Bell Hooks Talking Back Essay

“Often black people, especially non-gay folk, become enraged when they hear a white person who is gay suggest homosexuality is synonymous with the suffering people experience as a consequence of racial exploitation and oppression. The need to make gay experience and black experience of oppression synonymous seems to be one that surfaces much more in the minds of white people. Too often it is a way of minimizing or diminishing the particular problems people of color face in a white supremacist society, especially the problems ones encounter because they do not have white skin. Many of us have been in discussions where a non-white person – a black person – struggles to explain to white folks that while we can acknowledge that gay people of all colors are harassed and suffer exploitation and domination, we also recognize that there is a significant difference that arises because of the visibility of dark skin. Often homophobic attacks on gay people of all occur in situations where knowledge of sexual preference is established – outside of gay bars, for example. While it in no way lessens the severity of such suffering for gay people, or the fear that it causes, it does mean that in a given situation the apparatus of protection and survival may be simply not identifying as gay.

In contrast, most people of color have no choice. No one can hide, change or mask dark skin color. White people, gay and straight, could show greater understanding of the impact of racial oppression on people of color by not attempting to make these oppressions synonymous, but rather by showing the ways they are linked and yet differ. Concurrently, the attempt by white people to make synonymous experience of homophobic aggression with racial oppression deflects attention away from the particular dual dilemma that non-white gay people face, as individuals who confront both racism and homophobia.”
― bell hooks, Talking Back: Thinking Feminist, Thinking Black

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Talking Back: Thinking Feminist, Thinking Black

bell hooks, Author South End Press $15 (186p) ISBN 978-0-89608-352-3
Hooks, a pen name for Gloria Watkins, the author of Ain't I A Woman: Black Women and Feminism , here gathers essays that also focus on being black and feminist in America. She begins by recounting painful personal experiences: growing up in a repressive, Southern, ``father-dominated household,'' attending a segregated high school, struggling to find her own, persuasive voice and become a writer, and learning to deal with racism and sexism while studying at ``predominately white universities'' in Wisconsin and California. Hooks then moves on to a general discussion of the women's movement and how ``white supremacy'' in our society adversely affects it. Although the author makes perceptive and provocative observations, they are diminished by redundancy and weakened by her doctrinaire Marxist rhetoric: ``In resistance, the exploited, the oppressed work to expose the false realityto reclaim and recover ourselves. We make the revolutionary history.'' In addition, the author employs labels such as ``got everything White people.'' Ultimately, she fails to convince or even to use her own voice. (Dec.)
Reviewed on: 06/28/1999
Release date: 07/01/1999
Paperback - 184 pages - 978-0-921284-09-3
Paperback - 184 pages - 978-1-138-82173-6
Hardcover - 184 pages - 978-1-138-82172-9
Ebook - 208 pages - 978-1-317-58820-7
Open Ebook - 208 pages - 978-1-317-58822-1
Open Ebook - 208 pages - 978-1-317-58821-4
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