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Rock My Soul

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About the Author

bell hooks is a cultural critic, a feminist theorist, and the renowned author of more than twenty books. A charismatic speaker, she divides her time between teaching, writing, and lecturing around the world. She lives in Kentucky and New York City.


Cultural critic hooks (Communion) is clearly on a mission-to end racism and sexism, heal wounded hearts, and have everyone practicing love. In her latest work, she examines the serious crisis of low self-esteem in the black community, maintaining that African Americans have dealt with this issue since the days of slavery. Her goal is to provide an antidote to a problem she feels has grown to epidemic proportions. In the early 1960s, it was assumed that racism was the primary factor creating low self-esteem, so positive images were created; the slogan "black is beautiful" and natural hairstyles became popular. Hooks begins with a discussion of a system called "shaming," which was imposed on those with dark skin by white Christians, undermining their self-esteem to this day. She also details how religion has played a crucial role in the historical development of self-esteem among African Americans, how addiction (to sugar, alcohol, tobacco, drugs, etc.) destroys it, and how chronic emotional pain prevents healthy self-esteem. Hooks concludes that blacks are experiencing a spiritual crisis and need a spiritual revolution to "reclaim the power of soul." This is an important and interesting topic, but the approach is too scholarly for the average reader. Recommended primarily for academic collections.-Ann Burns, "Library Journal" Copyright 2003 Cahners Business Information.

Maya Angelou Each offering from bell hooks is a major event, she has so much to give us. Publishers Weekly With each new book, hooks is deeply exploring the inner terrain of the black community....[Rock My Soul] is one of [her] best efforts in recent years.

Prolific cultural commentator hooks (Communion) returns with another timely, provocative book on a thorny issue currently being debated in the black community. While popular books by black conservatives place the lack of significant social progress squarely on the shoulders of African-Americans, hooks cleverly repositions the argument, stating articulately that the symptoms of the stagnation (e.g., violence, self-sabotage, malaise and symbolic suicide) are old challenges only intensified by ongoing government neglect, racism, psychological trauma and patriarchy. In typical hooks fashion, she employs diverse sources to provide support for her penetrating, frank views on the troubles that often block blacks from achieving healthy self-esteem. While she admits the power of white racism has lessened, she believes the transition from rigid segregation toward full integration has resulted in crippling emotional and psychological trauma, breeding fear, paranoia, self-hatred, self-doubt and addiction as blacks try to emulate whites and compete in the workplace. Her take on how revised mental health approaches can ease some of these ills is worthwhile and informative. Despite a tendency to repeat some key points, hooks is especially effective when she addresses the devastating toll of low self-esteem and self-hate on black women and families, linking much of the damage to traditional and religious values. With each new book, hooks is deeply exploring the inner terrain of the black community, calling for a return to sound values, self-love and commonsense solutions while seeking new ways to cope with a modern world gone slightly mad. Overall, this is one of hooks's best efforts in recent years. (Jan. 1) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.

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