Bell hooks | Critical Review by Rebecca Walker

This literature criticism consists of approximately 3 pages of analysis & critique of Bell hooks.
This section contains 680 words
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Buy the Critical Review by Rebecca Walker

Critical Review by Rebecca Walker

SOURCE: "A Political Homeplace," in Ms., Vol. 1, No. 4, January-February, 1991, pp. 62-3.

In the following review, Walker asserts that "Yearning is about wanting to find health in an ailing community, and doing so through coming to voice, sharing ideas, and healing the whole community."

In these times of increased division and coalition, based on ideology and political consciousness, it is helpful to find a writer who wants to put us all together, but who does not want us to be the same. bell hooks, in her fourth collection of essays, Yearning: Race, Gender, and Cultural Politics, writes about the need for those of us engaged in what her publishers call "the politics of radical social change," to speak with true voices to one another in order to forge a healthy and spiritually dynamic community.

She proposes that criticism be used as a means for diversity and integration; she suggests that we not hate or cut out what does not exactly jibe with our agenda, but instead engage it, unearth its fallacies or hegemonic tendencies, and bring that interpretation back to the group. Setting an example, she enjoins us to follow her interpretations of popular culture, and as we allow her words to form new spaces in social political theory, we begin to envision new forms of counter-hegemonic togetherness.

In this book, hooks applies her "critical yet supportive" model to a myriad of relationships and situations, many of which engage some of today's most dynamic issues. In the essay "Postmodern Blackness" she looks at what it means to be black and interested in elitist, usually white-male-dominated postmodern theory. In "Counter-Hegemonic Art: Do the Right Thing" she writes about Spike Lee's Do the Right Thing in terms of what it doesn't do to relieve oppression. In "A Call for Militant Resistance" she fearlessly connects the words of Lorraine Hansberry with Euzhan Palcy's film A Dry White Season, in recognition of the much maligned power of militancy.

A self-avowed African American feminist, hooks tackles many of the "detrimental to the community" pitfalls often found in relationships among black women, between black women and Euro-American women, and between black women and men. Her insights into perceived power relations and nonproductive assumptions are uncanny and enlightening.

Many of these problems are addressed in essays about black cultural reclamation, as in the especially powerful piece, "Homeplace." Here, hooks remembers the homes of her own black community as safe places of humanization, created by women as acts of resistance against the brutality that raged outside. She identifies the homeplace as a traditional site of resistance, and reveals how the current patriarchal order has corrupted this space. Not only has violence against women made the home physically unsafe, but also, hooks argues, we live in a society that fails to recognize—and value—the political work that women have put into the creation of the homeplace.

While there is something here for everyone, some may feel the book is a bit academic, somehow inaccessible to those not versed in "the academic discourse." Others may find fault with just the opposite, the personal, not-strictly-academic tone. This ambiguity of style that blends prose with literary theory, and popular culture with deconstruction, embodies the message: interdisciplinary, intercultural, international discussion. In demystified terms, please.

Yearning is about wanting to find health in an ailing community, and doing so through coming to voice, sharing ideas, and healing the whole community. It is about knowing how to read the nihilist, sexist attitudes that permeate our community, from Ice Cube and the new radical chic to Harvard seniors and "third world diva girls." It is about using that reading, that piece of cultural criticism, to forge a sustainable community. This equalized community unites peoples from all fronts, and is a space for inclusive and progressive politics rather than exclusive and reactionary ones.

This is not, I repeat, not a community in which the critics bond in the process of criticizing the Other. hooks calls for a space in which criticism is understood as a necessary act of love and respect, and a base upon which revolutionary struggle can be built.

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This section contains 680 words
(approx. 3 pages at 300 words per page)
Buy the Critical Review by Rebecca Walker
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