Book description

Book info

eBook formatPaperback, (torrent)En
PublisherSouth End Press
File size6.5 Mb
GanreNon Fiction
Release date 01.07.1999
Pages count200
Book rating4.27 (1169 votes)
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Black Looks: Race and Representation is a collection of 12 essays by Bell Hooks looking at a range of issues including black sexuality, masculinity,commodification of black culture and black history, arising from representations of people of colour in a white supremacist capitalist patriarchy.

As a feminist,I think it is of vital importance to be aware of race issues and the way that women of colour have been silenced and marginalized by the movement. Its particularly important to me as a white woman to listen and broaden my knowledge of race and feminism, to read amazing writers such as Bell Hooks and absorb what they have to say about important criticisms about racial representation and this white patriarchy we are raised in. Despite its being written in the 90s I found Black Looks extremely interesting and relevant,not to mention educational and certainly enlightening. I didn't need to agree with everything she said to get something of great value from the essays, and although it is American-centric, I can see the parallels with the treatment and representation of minority and indigenous people in my own country (New Zealand)

Some of the essays stood out for me more than others.Loving Blackness as Political Resistance looked at the ways that blackness is represented negatively in contrast to whiteness and its effects on black people, as well as 'loving blackness' as a form of resistance.I especially found Eating the Other and Selling Hot Pussy as incredibly relevant,as they deal with commodification of black culture,appropriation and fetishization , and with black sexuality as seen by whites but also the ways black women see themselves and are treated my men in their own culture.Bell hooks looks at the way white supremacist society misrepresents blackness as well as abusing it and marginalizing black people, but also the way people have internalized racism and racist ideas about themselves,as well as internalized sexism. The look at black male masculinity,the ways white supremacist capitalist patriarchy has changed and effected it and the way some black men have internalized its messages to mistreat their black sisters in Reconstructing Black Masculinity was really eye opening and interesting. The essay on Madonna was quite interesting in light of the racist and sexist things Madonna has subsequently done since the books publication (such as saying black men are the most sexist shes ever met). One thing that stayed with me was the absolute need for both white men and women and black men and women to decolonize their minds, thoughts and ideals,for white people to be ever aware of their privilege and to listen to and support our brothers and sisters in their struggle against a system of interlocking oppression. I love the name hooks uses to articulate this system; white supremacist capitalist patriarchy, which is a system which oppresses people based on their race, their class,and their gender, and is thus detrimental to everyone,and in everyones interest to dismantle and fight. I think feminism as a movement is doing much better now to address intersectional oppression,but its sad seeing how much the voices of people of colour , especially black women,have been and continue to be ignored and marginalized.Its up to white men and women to help strengthen that voice,and object to detrimental and stereotyped representations whilst promoting platforms for people of colour. We also need to shut up and listen,and learn about alternative ways of being and thinking from people of colour.

One of the lines in Representing Whiteness struck me as really important and relevant
"Often their rage erupts because they believe that all ways of looking that highlight difference subvert the liberal belief in a universal subjectivity(we are all just people) that they think will make racism disappear. They have a deep emotional attachment in the myth of "sameness" , even as their actions reflect the primacy of whiteness as a sign informing who they are and how they think."
The 'I don't see colour' bullshit I hear white people pull out gets seriously infuriating and is way too common.

Another thing that stayed with me is the reiteration that its really hard for white people to understand the psychological terror and trauma that historical oppression and genocide continue to have on people of colour,especially as they struggle with ongoing racism and oppression.This is brought up in the final essay Revolutionary Renegades which I found to be one of the most interesting. It perfectly demonstrates the active attempt to suppress parts of history,as is done with historical womens contributions, specifically the historic solidarity and kinship between Native Americans and Africans/African Americans.
"Contrary to colonial white imperialist insistence that it was'natural' for groups who are different to engage in conflict and power struggle, the first meetings of Africans and Native Americans offer a counter-perspective , a vision of cross-cultural contact where reciprocity and recognition of the primacy of the culture are affirmed, where the will to conquer and dominate was not seen as the only way to confront the Other who is not ourselves."

I'll leave this review with some insight and advice that I myself and white people need to remember
"Understanding how racism works,he can see the way in which whiteness acts to terrorize without seeing himself as bad,or all white people as bad, and all black people as good.Repudiating us-and-them dichotomies does not mean that we should never speak of the ways observing the world from the standpoint of ' whiteness' may indeed distort perception, impede understanding of the way racism works both in the larger world as well as in the world of our intimate interactions. "

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