Breaking Bread with bell hooks: Holding My Sister's Hand
Nothing Ventured, Nothing Gained: "Feminist Scholarship: Black Scholars"

Battles Worth Waging: "Feminist Thinking: In the Classroom Right Now"

In this chapter, bell hooks addresses challenges that feminists face. Once overcome, the benefits would be legion. Women would become more empowered, more aware. They would (grow) in their feminist consciousness. The benefits extend to men, as well. She writes about a black male student in her African American literature class. He experienced an awakening when he learned about gender and feminist standpoints.
 
But there will be downsides. This process of feminist politicization requires new ways of seeing, talking, and thinking. Conflicts will ensue. She calls conflict a catalyst that can lead to new thinking and growth. To clarify her argument, she makes a distinction between the feminist classroom and a Women's Studies Course.
 
Among the issues she addresses: the accusation that feminism is a private cult. The perception that the feminist classroom is a site of conflict. That feminist thinking might change how women relate to fathers, lovers, and friends. That women might be isolated and attacked. These are formidable accusations.
 
These challenges are necessary, though. Ending sexism and racism will not happen overnight. Turning theory into praxis. Turning praxis into buy-in, execution, and evaluation. Dealing with both social and personal struggles. It will take time. It will take perseverance. It will take commitment. She says that the transformation of consciousness is the first stage of the process. If women can march past this first stage, they will hold the key to liberation.
 
My first step is awareness of issues that frame the discussion. This awareness will inform how I teach, structure, and manage future classes. When I teach a class of 120 students, I teach them as 120 individuals, not a block of 120 students. That’s not enough. I need to become more granular in the way I conceive and execute assignments, discussions, and assessments. My goals are not as lofty as hooks’ goals. As a teacher, though, they are no less important.
 
 
 
 
 

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Annemarie

This is such a challenge. How we get granular with the individuals in classes is something of a challenge for me. I think I'm better at fostering community, but not as good at connecting individually.

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