128. Marginal Comments: bell hooks and Patricia Hill Collins

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We bring the story of black feminism up to the turn of the century with the incisive works of bell hooks and Patricia Hill Collins.



Further Reading

• P.H. Collins, Black Feminist Thought: Knowledge, Consciousness, and the Politics of Empowerment (New York: 2000, first ed. 1990). 

• P.H. Collins and M. Andersen (eds), Race, Class and Gender: An Anthology (Belmont CA: 1992).

• P.H. Collins, Fighting Words: Black Women and the Search for Justice (Minneapolis: 1998). 

• P.H. Collins, Black Sexual Politics: African Americans, Gender, and the New Racism (New York: 2005).

• P.H. Collins, From Black Power to Hip Hop: Racism, Nationalism, and Feminism (Philadelphia: 2016). 


• b. hooks, Ain’t I a Woman: Black Women and Feminism (New York: 2015; first ed. 1981).

• b. hooks, Feminist Theory from Margin to Center (Boston: 1984).

• b. hooks, Talking Back: Thinking Feminist, Thinking Black (New York: 1989).

• b. hooks, Yearning: Race, Gender, and Cultural Politics (Boston: 1990).


Andrew on 16 July 2023


What has happened to the view counter? I don't see it anymore

In reply to by Andrew

Peter Adamson on 17 July 2023


Yeah that went away when Julian did the last revamp of the website, but actually I am glad that they are not publicly viewable, because they were misleading: they only showed the hits on the website, but most of the traffic is directly on the RSS feed. An episode that is a month old might get 30K hits on the feed will have only about 1-2K on the site. So it was under-reporting the real audience size by quite a bit. Also I have to say that the number of hits basically just correlates with how long a page has been up, with a bit of variation depending on the popularity of the topic (e.g. Shakespeare: very popular!). 

In reply to by Peter Adamson

Andrew on 18 July 2023

Maybe there is a way to get…

Maybe there is a way to get both hits and pull the RSS feed hits and put them together? Well, show them side by side, since putting them together might be misleading in its own way

Alexander Johnson on 21 July 2023

Hypocritical, or is there more going on?

Good episode, I found a lot of the bell hooks section insightful, but her own accusations of hypocrisy seem themselves hypocritical to me.  Presumably she had to have addressed somewhere.  The part I'm referring to is as follows.

"It is hypocrisy to oppose only certain aspects of white patriarchy out of self interest, as you might well do if you benefit from that system thanks to being white and middle class."

but then only moments later when addressing class divisions:

"until women accept the need for redistribution of wealth and resources within the united states...."

but then considering these positions together, it would seem to be hypocritical to oppose only the certain aspects of capitalist class based society, namely inequality within a national entity, while upholding the benefits of that nation's privileged position compared to people in many other nation-states.

Given that she seems to have been involved in socialist thought at some level, it seems impossible that she would be unaware of this tension given the prominence of Trotskyite ideas.  So i wonder what her defense of the position that wealth redistribution should occur at the national level is, or in what way she "checked her privilege" (as you summed it up) on her own participating in one might imagine she'd admit to being a globally oppressive system.

In reply to by Alexander Johnson

Peter Adamson on 21 July 2023

Global redistribution

Actually one thing I found really interesting in Collins' work is that she makes exactly this point - maybe we should have emphasized that even more than we did in the episode, but that stuff we quoted about how even poor black American women benefit from their citizenship rights, for example. In the two early works by hooks that I read for this episode she did not make this point; but I wouldn't be surprised if this insight appears in hooks' later works.

In any case I think there could be good pragmatic reasons for focusing on reform just within the USA, e.g. it could be a more feasible target, or just an initial target in a longer campaign. In earlier episodes we had various Africana thinkers making the point that reform of the USA system might be a precursor to a global movement rather than insisting that any activity within the USA would have to be subsumed within a global effort from the get-go. But on the other hand we have also seen Africana thinkers in North America emphasizing common cause with Africans, or even peoples further afield (e.g. the Black Panthers and the Vietcong); so this seems to be a running theme and perhaps tension within Africana thought.  

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