Author, intellectual, and feminist scholar bell hooks has died.
Her passing was announced in a statement from Berea College in Kentucky, where hooks taught as a Distinguished Professor in Residence of Appalachian Studies. “Berea College is deeply saddened about the death of bell hooks,” the statement read, adding that hooks’ died following “an extended illness.” She was 69.
Born Gloria Jean Watkins to a working-class family in Kentucky, hooks took the name bell hooks from her maternal great-grandmother. For decades, hooks remained a force at the intersection between scholarly theory and social activism. In her work, hooks, who was both Black and queer, focused on the intersections between race, class, sexuality, and gender, and cast a critical eye on dominant social structures.
Throughout her career, she authored over 30 books, including “Ain’t I a Woman?: Black Women and Feminism”, which explores the historic oppression of Black women as well as racism within the feminist movement. It remains a classic in Black feminist literature.
She is also the author of “Feminist Theory: From Margin to Center,” which continued to exploration of the marginalization of poor and non-white women in feminist scholarship, and the memoir, “Bone Black: Memories of Girlhood,” which chronicles her time growing up in a poor family in segregated America.
She used lower case spelling for her chosen name to both distinguish herself from her great-grandmother, and to draw attention to her ideas rather than her identity.
Her loss “is incalculable,” wrote Roxane Gay on Twitter following the news of hooks’ death. “Oh my heart. bell hooks. May she rest in power.”
Oh my heart. bell hooks. May she rest in power. Her loss is incalculable.
— roxane gay (@rgay) December 15, 2021