Following the dying of famend cultural critic and feminist scholar-activist bell hooks on December 15, 2021, Pamela Ayo Yetunde, Aishah Shahidah Simmons, Kamilah Majied, Lori Perine, and Zenzele Isoke replicate on her profound life, legacy, and visionary message of affection.
Bowing to and for Professor bell hooks
by Pamela Ayo Yetunde
I used to be raised to be an obedient Black woman, and I used to be. I used to be well mannered, realized to watch and tamp down my sexuality, stored my mouth shut after I needed to talk, realized to mock white feminine aesthetics, and gave all elders respect a few of them didn’t deserve. Furthermore, I used to be taught to by no means overtly query anybody or something that had energy over me. To be pleasing, I strategized, would guarantee my security, recognition, and lovability. That’s what I believed and the way I behaved after I entered school, as a great woman, however by the point I used to be 20, I used to be sick and uninterested in being caged in by others’ expectations and want for cultural management so they may really feel comforted in my contrived Black woman presence. The time had come for me to discover what it meant to be a grown girl, so I took a Girls’s Research course the place I first encountered the writings of bell hooks. The yr was 1983 and we learn Ain’t I a Girl, written in 1981. hooks, a younger Black girl herself, blew my thoughts and sense of self to items!
hooks gave me permission to insurgent, query, be genuine, communicate my fact, love myself and others, and be unapologetically crucial as a Black girl. —Pamela Ayo Yetunde
What I keep in mind studying from hooks was that I may select to be who I needed to be and the explanation I had not made that alternative is due to racism, patriarchy, and the shortcoming to call and critique why oppression is what it’s. There are such a lot of phrases I may use to explain the sound of a bomb exploding, however none of them would aptly describe the shock and shock I felt recognizing the unapologetic, fierce, and clever truth-telling of this younger Black girl scholar’s work. She was the primary instance in my school lifetime of a younger Black feminist scholar analyzing the methods Black ladies had been oppressed. Studying hooks gave me permission to insurgent, query, be genuine, communicate my fact, love myself and others, and be unapologetically crucial as a Black girl. hooks helped me turn into a girl. As a grown girl, I acquired up the braveness to put in writing her after studying The place We Stand: Class Issues (2000), and despatched her a few of my writings.
Once I realized of hooks’s dying, I used to be in shock. The earlier week I had a dialog with a Lion’s Roar editor about reaching out to hooks about Buddhist observe. (The key information sources didn’t point out she was a Buddhist practitioner). The information got here to me from Black dharma sister Aishah Shahidah Simmons (see her dedication beneath) through textual content “bell joined the ancestors. I’m devasted…” and hooked up the obituary. I responded, “No!!!!!!” She wrote, “I’m devastated, sister”. We had been devastated. I hope this quick dedication to bell hooks (quick relative to her many contributions) lets readers know what she meant to us, and that regardless that there shall be no extra books authored by her, hooks’s mental and coronary heart energy remains to be with us via her revealed phrases. Learn up!
Pamela Ayo Yetunde, Th.D., is a Lion’s Roar Affiliate Editor who wrote her dissertation on the psycho-spiritual lives of African-American lesbians within the Perception custom and revealed these findings in Object Relations, Buddhism, and Relationality in Womanist Sensible Theology (Palgrave Macmillan, 2018).
by Aishah Shahidah Simmons
The final time I noticed bell hooks in particular person was on Friday, October 21, 2016, on the Black Girls Writers Symposium: Writing the Pure World, Appalachia & Past at Berea Faculty in Kentucky. Poet, creator, educator, and sister-friend Crystal Wilkinson envisioned and arranged the herstoric gathering. I used to be in Kentucky visiting drummer, filmmaker, activist, and my quarter of a century-long expensive sister-friend Joan Brannon. Joan was a presenter on the symposium, and I joyously accompanied her. The symposium was intergenerational and intimate. There wasn’t a boundary between presenters and attendees, which created a magical alternative for heartfelt, significant engagement. bell was beneficiant, accessible, and sisterly towards all of us.
The final time I learn bell hooks’ phrases was in November 2021 in preparation for the ultimate class within the six-week on-line Buddhism and Black Feminist course that I co-taught with my dharma sister-friend Rima Vesely-Flad at Barre Middle for Buddhist Research. Rima and I explored how Audre Lorde, Alice Walker, Toni Cade Bambara, and bell hooks’ writings function gateways to the dharma. bell hooks’ writings had been the main focus of our last class. Rima gave a dharma speak on bell’s self-defined “Buddhist-Christian-Feminist Love.” Quoting from bell hooks’ Salvation: Black Folks and Love, Rima shared how bell outlined an ethic of affection as extending oneself to nurture one’s personal and one other’s religious progress, “a mix of care, information, duty, respect, belief, and dedication.” Little did we all know that bell would be a part of the ancestral realm one month after our class ended.
At any time when I may hear bell communicate publicly, I did every little thing I may to attend in particular person. —Aishah Shahidah Simmons
Joan reached out to me to share the devastating information about bell’s passing. I’m grateful I realized via a pricey pal and never a social media put up. I wanted time to course of and grieve. I mirrored on how a lot I realized from bell since I first encountered her phrases after I was a youngster at my mother’s home within the Nineteen Eighties. I devoured her debut guide Ain’t I A Girl?: Black Girls and Feminism. Ain’t I A Girl, and Paula Giddings’ When and The place I Enter: The Influence of Black Girls on Race and Intercourse in America, had been a few of my literary guiding lights. Nevertheless, it was Speaking Again: Considering feminist, Considering black that rocked my world as an rising Black feminist lesbian media-maker. Bell articulated my unarticulated sentiments about well-liked tradition on the time, particularly Spike Lee’s landmark movie, She’s Gotta Have It. I used to be so moved by bell’s evaluation, that Speaking Again is among the prominently featured books in Silence…Damaged, my first independently produced quick experimental video conceived in a Toni Cade Bambara scriptwriting workshop at Scribe Video Middle in Philadelphia in 1993.
Bell was a prolific author. Through the years, I learn and re-read lots of bell’s thirty-plus books on a variety of matters. A number of of her titles are in my private library. At any time when I may hear her communicate publicly, I did every little thing I may to attend in particular person. I didn’t know her personally, however I do know a number of—spanning generations— who had been her shut buddies, comrades, and mentees. So, I felt a private kinship to her via overlapping concentric circles. With out query, bell’s radical Black feminist anti-patriarchal and anti-capitalist pondering, writing, and talking instantly knowledgeable my cultural work. And as a practising Buddhist since 2002, I at all times discovered consolation and steering realizing that bell, a Black feminist, was a dedicated traveler on the Buddhist path who wrote and spoke overtly about her Buddhist orientation and observe for many years. She was a pathbreaker and mapmaker.
bell hooks, ¡Presente! You aren’t forgotten. Your phrases are with us in all methods. Your presence is with us in new methods as a beloved ancestor. Might your Spirit be totally liberated within the ancestral realm. Ashé.
Aishah Shahidah Simmons (she/her) is the producer/director of the 2006-released, Ford Basis-funded movie, NO! The Rape Documentary, and the editor of the 2020 Lambda Literary Award-winning anthology, love WITH accountability: Digging Up the Roots of Little one Sexual Abuse (AK Press 2019). Presently, she is a Soros Media Fellow.
Black Girl Free: bell hooks, Buddhism and Absolute Freedom
by Kamilah Majied
Good writers enlighten us via phrases that illuminate not solely their spirit, their Buddha nature, however ours as nicely. bell hooks’ huge spirit, coronary heart and thoughts helped mild my option to an inside spaciousness, to freedom.
By her work I understand how liberation might be established and bolstered by phrases; the voice doing the Buddhas’ work. Her essays guided me to a realizing of myself and the world that kicked down the doorways of misogynoir, racism, and heteropatriarchy.
Once I was a youngster, not many households had been encouraging their child women to be lesbians, bisexual or some other type of queer. bell hooks informed me it was radical, liberating, and transcendent to venerate ladies. There’s area for loving ladies with out limits in my life as a result of bell opened my thoughts, emboldened my coronary heart, and helped me retrieve my physique from the patriarchy.
bell hooks’ work is the developmental skeleton, the very bones of my mental and cognitive schema for all times as a free black girl. —Kamilah Majied
By her trailblazing artistry, I skilled a panoramic panorama of crucial thought, drew blueprints for my very own Black feminist life and started to put in writing myself free as she did. bell hooks’ work is the developmental skeleton, the very bones of my mental and cognitive schema for all times as a free black girl.
My Buddhist instructor, Daisaku Ikeda mentioned “Freedom doesn’t imply the absence of all restrictions. It means possessing unshakable conviction within the face of any impediment.” bell hooks modeled freedom via her unwavering dedication to human liberation from oppressive concepts and methods of being. Her cultural criticisms stung typically as a result of she was so usually proper and inspiring us to launch the trimmings of internalized racism, sexism, and hedonistic consumerism. Every of the paramitas is obvious in bell hooks’ life and work.
The generosity with which she gave of herself
disciplining her coronary heart and thoughts
her enduring, diligent love made seen via writing
her centered focus on defeating oppression
the willpower that displays her bodhisattva spirit
the information she accrued and interpreted,
the skillful means by which she conveyed her insights
main multitudes to knowledge
Might her boundless life drive really feel my infinite gratitude.
Kamilah Majied, Ph.D. is a psychological well being clinician, educator and internationally engaged guide on constructing inclusivity and fairness utilizing meditative practices. Dr. Majied is a social work school member at California State College, Monterey Bay. To be taught extra go to KamilahMajied.com
bell hooks earlier than Nonduality
by Lori A. Perine (True Harmonious Dwelling)
Earlier than the idea of duality entered my consciousness, earlier than the fact of interbeing entered my consciousness, earlier than the embodiment of engaged Buddhism entered my observe, there was bell hooks.
As an ardent younger black feminist learning at a predominantly-white ladies’s school, I had the luxurious of studying broadly amongst a wealthy providing of feminist writings. Thus I first encountered the marvel that was bell hooks: an elder sister who wrote incisively and insistently about reworking the profound pathologies inside our collective consciousness which devalue Blackness and female-identified individuals.
I resonated with bell hooks’ willpower to be truthful concerning the root causes resulting in manifestations of intersectional struggling. I used to be additionally drawn to her beneficiant cultivation of affection that cuts via illusions about race and gender, in order that all of us is perhaps liberated from attachments to dualism and domination. In her lived instance of social engagement deeply knowledgeable by Buddhist observe, bell hooks turned an inspiration and information. I welcomed her references to Buddhist teachings and lecturers. They launched me to skillful means and opened new doorways of consciousness, paving a path to my present observe of engaged Buddhism inside the Plum Village custom.
I used to be drawn to her beneficiant cultivation of affection that cuts via illusions about race and gender. —Lori A. Perine (True Harmonious Dwelling)
A easy assertion in a 1992 interview about bell hooks’ observe with engaged Buddhism has stayed with me all through the years and stays foundational even immediately:
If I had been actually requested to outline myself, I wouldn’t begin with race; I wouldn’t begin with blackness; I wouldn’t begin with gender; I wouldn’t begin with feminism. I might begin with stripping all the way down to what essentially informs my life, which is that I’m a seeker on … a path about love.
These phrases initially spoke to me as a religious seeker throughout traditions and invited a deeper observe of dissolving dualities and misperceptions in my consciousness. Over time, I’ve come to acknowledge and search to emulate bell hooks’ clear consciousness of interbeing and her non-attachment to views, even Buddhist teachings, when performing for social change. I’m grateful for her easy every day invitation to engaged observe: ‘ So, daily, I’m difficult myself, “What are you doing, [Lori], for the creation of the beloved neighborhood?”
Lori Perine (True Harmonious Dwelling) is an ordained member of the Order of Interbeing and a core member of the ARISE (Awakening via Race, Intersectionality, and Social Fairness) Sangha. Her observe of engaged Buddhism manifests in her work as a school educator and mentor to black, Latinx, and immigrant youth and as a policy-maker, advocating for inclusion and progress of ladies and underrepresented minorities in STEM schooling, analysis, and business.
bell hooks was a Mighty, Mighty Visionary
by Zenzele Isoke
My coronary heart dropped after I heard that bell hooks had made her transition to the worlds of the ancestors. And on the similar time, I smiled as a result of I understood that she had finished the work that she had come to do on this world, and left us with a 30+ quantity guide on how this work can proceed. All through her life and all the corpus of revealed works bell hooks taught us find out how to transfer and act in opposition to oppression via crucial pondering and fierce truthtelling. She modeled how our phrases and actions can be utilized to burn down the delusions of white supremacist, imperialist, capitalist, patriarchy, whereas on the similar time assist to forge the bonds of a beloved neighborhood rooted in mutuality, care and a profound love of Black ladies’s therapeutic tradition.
bell taught us that the second that we select love is the second we select freedom. —Zenzele Isoke
bell hooks was my first black feminist instructor, serving to me to seek out my very own voice as educator and author. She taught me find out how to see, deconstruct and reject the white gaze, and thru her personal life, how we will stay a social and mental life grounded within the ethics of compassion and liberation. She taught us that the second that we select love is the second we select freedom: her phrases. Because of her principled and hard-hitting critiques of many well-established cultural leaders, bell hooks had many detractors and naysayers who rejected her daring embrace of feminism. As an alternative of trying away she leaned in, with full and loving engagement on matters as advanced as internalized racial superiority, intra-racial chauvinistic violence and find out how to carry Buddhist religious ethics right into a secularized world.
A mighty, mighty visionary has made her transition into the world of the ancestors the place she might be remembered and known as on every day to guard and information us and to encourage us to be taught to be higher variations of ourselves with every breath that we draw.
Zenzele Isoke, Ph.D. Zenzele Isoke is a black feminist theorist, city ethnographer, and political storyteller. She is the Director of Graduate Research within the Division of Girls, Gender, and Sexuality Research on the College of Minnesota and the creator of City Black Girls and the Politics of Resistance (Palgrave 2013). Zenzele leads meditation teams via Widespread Floor Meditation Middle and Yoga Room in North Minneapolis.