self-esteem. One professor, for example, asked how black female professors can maintain positive authority in a classroom without being seen through the lens of negative racist, sexist stereotypes. One teacher asked how to handle tears in the classroom, while another wanted to know how to use humor as a tool for learning.
Addressing questions of race, gender, and class in this work, hooks discusses the complex balance that allows us to teach, value, and learn from works written by racist and sexist authors. Highlighting the importance of reading, she insists on the primacy of free speech, a democratic education of literacy. Throughout these essays, she celebrates the transformative power of critical thinking. This is provocative, powerful, and joyful intellectual work. It is a must read for anyone who is at all interested in education today.
In Teaching Community bell hooks seeks to theorize from the place of the positive, looking at what works. Writing about struggles to end racism and white supremacy, she makes the useful point that "No one is born a racist. Everyone makes a choice." Teaching Community tells us how we can choose to end racism and create a beloved community. hooks looks at many issues-among them, spirituality in the classroom, white people looking to end racism, and erotic relationships between professors and students. Spirit, struggle, service, love, the ideals of shared knowledge and shared learning - these values motivate progressive social change.
Teachers of vision know that democratic education can never be confined to a classroom. Teaching - so often undervalued in our society -- can be a joyous and inclusive activity. bell hooks shows the way. "When teachers teach with love, combining care, commitment, knowledge, responsibility, respect, and trust, we are often able to enter the classroom and go straight to the heart of the matter, which is knowing what to do on any given day to create the best climate for learning."
As bell hooks uses her incisive mind and razor-sharp pen to explore the question "What is love?" her answers strike at both the mind and heart. In thirteen concise chapters, hooks examines her own search for emotional connection and society's failure to provide a model for learning to love. Razing the cultural paradigm that the ideal love is infused with sex and desire, she provides a new path to love that is sacred, redemptive, and healing for the individuals and for a nation. The Utne Reader declared bell hooks one of the "100 Visionaries Who Can Change Your Life." All About Love is a powerful affirmation of just how profoundly she can.