Anna and I went and saw bell hooks speak at my school tonight. Listening to her reminded me that I haven't read enough of her books; she seems to cover such a wide variety of topics, and many of them seem definitely interesting enough to me that I should really look into them. Her speaking style was really what I noticed first, because it seemed like such a logical thing: she would read a bit from her prepared material, then step away from the podium and engage the audience in a much more personal and wide-ranging discussion of what she had just read. She's also quite funny at times, and there was a lot of audience response going on more or less throughout. Things that seemed particularly notable to me:
-The use of the black female body as a site of the reinscription of conservatism, such as the Bush presence at Coretta Scott King's funeral and several examples of portrayals of black women in movies
-how the presence of a state-sanctioned fascist Christianity allows religion to be used to silence critical discourse (her example was a southern christian lady telling her that "if she had Jesus in her heart she wouldn't have to talk about racism anymore," I believe)
-the strategy of personal agency and forgiveness vs. blame of the oppressor in political movements, and the binary of victim and oppressor and how that has hurt the self-esteem of people of color
-a lack of black images in mainstream media pre-1960's was also a lack of racist mainstream-accepted images (what about, say, political cartoons in newpapers? I suppose that t.v. is more widespread than those, but it seems to me that racist accepted images were not really lacking. I guess maybe it matters what kind of specific images and such you're talking about.)
-Initial violent acts in political movements (like the civil rights movement) leading to violence on the part of white patriarchal supremacist etc society, which led people of color to either embrace assimilation or despair, which led to a greed-based drug economy in black neighborhoods and their eventual decay
-the link between fantasy and addiction, particularly in terms of wealth-fantasy
-the link between ethics, spirituality, love and secularism; why are these not connected for us? Spirituality doesn't have to mean religion, as she noted, but more a "secular sense of the spirit." She also noted that political awareness in many American political leaders has come from some form of spirituality (Martin Luther King, Malcolm X).
Basically, I really enjoyed myself. She was really articulate but still academic and theoretical, and she made some really good points. She also signed my books, yay! I hope you all will have a chance to see her talk some day.