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bell hooks Creates Community at Berea

One after the other nearly thirty women (and men) around the circle introduce themselves. Directed to tell who they are and what they've been thinking about lately, the topics range from Christianity to AIDS, from family to good books they've read. As they speak, bell hooks urges them on, interjecting questions and insights about what they have said.

bell hooks

bell hooks is a renowned writer and activist who has written over 25 books and for years has spoken out about race, gender, education and community. hooks joined the faculty at Berea College in 2004 as a Distinguished Professor-in-Residence. This year, she is participating in events such as Monday Night Feminism, a chance for any feminist at Berea College to come and be heard.

Carolyn Newton, academic vice-president and Provost, says that the events featuring hooks are "an exciting opportunity to be in conversation with a writer and thinker who has earned attention and respect across the world. [] She is able to develop community through conversation. She is a truly amazing person!"

During the first Monday discussion, hooks tells how she was walking on Berea's campus one day observing the students heading to and from class and saw something that brought a question to her mind.

"'How do you study when you're half-naked?'" she says with a laugh. Then she phrases the topic more seriously. "Have we lost something in the 'freedom' of female students to wear what they want to wear?" The conversation turns to the relevance of feminism, and what exactly feminism is. Feminism is "an end to sexism and sexist oppression," says hooks. Feminism isn't solely for women, either. There are men at this discussion who are just as dedicated to ending sexism.

Monday Night Feminism with bell hooks takes place from 5-6 pm at Phelps Stokes Chapel, in the Women's Studies parlor on the second floor. Everyone is welcome, and may attend one or all sessions.

bell hooks is currently heading a seminar on "Building Beloved Community: The Practice of Impartial Love". In the first session, she asked participants to think about the action they took most recently to "increase the existence of impartial love across race in Berea." hooks talked about being a "citizen of the world" and how people must take their sense of community beyond Berea College. She believes the practice of impartial love should continue even after students graduate.

There are even more opportunities to learn from bell hooks. Later this semester, hooks will be participating in "Peanut Butter & Gender: 'Black Women and Feminism'" along with Beverly Guy-Sheftall, on October 12. Peanut Butter & Gender is a regular luncheon lecture series put on by the Women's Studies department about issues of gender and culture, featuring guest speakers and distinguished scholars.

In November there will be a two-hour, college-wide symposium; "Diversity in Spirituality: Implications for Wellness". bell hooks and Daya Singh Sandhu, a professor from University of Louisville, will talk about health and spirituality in the context of an institution with a Christian identity. All classes and non-essential labor positions will be let out early so students have a chance to attend.

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