I stand firm in my voice & deliver

bell hooks translates the vibrancy and tradition that is Blackness, making it accessible to the entire world

bell hook's holds a special place for Monique.

bell hooks made sense of the paradox of my life. Where loneliness often left a void, loving myself in solitude made me whole. 

Born on Sept. 25, 1952, Gloria Jean Watkins changed the world of literature as a trailblazing Black female writer, professor, and activist. She adopted her pen name, bell hooks, from her maternal great-grandmother of the same name. 

Her deliberate use of lowercase letters differentiates her from her great-grandmother while setting her apart from any and all conventions of the literary landscape.

She was radical. 

Radical in her teachings about race and gender and the existence of Black women as a perennial force. Radical in bringing forth discussions of decolonization, masculinity, and life amid a culture of complete domination. hooks' legacy highlights topics that permeate each of our lives, yet are rarely openly discussed.

In reading her works, we're called to look upon disparate forms of knowing in one mutual space, all in the name of love.

Around the time of the beloved author’s passing, I fell into a plethora of bell hooks quotes, life lessons, anecdotes, and necessary sentiments.  

She validated my struggles in mastering the practice of solitude. At one point, her voice was my only motivator, another consciousness that understood loneliness as a necessary tool. More than ever before, she made me strong in my solitude. She made it easier for me to break up with the world I once knew.

Existing as one of the few Black female writers in the Kingston community contributes to my outsider status. 

We take on the role of translating the vast avenue of vibrancy and tradition that is Blackness, making it accessible to the entire world. We have the additional task of transmuting the multitude of microaggressions, illuminating the legacies of stolen land and unpaid labour, commemorating all our brothers and sisters that succumbed to the hardships of life in the margins. 

What a feat! Though we are expected, as people of colour, to stand firm in our voices and deliver. Albeit the difficulty of this task, deliver, hooks did. 

Her message, widespread as it is, has permeated the Queen’s community. 

When asked about their first encounter with hooks and her writing, many of my fellow peers came across the name as early as high school, “when learning about black academia and some of its trailblazers” (Alex Gittens, ArtSci ’22). Another engaged with her work more deeply in gender studies courses (Harry Wright, Con-Ed ’22), and one discovered hooks by simply reading her scathing critique of Beyoncé’s Lemonade (Fiona Meeson, ArtSci ’22). 

Yet her teachings remain, and help us all in a time when divisive rhetoric seems louder than the beat of our own hearts. For Wright, hooks’ work on education has impacted them greatly. 

“I have never read a work that focused so much on love and mutual, reciprocal relationship building than bell hooks. She emphasizes the importance of patience and simply listening when it comes to coming together across difference,” Wright told me. 

In the same vein, hooks’ writing was transformative in Meeson’s understanding of intersectional and radical feminism. 

“I didn’t grasp how crucial these theories are to women’s liberation until I read Feminist Theory: From Margin to Center,” Meeson explained. “hooks wrote about how achieving sexual and racial emancipation within our capitalist society is neither possible nor desirable.” 

For Temi Akintan (ArtSci’22), reading All About Love provided her with a new understanding of love as both “an intention and an action.” hooks’ writing disproves the common perception that romantic love is the most significant of all loves, emphasizing the interconnection of love in our personal and professional lives. 

My Black, Indigenous, and marginalized brothers and sisters in this community are woven together by the simple fact that we must all be aware of what our fellow marginalized visionaries are teaching us. 

hooks created a platform with enough room for each of us to stand on and belt. 

Gittens wrote: “hooks made me feel confident about being black in majority-white settings. She made me understand there is nothing wrong with being black, rather, it can be an advantage in certain academic settings!”

hooks continues to unite individuals from far-off lands by doing what we as humans do best: loving.


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