bell hooks and Loving a Feminist

I love a lot of things about my man. He’s funny, he’s honest, he works hard, he reads. His intellect and his artist’s eye will blow you out of the water. He’s well-traveled. You get the idea—I think my boyfriend’s amazing. I’m sure a million other girls would say the same about their significant others.

One of the things about this man that I will always remember is his reaction to this conversation between Melissa Harris-Perry and bell hooks (who I was delighted to see address the fact that the lowercasing of her name backfired). I live on the internet and am constantly reading articles all over the place, seeing funny images and comics, commenting on statuses and blogposts…and so I’m constantly sending my boyfriend links. Anything that makes me think of him, that I think he’d laugh at or otherwise appreciate, that I need him to share in my rage about, I send it to him. My guess is that he only sees about 20% of what I send because he does not live on the internet— but what he does see, we usually talk about. I’ll never forget the morning I woke up, looked at my phone, and saw a text from my man— who, six months before, had no familiarity whatsoever with feminism— that said:

“I love bell hooks.”

Could there be anything more beautiful?

Don’t get me wrong. It’s not like we (or anyone) have been able to completely escape the patriarchy. We had a lengthy argument one very early morning about the state of my armpit hair. We debated once, for days, women changing or not changing their names after marriage (and we come back to the topic often). Just recently, he told me that sometimes you have to let a man be a man and a woman be a woman. Outraged, I asked what on earth he meant by that, especially when he already knows darn well what kind of woman I am.

“I think,” he said, “my manliness would be when I say I’m done talking about something. And your womanliness would be when you just keep right on talking about it anyway.”

Which of course, I did.

There have also been times when racism goes completely over my head because I’ve never had to deal with it. We’ve both said, wittingly and unwittingly, sexist and racist things. The difference, I think, between now and before we were together is that we address those things, acknowledge them and learn from them, which sometimes is all you can really do.

By human standards, I’m a little new to the relationship game. I’ve been with my boyfriend about a year, and before that I’d been pretty darn single for almost four years. So I’m maybe not the MOST experienced or seasoned person to give romantic advice. I imagine, however, that when you’re with somebody and plan to do it for a long time, you find a lot of good in everything they are in do. Even in their annoying habits, even when they say the complete WRONG thing or don’t shut up when they need to, hopefully you even find a little good there (or at the very least, some amusement). I’m coming to appreciate most aspects of who my man is, and I hope that feeling is mutual.

It’s not hard to appreciate that he loves bell hooks, though, and there’s a Beyoncé/bell hooks post forthcoming.

Bill O’Reilly Bashes Beyoncé: Problems in the White Community

Just a few days ago, Bill O’Reilly showed several clips from Beyoncé videos and said something along the lines of, “Shame on you Beyoncé. You’re not empowering women. Look at all the teen/unplanned pregnancies in the black community!”

(Bill O’Reilly just wants to keep young black girls on the right path. Such a kind heart. <3)

“Disgraceful,” said my grandfather, who was next to me on the couch. Fox News is a favorite channel at his house.

Frowning and perplexed, I refrained from trying to question Bill O’Reilly through the TV screen. Instead, I’ll present my thoughts here.

Bill O’Reilly apparently criticized Beyoncé out of concern not only for young impressionable women, but out of concern for the black community. I’ve noticed that O’Reilly and Fox and a lot of news sources in general are quick and almost happy to point out problems they observe as belonging to “the black community.” Violence in the black community. Poverty in the black community. Abuse in the black community. Pregnancy, abortion, sex. You get the idea— you just take any problem you can think of, and you add “in the black community.”

So…where’s the concern for the issues of the white community?

I’m serious. Most of these newscasters are white, aren’t they? And just look at what’s been in the news lately:

-that Clippers guy, his rant and how he was just banned from the NBA

-that Bundy guy (really, how could anyone defend a guy named Bundy?) and his racist remarks 

this racist letter distributed in a neighborhood in Denver

-the KKK launching a neighborhood watch initiative. I sure do feel safer now!

How can you look at this and not see the ENORMOUS problem here?

Why isn’t Bill O’Reilly calling on the white community to call friends out on their racism, to discourage family members from associating with organizations like the KKK, to tell their children exactly why Cliven Bundy and Don Sterling’s remarks were so wrong? Forget the black community for minute, Fox, and take a look at all those aging white viewers you’ve got. There’s a definite problem, and instead of trying to solve it, the white community is just looking the other way, pretending these current events and remarks are all isolated incidents.

The closest any news source seems to have come to doing this is CNN, who seems to want to help the KKK change its image.  You’re right CNN— we don’t need to abolish the KKK, we just need to rebrand them and make them “new”!

As my grandfather would say, it’s a disgrace!

Fellow white people, please join me in my concern. There is a problem here, and it’s OUR racism. If we are the mainstream,  if we are the majority, shouldn’t we be striving to set a good example? We can’t continue to let these kinds of attitudes permeate and represent our community.

**And on a personal note, Bill O’Reilly— if you’re concerned about unplanned pregnancies, why aren’t you more concerned about access to contraception and less concerned about deprecating black female sexuality?