ChickenBones: A Journal

for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes


Home   ChickenBones Store (Books, DVDs, Music, and more)  


 Like a shaman or medicine woman hooks' written words serve as an incantation to induce

a higher consciousness, a mental and spiritual possession if you will, that helps

the reader transcend the somnambulism of white supremacist propaganda



Books by bell hooks


All about Love / Where We Stand: Class Matters  /  Teaching to Transgress Feminism Is for Everybody Teaching Community


Ain't I a Woman / Feminist Theory / Skin Again /  Killing Rage /  Salvation  / Black Looks  /  The Will to Change /


Outlaw Culture / Yearning Bone Black We Real Cool Happy to be Nappy / Reel to Real Sisters of the Yam  / Rock My Soul


*   *   *   *   *


bell hooks' Rock My Soul

Examines Black Self-Esteem

By Junious Ricardo Stanton

For many years black people lived in fear of racist white folks imposing demonizing stereotypes aimed at silencing any attempt to name the pain of racism and demand accountability. Now they must face fellow African-Americans who mock and ridicule their articulations of pain, who are quick to insist that the claims of other black folks to victimization are fraudulent. These individuals never consider that post-traumatic stress could be a factor influencing an individual to overreact in incidents where observers who know nothing of that person's psychological history may see the situation in an utterly different light. -- bell hooks Rock My Soul, p.30

Social critic, writer, university professor and lecturer bell hooks' new book picks up where her more recent works: All About Love: New Visions and Salvation: Black People And Love left off. Her latest work Rock My Soul: Black People And Self Esteem examines the varied and sundry ways African people's psyches have been assaulted, bruised, brutalized and damaged and what we must do to heal ourselves. hooks is one of the great thinkers of our time a Sistah who has engaged in the arduous task of what she calls in many of her writings "decolonizing" her mind.

During the 80's pop psychologists spoke freely of self-esteem and how poor self-esteem was a humongous weight upon the psyche of anyone unfortunate enough to have developed a low self-image and fractured self-concept. Most of these psychologists and psychiatrists were writing for and speaking to the larger Euro-AmeriKKKan public.

Little time and effort went into examining why and how people of color in general and Africans in AmeriKKKa in particular manifest low self-esteem and self-hatred. hooks in her take no prisoners tell it like it is style explains how the slavery and post Civil War racial caste system experience with its gender chauvinism and oppression, color obsession and class biases shaped how Africans in AmeriKKKa saw themselves and how we attempted to cope with the dehumanization and demonization process AmeriKKKa subjected us to. hooks, as usual, looks at the situation with fresh eyes bringing a feminist perspective to her subject that provokes thought and makes the reader continue reading, put the book down to ponder the profundity of what she is saying or abandon reading it altogether because she hits a raw nerve.

Like a shaman or medicine woman hooks' written words serve as an incantation to induce a higher consciousness, a mental and spiritual possession if you will, that helps the reader transcend the somnambulism of white supremacist propaganda and sets us on a path of self-examination, enlightenment and healing. She examines the irony of AmeriKKKan racial history, sharing how racist patriarchal oppression attempted mightily to squash the African spirit, how the black community during the pre-Civil Rights period protected the precious psyches of black children against racist assault, how the Black Power movement raised black people's self-esteem but how assimilationist values coupled with improved economic conditions and relaxed psychological defenses led to African people imitating of the ways of the oppressor and how a mass media cultural apparatus that promote patriarchal imperialist white supremacist and individualistic values causes us to reject and hate who and what we are.

hooks provides often overlooked  insights into the causes of our current malaise as well as offering suggestive solutions such as the need to develop critical thinking skills, a liberating spiritual base, personal integrity and courage,  the formulation of a pedagogy that validates  and affirms blackness and a return to racial upliftment and communal responsibility. While self-esteem is subjective and personal, it spills over in our interpersonal, and filial lives. When a whole community or people are under relentless assault by the forces of genocidal white supremacy and its psychological defense systems have faltered, individuals within the community exhibit a myriad of chronic symptoms of low self-esteem which in turn motivates them to engage in self-negating and self-destructive behaviors that put the whole community at risk. We certainly see examples of this in our communities on a daily basis.

So many folks decry the state of Black AmeriKKKa today with its increasing symptoms of culturally induced pathology such as an escalating suicide rate, teen pregnancies and single parent households, fratricide, substance abuse and dependency, chronic depression and a growing sense of hopelessness, impotence and nihilism that are in many ways indicative of our lost sense of self and poor self-esteem.

hooks is wise enough to realize that while self-esteem is subjective, and a prime determiner for the inner quality of one's life and is essential for a sense of adequacy, confidence and coping in a hostile world of racial oppression albeit a much different form of oppression than that experienced by past generations; individually and collectively we must develop a sense of positive race esteem if we are to become whole, self actualized personalities and communities. The book's 226 pages are an easy read, although much of the material may be painful, because of its candor.

Nevertheless it is well worth the endeavor. Rock My Soul: Black People and Self-Esteem is published by ATRIA Books and retails for $23, a mere pittance for the insight, healing and hope it offers.

*   *   *   *   *

bell hooks is a distinguished professor of English, cultural critic, feminist theorist, and writer, who divides her time among teaching, writing, and lecturing around the world. She is the author of more than twenty books and lives in New York City. Born in Hopkinsville, Kentucky in 1952, hooks, received her B.A. from Stanford University in 1973, her M.A. in 1976 from the University of Wisconsin and her Ph.D. in 1983 from the University of California, Santa Cruz. In her new book Rock My Soul hooks "rigorously examines and identifies the barriers -- political and cultural – that keep African Americans from emotional well-being. She looks at historical movements as well as parenting and how we make and sustain community. She discusses the revolutionary role preventative mental health care can play in promoting and maintaining self-esteem.

*   *   *   *   *'s 25 Best Selling Books



#1 - Justify My Thug by Wahida Clark
#2 - Flyy Girl by Omar Tyree
#3 - Head Bangers: An APF Sexcapade by Zane
#4 - Life Is Short But Wide by J. California Cooper
#5 - Stackin' Paper 2 Genesis' Payback by Joy King
#6 - Thug Lovin' (Thug 4) by Wahida Clark
#7 - When I Get Where I'm Going by Cheryl Robinson
#8 - Casting the First Stone by Kimberla Lawson Roby
#9 - The Sex Chronicles: Shattering the Myth by Zane

#10 - Covenant: A Thriller  by Brandon Massey

#11 - Diary Of A Street Diva  by Ashley and JaQuavis

#12 - Don't Ever Tell  by Brandon Massey

#13 - For colored girls who have considered suicide  by Ntozake Shange

#14 - For the Love of Money : A Novel by Omar Tyree

#15 - Homemade Loves  by J. California Cooper

#16 - The Future Has a Past: Stories by J. California Cooper

#17 - Player Haters by Carl Weber

#18 - Purple Panties: An Anthology by Sidney Molare

#19 - Stackin' Paper by Joy King

#20 - Children of the Street: An Inspector Darko Dawson Mystery by Kwei Quartey

#21 - The Upper Room by Mary Monroe

#22 – Thug Matrimony  by Wahida Clark

#23 - Thugs And The Women Who Love Them by Wahida Clark

#24 - Married Men by Carl Weber

#25 - I Dreamt I Was in Heaven - The Rampage of the Rufus Buck Gang by Leonce Gaiter


#1 - Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention by Manning Marable
#2 - Confessions of a Video Vixen by Karrine Steffans
#3 - Dear G-Spot: Straight Talk About Sex and Love by Zane
#4 - Letters to a Young Brother: MANifest Your Destiny by Hill Harper
#5 - Peace from Broken Pieces: How to Get Through What You're Going Through by Iyanla Vanzant
#6 - Selected Writings and Speeches of Marcus Garvey by Marcus Garvey
#7 - The Ebony Cookbook: A Date with a Dish by Freda DeKnight
#8 - The Isis Papers: The Keys to the Colors by Frances Cress Welsing
#9 - The Mis-Education of the Negro by Carter Godwin Woodson

#10 - John Henrik Clarke and the Power of Africana History  by Ahati N. N. Toure

#11 - Fail Up: 20 Lessons on Building Success from Failure by Tavis Smiley

#12 -The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander

#13 - The Black Male Handbook: A Blueprint for Life by Kevin Powell

#14 - The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates by Wes Moore

#15 - Why Men Fear Marriage: The Surprising Truth Behind Why So Many Men Can't Commit  by RM Johnson

#16 - Black Titan: A.G. Gaston and the Making of a Black American Millionaire by Carol Jenkins

#17 - Brainwashed: Challenging the Myth of Black Inferiority by Tom Burrell

#18 - A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose by Eckhart Tolle

#19 - John Oliver Killens: A Life of Black Literary Activism by Keith Gilyard

#20 - Alain L. Locke: The Biography of a Philosopher by Leonard Harris

#21 - Age Ain't Nothing but a Number: Black Women Explore Midlife by Carleen Brice

#22 - 2012 Guide to Literary Agents by Chuck Sambuchino
#23 - Chicken Soup for the Prisoner's Soul by Tom Lagana
#24 - 101 Things Every Boy/Young Man of Color Should Know by LaMarr Darnell Shields

#25 - Beyond the Black Lady: Sexuality and the New African American Middle Class  by Lisa B. Thompson

*   *   *   *   *

Salvage the Bones

A Novel by Jesmyn Ward

On one level, Salvage the Bones is a simple story about a poor black family that’s about to be trashed by one of the most deadly hurricanes in U.S. history. What makes the novel so powerful, though, is the way Ward winds private passions with that menace gathering force out in the Gulf of Mexico. Without a hint of pretension, in the simple lives of these poor people living among chickens and abandoned cars, she evokes the tenacious love and desperation of classical tragedy. The force that pushes back against Katrina’s inexorable winds is the voice of Ward’s narrator, a 14-year-old girl named Esch, the only daughter among four siblings. Precocious, passionate and sensitive, she speaks almost entirely in phrases soaked in her family’s raw land. Everything here is gritty, loamy and alive, as though the very soil were animated. Her brother’s “blood smells like wet hot earth after summer rain. . . . His scalp looks like fresh turned dirt.” Her father’s hands “are like gravel,” while her own hand “slides through his grip like a wet fish,” and a handsome boy’s “muscles jabbered like chickens.” Admittedly, Ward can push so hard on this simile-obsessed style that her paragraphs risk sounding like a compost heap, but this isn’t usually just metaphor for metaphor’s sake. She conveys something fundamental about Esch’s fluid state of mind: her figurative sense of the world in which all things correspond and connect. She and her brothers live in a ramshackle house steeped in grief since their mother died giving birth to her last child. . . . What remains, what’s salvaged, is something indomitable in these tough siblings, the strength of their love, the permanence of their devotion.—WashingtonPost

*   *   *   *   *

Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in America

By Melissa V. Harris-Perry

According to the author, this society has historically exerted considerable pressure on black females to fit into one of a handful of stereotypes, primarily, the Mammy, the Matriarch or the Jezebel.  The selfless Mammy’s behavior is marked by a slavish devotion to white folks’ domestic concerns, often at the expense of those of her own family’s needs. By contrast, the relatively-hedonistic Jezebel is a sexually-insatiable temptress. And the Matriarch is generally thought of as an emasculating figure who denigrates black men, ala the characters Sapphire and Aunt Esther on the television shows Amos and Andy and Sanford and Son, respectively.     

Professor Perry points out how the propagation of these harmful myths have served the mainstream culture well. For instance, the Mammy suggests that it is almost second nature for black females to feel a maternal instinct towards Caucasian babies.

As for the source of the Jezebel, black women had no control over their own bodies during slavery given that they were being auctioned off and bred to maximize profits. Nonetheless, it was in the interest of plantation owners to propagate the lie that sisters were sluts inclined to mate indiscriminately.

*   *   *   *   *

The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

*   *   *   *   *

Ancient African Nations

*   *   *   *   *

If you like this page consider making a donation

online through PayPal

*   *   *   *   *

Negro Digest / Black World

Browse all issues

1950        1960        1965        1970        1975        1980        1985        1990        1995        2000 ____ 2005        


*   *   *   *   *

The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for Slavery / George Jackson  / Hurricane Carter

*   *   *   *   *

The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg

The Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804  / January 1, 1804 -- The Founding of Haiti 

*   *   *   *   *

*   *   *   *   *

ChickenBones Store (Books, DVDs, Music, and more)


update 3 March 2012




Home  Positively Black Table