KILLING RAGE: Ending Racism by bell hooks

KILLING RAGE: Ending Racism

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Any new work by hooks (Art on My Mind, p. 534, etc.) is welcome, but her latest is a somewhat diffuse effort. From its promising two-edged title and an introduction in which hooks convincingly talks of the way in which black women are discouraged from ""talking race,"" one expects this to be another excellent counter to the welter of essentialist, identity-politics drivel that gets written on race all too often these days. And at many points, hooks delivers. She offers some cogent analyses of the interplay of black rage and white denial, urging people to move beyond mere anger to active opposition to the structures of white supremacy that govern this culture. She dismisses the mournful white voices who absolve themselves of blame by saying, ""It's a racist society. We're all racists,"" rather than struggling for change. On the other hand, this is an often infuriating book. While hooks is a master at weaving together a series of essays so that each flows into the next, too often these pieces feel underdeveloped. Tantalizing wisps of ideas are introduced but not followed, and a certain irritating tone of self-congratulation mars several pieces, most notably the essay ""Marketing Blackness,"" in which hooks pats herself on the back for being the only black intellectual she knows who is interested in addressing the role of class in black society. On the other hand, she really is one of the only writers and critical thinkers in America today who is addressing the race-class-gender nexus in such thoughtful and coherent terms, and the two essays that close the book are genuinely moving and insightful. Too often, Killing Rage feels like it's preaching to the choir, and a bit perfunctory at that, but there are some moments of real insight, as one would expect from hooks.

Pub Date: Sept. 19th, 1995
Page count: 224pp
Publisher: Henry Holt