Bell Hooks Wisdom Bell Hooks  Research Proposal

Excerpt from Research Proposal :

(pp.45-58) Hooks also recognized that when integration occurred these change agents were alienated from black children and alienation and discrimination ensued, associated with being taught white history and democratic ideals, rather than reformation of education, which was the intention. (p. 3)

Both perspective childhood stories imply implicit as well as environmental (explicit) characteristics of wisdom, as Hooks acknowledges that she may have been singled out, as a child of a certain class, gender and race but it may have been because people recognized her implicit character of wisdom and potential. Hooks, by virtue of watching people in her own community live out characteristics of patriarchal ideals demonstrates wisdom far beyond the years she reflects upon. In this phenomena, as reflected by Bell Hooks' experiential learning and reflection, one can clearly see the implicit-explicit dichotomy, discussed in Sternberg and Jordan's a Handbook of Wisdom: Psychological Perspectives. In this work the idea of wisdom as something that is internal and external as well as innate and developed through life and learning experiences. (p. 89)

An insightful comment regarding the myth of progress in integration in education and elsewhere can be found in Hooks work, Where We Stand: Class Matters;

Along with the revamped myth that everyone who worked hard could rise from the bottom of our nation s class hierarchy to the top was the insistence that the old notions of oppressor class and oppressed class were no longer meaningful, because when it came to the issue of material longing, the poor, working, and middle classes desired the same things that the rich desired, including the desire to exercise power over others. What better proof of this could there be than calling attention to the reality that individuals from marginal groups who had been left out of the spheres of class power entered these arenas and conducted themselves in the same manner as the established groups -- "the good old boys." Once the public could be duped into thinking that the gates of class power and privilege were truly opened for everyone, then there was no longer a need for an emphasis on communalism or sharing resources, for ongoing focus on social justice. (Hooks, 2000, p. 66)

In many ways the wisdom of Hooks insight can be seen as self evident to the idea that contradictions that hold back society in broad and narrow context are seen everywhere and that integration of people, in the patriarchal hierarchical form is not a true representation of equality but an unfortunate stage in desensitizing the world to things that really matter, the ideals that they espouse but do not necessarily live by and might even alter with regard to assimilated perceived needs.

More importantly, there was ample evidence among token marginal individuals who entered the ranks of ruling class privilege that they, like their mainstream counterparts, could be bought -- could and would succumb to the corrupting temptations of greed. The way had been paved to bring to the masses the message that excess was acceptable. Greed was the order of the day, and to make a profit by any means necessary was merely to live out to the fullest degree the American work ethic. In relation to the poor and underclass, this permission to indulge in excess fostered and perpetuated the infiltration into previously stable communities, especially black communities, a predatory capitalist-based drug culture that would bring money for luxuries to a few, a symbolic ruling class. (hooks, 2000, p. 66)

Impetus for contradiction mongering are seen all over the culture, with regard to race, class and gender and Hooks' wisdom pervades these contradictions and challenges her readers and contemporaries to rethink what motivates their actions and the actions of others, to better meet the needs of society and allow everyone greater opportunity to succeed in a way and arena that is not supportive of the status quo.

Wisdom, according to Lawrence Hinman in Understanding Wisdom: Sources Science and Society the need to see the world in such a way that an individual can learn to become wise is essential to the development of wisdom, thus again supporting the implicit explicit dichotomy, which again is reflected in the manner in which Hooks, sees the world and learns and teaches within it. (p. 413-420)

Hooks' wisdom is again reflected in her ability to challenge preconceived notions of race, class and the dominant patriarchal society in a work that few individuals in this culture would be brave enough to write, or at least write in the manner which she did. The work itself is about African-American masculinity and how it evolved through oppression to match the ideal standards of white patriarchal society, as an oppressive and isolated source of power and freedom. Hooks notes that black men from Africa had to be enmeshed in the ideals of white patriarchal society in order to express this ideal as a standard for power and freedom.

When we read annals of history, the autobiographical writings of free and enslaved black men, it is revealed that initially black males did not see themselves as sharing the same stand-point as white men about the nature of masculinity. Transplanted African men, even those coming from communi- ties where sex roles shaped the division of labor, where the status of men was different and most times higher than that of women, had to be taught to equate their higher status as men with the right to dominate women, they had to be taught patriarchal masculinity. They had to be taught that it was acceptable to use violence to establish patriarchal power. The gender politics of slavery and white-supremacist domination of free black men was the school where black men from different African tribes, with different languages and value systems, learned in the "new world," patriarchal masculinity. (Hooks, 2004, pp. 2-3)

Violence for Hooks, was not an innate ideal of African male identities for the establishment of power, and this is especially true with regard to violence against women, that Hooks contends is learned behavior that has been significantly pervasive and destructive to black male identities since slavery.

Writing about the evolution of black male involvement in patriarchal masculinity in the essay "Reconstructing Black Masculinity" I write: Although the gendered politics of slavery denied black men the freedom to act as "men" within the definition set by white norms, this notion of manhood did become a standard used to measure black male progress. (Hooks, 2004, p. 3)

To support these observations, Hooks utilizes slave and free black narratives that seem to assimilate the ideals of the white oppressive patriarchal society in the same manner that poor people (in black communities) have embraced the white patriarchal ideals of excess and consumerism, even beyond their own means and to the point of their own destruction. The stark contrast of the ability of black men, as oppressed individuals to challenge those who displayed violence against women loved ones gave black men explicit permission to themselves engage in violence as a means of power attainment.

The narratives of Henry "Box" Brown, Josiah Henson, Frederick Douglass, and a host of other black men reveal that they saw "freedom" as that change in status that would enable them to fulfill the role of chivalric benevolent patriarch. Free, they would be men able to provide for and take care of their families. Describing how he wept as watched a white slave overseer beat his mother, William Wells Brown lamented, "Experience has taught me that nothing can be more heart-rending than for one to see a dear and beloved mother or sister tortured, and to hear their cries and not be able to render them assistance. But such is the position which an American slave occupies." Frederick Douglass did not feel his manhood affirmed by intellectual progress. It was affirmed when he fought man to man with the slave overseer. This struggle was a "turning point" in Douglass's life: "It rekindled in my breast the smoldering embers of liberty. It brought up my Baltimore dreams and revived a sense of my own manhood. I was a changed being after that fight. I was nothing before-I was a man now." (Hooks, 2004, p. 3)

Black men in short felt weak in comparison to white men and therefore learned and utilized their own tactics to respond to the helplessness of oppression, oppression which continues today as a development of class and race struggles, reduced opportunity and stereotyping. There are few scholars of race and power who would have the insight and bravery needed to make these claims within a society that so easily stereotypes and therefore negates black male expressions of violence.

Hooks, though does not stop here, as in her work Killing Rage: Ending Racism she challenges the learned behavior of her culture to blame white society and therefore reduce culpability for individual and collective actions that are contrary to disintegrating these patriarchal ideals and therefore all the violence and misunderstanding that goes with them. " We're just saying that he was…

Sources Used in Document:

Sources Science, and Society West Conshohocken, PA: Templeton Foundation Press

Carney Smith, J. & Phelps, S. (1996) Notable Black American Women Book II. Detroit, MI: Gale Research Inc.

Hooks, B. (2000). Where We Stand: Class Matters. New York: Routledge.

2004). We Real Cool: Black Men and Masculinity. New York: Routledge.

1981) Ain't IA Woman: Black Women and Feminism. New York: South End Press.

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