“Her loss is incalculable”: Roxane Gay leads tributes to feminist author bell hooks

Written by Amy Beecham

The author and activist passed away at home on 15 December, surrounded by family and friends. 

Social media has been alight with tributes following death of prolific feminist, author and activist bell hooks, aged 69.

A press release from her niece, Ebony Motley, stated that hooks – real name Gloria Jean Watkins – was surrounded by her close friends and family at home when she died from an illness.

“The family of @bellhooks is sad to announce the passing of our sister, aunt, great aunt and great great aunt. The author, professor, critic and feminist made her transition early this am from her home, surrounded by family and friends,” read the tweet announcing the poet, social critic and professor’s passing.

hooks published more than 40 books, from poetry collection And There We Wept to 1981’s Ain’t I A Woman? Black Women And Feminism. In 2000, hooks published All About Love: New Visions, perhaps her best-known work, which explored “what causes a polarised society and how to heal the divisions that cause suffering”.

Following the news of her death, many took to social media to reflect on the impact hooks’ work had on their own lives, personally and professionally.

“Our nation lost a prolific author, activist, and trailblazer. bell hooks’ profound and positive influence will be with us for generations to come. May she rest in power,” wrote US Vice President Kamala Harris.

“Oh my heart. bell hooks. May she rest in power. Her loss is incalculable,” shared writer Roxane Gay.

Many Black female authors reflected on hooks’ impact on their own work, with author Bolu Babalola writing: “I am heartbroken. bell hooks’ words helped to make me the writer I am, taught me that there is no shame in centering love and tenderness, in approaching and embracing it. With ferocity. She is an everlasting force and blessing may she rest in perfect peace.

“bell hooks wrote directly for and to Black women, and it is a beautiful thing that everyone can learn from her, but her soul-filled love for us was so apparent in her work.”

Sharing a passage from an interview with hooks, filmmaker Ava DuVernay said: “bell hooks, your garden was dazzling and will continue to bloom. Thank you.”

“A truly incalculable loss. Rest in power, bell hooks,” tweeted MP Zarah Sultana. 

Activist Gina Martin also paid tribute, sharing: “The greats don’t go, they just pass on the work to us, leaving so much more than we had before them. ”

Others shared some of her most powerful writings in her honour. Bernice King, the daughter of civil rights leader Martin Luther King shared: “I’m talking about a love that is transformative, that challenges us in both our private and our civic lives.”

“Hope is essential to any political struggle for radical change when the overall social climate promotes disillusionment and despair,” quoted journalist Nadine White.

In a statement, hooks’ family shared how “proud” they were to “just call her sister, friend, confidant, and influencer.”

“The family is honoured that Gloria received numerous awards, honours, and international fame for her works as poet, author, feminist, professor, cultural critic and social activist.”

Images: Getty

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