Black On Campus
Higher Education and the African American Experience

The Quotable Black Scholar: bell hooks on Class in the Academy

July 30th, 2009 by Ajuan Mance

bell hooks is ranked #4 on the list of the most cited Black scholars in the humanities.


bell hooks (b. 1952)

(Source: Biographical Dictionary)


At no time in my years as a student did I march in a graduation ceremony. I was not proud to hold degrees from institutions where I had been constantly scorned and shamed. I wanted to forget these experiences, to erase them from my consciousness. Like a prisoner set free, I did not want to remember my years on the inside. When I finished my doctorate, I felt too much uncertainty about who I had become. Uncertain about whether I had managed to make it through without giving up the best of myself, the best of the values I had been raised to believe in-hard work, honesty, and respect for everyone no matter their class-I finished my education with my allegiance to the working class intact. Even so, I had planted my feet on the path leading in the direction of class privilege. There would always be contradictions to face. There would always be confrontations around the issue of class. I would always have to reexamine where I stand.

–bell hooks, from “Learning in the Shadow of Race and Class,” The Chronicle of Higher Education (November 17, 2000)


Biographical Notes: Gloria Watkins (known professionally by her pen name, “bell hooks”), holds a B.A. from Stanford University (1973), an M.A. form the University of Wisconsin, and a Ph.D. from the University of California, Santa Cruz. One of the most prolific and influential feminist scholars of the last 30 years, she has written and published more than 20 books and numerous articles related to Black feminism, cultural studies, and critical analysis.

Hooks has taught at University of California-Santa Cruz, Yale University, Oberlin College, and City College of New York. To read a more detailed biography of bell hooks, follow this link.

Posted by Ajuan Mance

Posted in Academia, African Americans, Higher Education

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