THE MASCULINE OPINION HERE is that this bell hooks speech presented by Toronto Women’s Bookstore on May 15, 2004 at Bloor Street United Church, places bell hooks at the edge of the radical, leftist universe. This speech, titled “Love: Connecting Self and Community,” takes us up right up to the boundaries of what radical public individuals of color can do as an individual. Here we have a refinement of the yearning theme in her work: a call for a connection to community, where the systematic cultivation of a nurturing collective is equally important as achieving as an individual.

I deeply respect the honesty of bell hooks: she does not hide behind the deceptive illusions of her fame, academic standing or financial status. She is honest about a political assassination attempt by a former colleague clawing in a barrel. She is honest about the shadow side of the mythical “strong Black woman” by sharing intimate details about the psychological state of her mother. She is honest about the limits of unlimited individuality in an artificial commercial society, a “dominator culture.” It is this drive to be candid that provides information for our young people so that they have the choice to listen, learn and not repeat all of the negative moments of black history.

At bottom, she is honest about the need for a community of resistance. This resonates with me because we people who call ourselves African will only be an entertaining memory—only an intellectual and materialistic fantasy—without the revival of African matriarchy through a vital, restoration culture. My vision of sustainable community cannot begin without wise women, powered by a renewable energy source—and bell hooks courageously questions the vitality of materialistic individuality, tearing down toxic structures to make space for renewal. This 2004 speech should not stand alone. It should be side by side with the recent work of Professor Wangari Maathai and Vandana Shiva so that we can be reminded of not just what the problems are but have some idea of how to develop solutions.

Note: during this speech, bell hooks will reference Dorothy Roberts, author of the book Killing the Black Body: Race, Reproduction, and the Meaning of Liberty. As of this writing, her Ms. Magazine interview is online.


Words and Flow by . . . . . . . bell hooks
Sound Production by . . . . . . . CKLN 88.1 fm

Interface Design and Programming by . . . . . . . Bryan Wilhite