180 Bell Hooks Quotes on Feminism, Racism, and Love

If you are looking for Bell Hooks quotes that’ll empower you and remind you of your value, then this list is for you!

Gloria Jean Watkins is an American author, lecturer, feminist, and social activist. She goes by the pen name “bell hooks,” inspired by her grandmother’s name. 

In her works, she explained why some people behave in specific ways.

She also has a significant influence on the movement to empower women. You should check the complete list below for more insightful quotes from this great woman. 

Start reading here.

And don’t forget to check out these Audre Lorde quotes and Angela Davis quotes.

Best Bell Hooks Quotes

1. “Love is a combination of care, commitment, knowledge, responsibility, respect, and trust.”

2. “If the first woman they passionately loved—the mother—was not true to her bond of love, then how can they trust that their partner will be true to love?”

3. “Because we have learned to believe negativity is more realistic, it appears more real than any positive voice.”

4. “If we want a beloved community, we must stand for justice.”

5. “Will also implies choice. We do not have to love. We choose to love.”

6. “When we face pain in relationships, our first response is often to sever bonds rather than to maintain commitment.”

7. “Feminist politics aims to end domination, to free us to be who we are—to live lives where we love justice, where we can live in peace.”

8. “If any female feels she needs anything beyond herself to legitimate and validate her existence, she is already giving away her power to be self-defining, her agency.”

9. “There can be no love without justice.”

10. “Honesty and openness is always the foundation of insightful dialogue.”

11. “For me, forgiveness and compassion are always linked—how do we hold people accountable for wrongdoing and yet at the same time remain in touch with their humanity enough to believe in their capacity to be transformed?”

12. “Young girls often feel strong, courageous, highly creative, and powerful until they begin to receive undermining sexist messages that encourage them to conform to conventional notions of femininity. To conform, they have to give up power.”

13. “But love is really more of an interactive process. It’s about what we do, not just what we feel. It’s a verb, not a noun.”

14. “What we do is more important than what we say or what we say we believe.” 

15. “If we give our children sound self-love, they will be able to deal with whatever life puts before them.”

Famous Bell Hooks Quotes 

16. “There is light in darkness. You just have to find it.”

17. “Abuse and neglect negate love. Care and affirmation—the opposite of abuse and humiliation—are the foundation of love. No one can rightfully claim to be loving when behaving abusively.”

18. “If I do not speak in a language that can be understood, there is little chance for a dialogue.”

19. “Hope is essential to any political struggle for radical change when the overall social climate promotes disillusionment and despair.”

20. “People with healthy self-esteem do not need to create pretend identities.”

21. “We yearn to end the lovelessness that is so pervasive in our society.”

22. “When we only name the problem, when we state a complaint without a constructive focus or resolution, we take hope away. In this way, critique can become merely an expression of profound cynicism, which then works to sustain dominator culture.”

23. “The heart of justice is truth-telling, seeing ourselves and the world the way it is rather than the way we want it to be.”

24. “To build community requires vigilant awareness of the work we must continually do to undermine all the socialization that leads us to behave in ways that perpetuate domination.”

25. “Genuine love is rarely an emotional space where needs are instantly gratified. To know love, we have to invest time and commitment—’dreaming that love will save us, solve all our problems or provide a steady state of bliss or security only keeps us stuck in wishful fantasy, undermining the real power of love—which is to transform us.’ Many people want love to function like a drug, giving them an immediate and sustained high. They want to do nothing, just passively receive the good feeling.”

26. “I will not have my life narrowed down. I will not bow down to somebody else’s whim or to someone else’s ignorance.”

27. “The word ‘love’ is most often defined as a noun, yet all the more astute theorists of love acknowledge that we would all love better if we used it as a verb.”

28. “The practice of love is the most powerful antidote to the politics of domination.”

29. “I really like to stay in my nest and not move. I travel in my mind, and that’s a rigorous state of journeying for me.”

30. “Usually, adult males who are unable to make emotional connections with the women they choose to be intimate with are frozen in time, unable to allow themselves to love for fear that the loved one will abandon them.”

Motivational Bell Hooks Quotes

31. “What we cannot imagine cannot come into being.”

32. “The ability to critique oneself and change and to hear critique from others is the condition of being that makes us capable of responsibility.”

33. “The political core of any movement for freedom in society has to have the political imperative to protect free speech.”

34. “Sometimes, people try to destroy you, precisely because they recognize your power—not because they don’t see it, but because they see it and they don’t want it to exist.”

35. “The rage of the oppressed is never the same as the rage of the privileged.”

36. “To teach in a manner that respects and cares for the souls of our students is essential if we are to provide the necessary conditions where learning can most deeply and intimately begin.”

37. “The moment we choose to love, we begin to move towards freedom, to act in ways that liberate ourselves and others.”

38. “To counter the fixation on a rhetoric of victimhood, Black folks must engage in a discourse of self-determination.”

39. “When we love children, we acknowledge by our every action that they are not property, that they have rights—that we respect and uphold their rights.”

40. “As we search as a nation for constructive ways to challenge racism and White supremacy, it is absolutely essential that progressive female voices gain a hearing.”

41. “Imagine how much easier it would be for us to learn how to love if we began with a shared definition.”

42. “Since the notion that we should all forsake attachment to race and, or cultural identity and be ‘just humans’ within the framework of White supremacy has usually meant that subordinate groups must surrender their identities, beliefs, values, and assimilate by adopting the values and beliefs of privileged-class Whites, rather than promoting racial harmony, this thinking has created a fierce cultural protectionism.”

43. “Wisely, Baldwin insisted that we are always more than our pain. Not only did he believe in our capacity to love, he felt Black people were uniquely situated to risk loving because we had suffered.”

Short but Profound Bell Hooks Quotes

44. “Feminism is for everybody.”

45. “Patriarchy has no gender.”

46. “Love is an action, never simply a feeling.”

Bell Hooks Quotes on Identity and Self-Worth

47. “Living simply makes loving simple.”

48. “Isolation and loneliness are central causes of depression and despair.”

49. “One of the best guides to how to be self-loving is to give ourselves the love we are often dreaming about receiving from others.”

50. “Contrary to what we may have been taught to think, unnecessary and unchosen suffering wounds us but need not scar us for life. It does mark us. What we allow the mark of our suffering to become is in our own hands.”

51. “I think stress is anything going on in our lives that impinges on our capacity to have optimum well-being.”

52. “I thought about how we need to make children feel that there are times in their lives when they need to be alone and quiet and to be able to accept their aloneness.”

53. “It’s in the act of having to do things that you don’t want to that you learn something about moving past the self. Past the ego.”

54. “The one person who will never leave us, whom we will never lose, is ourselves. Learning to love our female selves is where our search for love must begin.”

55. “Women are often belittled for trying to resurrect these men and bring them back to life and to love.”

56. “If an individual is not successful in emotionally crippling himself, he can count on patriarchal men to enact rituals of power that will assault his self-esteem.”

57. “I think the truth is that finding ourselves brings more excitement and well-being than anything romance has to offer, and somewhere we know that.”

58. “The wounded heart learns self-love by first overcoming low self-esteem.”

59. “When we can see ourselves as we truly are and accept ourselves, we build the necessary foundation for self-love.”

60. “Do not expect to receive the love from someone else you do not give to yourself.”

61. “When we work with love we renew the spirit; that renewal is an act of self-love, it nurtures our growth. It’s not what you do but how you do it.”

62. “The wounded child inside many males is a boy who, when he first spoke his truths, was silenced by paternal sadism, by a patriarchal world that did not want him to claim his true feelings.”

Bell Hooks Quotes About Love

63. “Love is an act of will—namely, both an intention and an action.”

64. “Love as ‘the will to extend one’s self for the purpose of nurturing one’s own or another’s spiritual growth.’”

65. “We still hope that love will prevail. We still believe in love’s promise.”

66. “The practice of love offers no place of safety. We risk loss, hurt, pain. We risk being acted upon by forces outside our control.”

67. “True love is a different story. When it happens, individuals usually feel in touch with each other’s core identity.”

68. “A major part of love is commitment. If we are committed to someone, if I’m committed to loving you, then it’s not possible for me to ‘fall out of love.’”

69. “All too often, women believe it is a sign of commitment, an expression of love, to endure unkindness or cruelty, to forgive and forget. In actuality, when we love rightly we know that the healthy, loving response to cruelty and abuse is putting ourselves out of harm’s way.”

70. “I love my family, even as I critique their dysfunctionalities.”

71. “The people I love, I’m committed to loving for the rest of my life.”

72. “Love is profoundly political. Our deepest revolution will come when we understand this truth.”

73. “True love does have the power to redeem but only if we are ready for redemption. Love saves us only if we want to be saved.”

74. “Individuals who want to believe that there is no fulfillment in love, that true love does not exist, cling to these assumptions because this despair is actually easier to face than the reality that love is a real fact of life but is absent from their lives.”

75. “When we choose to love, we choose to move against fear, against alienation and separation. The choice to love is a choice to connect, to find ourselves in the other.”

76. “Redeemed and restored, love returns us to the promise of everlasting life. When we love we can let our hearts speak.”

77. “The light of love is always in us, no matter how cold the flame. It is always present, waiting for the spark to ignite, waiting for the heart to awaken.”

Bell Hooks Quotes That Will Give You Insight Into the Truth

78. “The power of patriarchy has been to make maleness feared and to make men feel that it is better to be feared than to be loved. Whether they can confess this or not, men know that just is not true.”

79. “Lies may make people feel better, but they do not help them to know love.”

80. “Every terrorist regime in the world uses isolation to break people’s spirits.”

81. “When men and women punish each other for truth-telling, we reinforce the notion that lies are better.”

82. “To be loving we willingly hear the other’s truth, and most importantly, we affirm the value of truth-telling.”

Bell Hooks Quotes on Relationships and Commitments

83. “If only one party in the relationship is working to create love, to create the space of emotional connection, the dominator model remains in place and the relationship just becomes a site for continuous power struggle.”

84. “As females in a patriarchal culture, we were not slaves of love; most of us were and are slaves of longing—yearning for a master who will set us free and claim us because we cannot claim ourselves.”

85. “To love well is the task in all meaningful relationships, not just romantic bonds.”

86. “Think of all the women you know who will not allow themselves to be seen without makeup. I often wonder how they feel about themselves at night when they are climbing into bed with intimate partners. Are they overwhelmed with secret shame that someone sees them as they really are? Or do they sleep with rage that who they really are can be celebrated or cared for only in secret?”

87. “Significantly, romantic friendships can coexist with the fact of partners’ marrying because their reason for being is not to replace marriage but to open the possibility of sustained, committed true love existing among friends, and not just same-sex friends.”

88. “Since loving is about knowing, we have more meaningful love relationships when we know each other and it takes time to know each other.”

89. “I believe that it is impossible for two individuals not committed to their own and each other’s well-being to sustain a healthy and enduring relationship.”

90. “While the rejected adolescent boy imagines that he can no longer receive his mother’s love because he is not worthy, as a grown man he may act out in ways that are unworthy and yet demand of the woman in his life that she offer him unconditional love.”

91. “This testing does not heal the wound of the past, it merely reenacts it, for ultimately the woman will become weary of being tested and end the relationship, thus reenacting the abandonment. This drama confirms for many men that they cannot put their trust in love. They decide that it is better to put their faith in being powerful, in being dominant.”

92. “Reviewing the literature on love I noticed how few writers, male or female, talk about the impact of patriarchy, the way in which male domination of women and children stands in the way of love.”

93. “Relationships are treated like Dixie cups. They are the same. They are disposable. If it does not work, drop it, throw it away, get another.”

94. “Knowing how to be solitary is central to the art of loving. When we can be alone, we can be with others without using them as a means of escape.”

95. “Most of us are unclear about what to do to protect and strengthen caring bonds when our self-centered needs are not being met.”

96. “To return to love, to get the love, we always wanted but never had, to have the love we want but are not prepared to give, we seek romantic relationships.”

Bell Hooks Quotes That Will Help You Understand Violence

97. “There is no life to be found in violence. Every act of violence brings us closer to death. Whether it’s the mundane violence we do to our bodies by overeating toxic food or drink or the extreme violence of child abuse, domestic warfare, life-threatening poverty, addiction, or state terrorism.”

98. “They find that they can engage in intimate violence with partners who respond to their acting out by trying harder to connect with them emotionally, hoping that the love offered in the present will heal the wounds of the past.”

99. “Any society based on domination supports and condones violence.”

100. “When we drop fear, we can draw nearer to people, we can draw nearer to the earth, we can draw nearer to all the heavenly creatures that surround us.”

101. “In a culture of domination, everyone is socialized to see violence as an acceptable means of social control.”

102. ”Whenever domination is present, love is lacking.”

Deep Bell Hooks Quotes on Feminism

103. “Visionary feminism is a wise and loving politics. It is rooted in the love of male and female beings, refusing to privilege one over the other.”

104. “Addressing the economic plight of women may ultimately be the feminist platform that draws a collective response.”

105. “When men embrace feminist thinking and practice, which emphasizes the value of mutual growth and self-actualization in all relationships, their emotional well-being will be enhanced.”

106. “Heightened awareness often gives the illusion that a problem is lessening. This is most often not the case. It may mean simply that a problem has become so widespread it can no longer remain hidden or be ignored.”

107. “Radical militant feminist believes that women of color and Black women, in particular, have written the cutting edge theory and really were the individuals who exploded feminist theory into the directions that have made it more powerful. So I see us as the leaders not just of Black people and Black women in terms of feminism but in terms of the movement as a whole.”

108. “Women will only be truly sexually liberated when we arrive at a place where we can see ourselves as having sexual value and agency irrespective of whether or not we are the objects of male desire.”

109. “Feminism as a theoretical enterprise is approached differently by Black women depending on where we are. There are more reformist Black women who tend to use the phrase ‘Black feminism.’”

110. “Masses of the people think that feminism is always only about women seeking to be equal to men. Their misunderstanding of feminist politics reflects the reality that most folks learn about feminism from patriarchal mass media.”

111. “The soul of feminist politics is the commitment to ending patriarchal domination of women and men, girls and boys.”

112. “Power feminism is just another scam in which women get to play patriarchs and pretend that the power we seek and gain liberates us.”

113. “It shows us that no matter how misguided feminist thinkers have been in the past, the will to change, the will to create the context for struggle and liberation, remains stronger than the need to hold on to wrong beliefs and assumptions.”

114. “The wounded child inside many females is a girl who was taught from early childhood that she must become something other than herself, deny her true feelings, in order to attract and please others.”

115. “If improving conditions in the workplace for women had been a central agenda for feminist movement in conjunction with efforts to obtain better-paying jobs for women and finding jobs for unemployed women of all classes, feminism would have been seen as a movement addressing the concerns of all women.”

116. “To maintain and satisfy greed, one must support domination. And the world of domination is always a world without love.”

117. “The feminist call was for women to embrace ways of seeing beauty and adorning ourselves that are healthy, life-affirming, and not overly time-time consuming.”

Interesting Bell Hooks Quotes About Education

118. “I’m so disturbed when my women students behave as though they can only read women, or Black students behave as though they can only read Blacks, or White students behave as though they can only identify with a White writer.”

119. “I have created a lifestyle that supports contemplation, service to words.”

120. “It’s really important to have life strategies and part of that is sort of knowing where you want to go so you can have a map that helps you to get there. And the traditional way tells us oh we get into school and someone else advises us, helps us, but that often does not work for African Americans female and male. Because what works for the dominant culture often does not work for us.”

121. “One of the most subversive institutions in the United States is the public library.”

122. “I celebrate teaching that enables transgressions—a movement against and beyond boundaries. It is that movement which makes education the practice of freedom.”

123. “Any woman who wishes to be an intellectual, to write non-fiction, to deal with theory, faces a lot of discrimination coming her way and perhaps even self-doubt because there aren’t that many who’ve gone before you. And I think that the most powerful tool we can have is to be clear about our intent. To know what it is we want to do rather than going into institutions thinking that the institution is going to frame for us.”

124. “The academy is not paradise. But learning is a place where paradise can be created.”

125. “Whether we’re talking about race or gender or class, popular culture is where the pedagogy is, it’s where the learning is.”

126. “Life-transforming ideas have always come to me through books.”

127. “Everything can be explained to the people, on the single condition that you want them to understand.”

128. “Class is more than money. Class is also about knowledge.”

129. “I knew that I wanted to follow their example and become a teacher who would help students become self-directed learners.”

130. “The true teacher is within us. A good teacher is someone who can help you to go back and touch the true teacher within because you already have the insight within you.”

Bell Hooks Quotes to Stop Racism and Inequality

131. “The process begins with the individual woman’s acceptance that American women, without exception, are socialized to be racist, classist and sexist, in varying degrees, and that labeling ourselves feminists does not change the fact that we must consciously work to rid ourselves of the legacy of negative socialization.”

132. “The White worker who has been displaced at General Motors has more in common with the displaced Black worker than those larger White CEO’s, and those Wall Street people who are determining their fate—whose thievery and greed is determining their fate.”

133. “If Black women stand strong, and our commitment is to ending domination, I know that I’m supporting Black males—Black children, male, and female, Black elderly—because, the bottom line is the struggle to end domination in all its forms.”

134. “No Black woman writer in this culture can write ‘too much.’ Indeed, no woman writer can write ‘too much.’ No woman has ever written enough.”

135. “Shaming is one of the deepest tools of imperialist, White supremacist, capitalist patriarchy because shame produces trauma and trauma often produces paralysis.”

136. “I am passionate about everything in my life—first and foremost, passionate about ideas. And that’s a dangerous person to be in this society, not just because I’m a woman, but because it’s such a fundamentally anti-intellectual, anti-critical thinking society.”

137. “No other group in America has so had their identity socialized out of existence as have Black women. When Black people are talked about the focus tends to be on Black men, and when women are talked about the focus tends to be on White women.”

138. “Certainly we can end racism with love. We can demand that the federal government change its emphasis on racial distinction.”

139. “In general, the mass media tell us that Black people are not loving, that our lives are so fraught with violence and aggression that we have no time to love.”

140. “Hip hop is diverse. But the White, capitalist producers and distributors of Hip hop are most interested in the Hip hop that is misogynist, that is Black-hating, that is pugilistic, that is to say all about fighting and war and killing and gangsterism.”

141. “To me, feminism is not simply a struggle to end male chauvinism or a movement to ensure that women will have equal rights with men; it is a commitment to eradicating the ideology of domination that permeates Western culture on various levels—sex, race, and class, to name a few—and a commitment to reorganizing U.S. society so that the self-development of people can take precedence over imperialism, economic expansion, and material desires.”

142. “We knew that there could be no real sisterhood between White women and women of color if White women were not able to divest of White supremacy if feminist movement were not fundamentally anti-racist.”

143. “We judge on the basis of what somebody looks like, skin color, whether we think they’re beautiful or not. That space on the Internet allows you to converse with somebody with none of those things involved.”

144. “As long as women are using class or race power to dominate other women, feminist sisterhood cannot be fully realized.”

145. “Critical interventions around race did not destroy the women’s movement; it became stronger.”

146. “Many of these men were radical thinkers who participated in movements for social justice, speaking out on behalf of the workers, the poor, speaking out on behalf of racial justice. However, when it came to the issue of gender, they were as sexist as their conservative cohorts.”

Bell Hooks Quotes on Community and Family

147. “A huge majority of parents use some form of physical or verbal aggression against children. Since women remain the primary caretakers of children, the facts confirm the reality that given a hierarchal system in a culture of domination which empowers females all too often they use coercive force to maintain dominance.”

148. “One of the most vital ways we sustain ourselves is by building communities of resistance, places where we know we are not alone.”

149. “Beloved community is formed not by the eradication of difference but by its affirmation, by each of us claiming the identities and cultural legacies that shape who we are and how we live in the world.”

Bell Hooks Quotes About Social Justice and Reality

150. “In that field of possibility, we have the opportunity to labor for freedom, to demand of ourselves and our comrades, an openness of mind and heart that allows us to face reality even as we collectively imagine ways to move beyond boundaries, to transgress.”

151. “Being oppressed means the absence of choices.”

152. “‘In order to love you, I must make you something else.’ That’s what domination is all about, that in order to be close to you, I must possess you, remake and recast you.”

153. “All too often, in our society, it is assumed that one can know all there is to know about Black people by merely hearing the life story and opinions of one Black person.”

154. “Sexism has never rendered women powerless. It has either suppressed their strength or exploited it.”

155. “The crisis facing men is not the crisis of masculinity, it is the crisis of patriarchal masculinity.”

156. “Most feminist groups began with women talking about how we saw ourselves and other women, how we acted. We openly confessed our fears and hatred of other women. We talked about how to combat jealousy, the politics of envy, and so on.”

157. “All our silences, in the face of racist assault, are acts of complicity.”

158. “To be truly visionary, we have to root our imagination in our concrete reality while simultaneously imagining possibilities beyond that reality.”

159. “Imagine living in a world where there is no domination, where females and males are not alike or even always equal, but where a vision of mutuality is the ethos shaping our interaction.”

160. “We have to constantly critique imperialist White supremacist patriarchal culture because it is normalized by mass media and rendered unproblematic.”

161. “The most basic activism we can have in our lives is to live consciously in a nation living in fantasies. Living consciously is living with a core of healthy self-esteem. You will face reality, you will not delude yourself.”

162. “The greatest movement for social justice our country has ever known is the civil rights movement and it was totally rooted in a love ethic.”

Bell Hooks Quotes on the Power of Mass Media and Arts

163. “An often-repeated assertion in the body of film criticism I have written is the assertion that movies do not just mirror the culture of any given time; they also create it.”

164. “Using pseudonyms was such a part of the early feminist movement. We didn’t want to have this star system. We wanted attention on the ideas, not the persona of the writer.”

165. “Some people act as though art that is for a mass audience is not good art, and I think this has been a very negative thing. I know that I have wanted very much to write books that are accessible to the widest audience possible.”

166. “Since anti-racist individuals did not control mass media, the media became the primary tool that would be used and is still used to convince Black viewers, and everyone else, of Black inferiority.”

Bell Hooks Quotes to Remind You of the Importance of Freedom

167. “Men do not wound women only when they act violently and abusively. They wound us when they fail to protect our freedom in every aspect of our daily lives.”

168. “A genuine feminist politics always brings us from bondage to freedom, from lovelessness to loving.”

169. “Our freedom is sweet. It will be sweeter when we are all free.”

Bell Hooks Quotes on Writing and Reading

170. “I began writing a book on love because I felt that the United States is moving away from love.”

171. “I’ve written 18 books, mostly dealing with issues of social justice, ending racism, feminism, and cultural criticism.”

172. “I told my parents when I was 12, I’d be a writer.”

173. “My idea of a delicious time is to read a book that is wonderful. But the ruling passion of my life is being a seeker after truth and the divine.”

Bell Hooks Quotes to Help You Change for the Better

174. “You can only realize change if you live simply. Once people want enormous excess, you can hardly do social change.”

175. “Privilege is not in and of itself bad; what matters is what we do with privilege.”

176. “True resistance begins with people confronting pain—and wanting to do something to change it.”

177. “Feminist thinking teaches us all, especially, how to love justice and freedom in ways that foster and affirm life.”

178. “I want there to be a place in the world where people can engage in one another’s differences in a way that is redemptive, full of hope and possibility.”

179. “To live fixated on the future is to engage in psychological denial.”

180. “Once you do away with the idea of people as fixed, static entities, then you see that people can change, and there is hope.”

What Do You Think About Gender Equality and the Rest of Bell Hooks’ Ideas?

The term “feminism” covers a wide range of topics. But Bell Hooks provided a detailed explanation of feminism and its goals. Her contribution to the discussion of racism, capitalism, and gender is remarkable. 

Feminism is a movement committed to putting an end to sexism, exploitation, and injustice. Women are thought to be weak and unfit to lead. That is why some people see feminism as a tool for women to gain dominance over males.

Through Bell Hooks, we learn to respect one another and to fill the world with love and trust. Let these quotes empower and remind you of your worth and rights as a person. 

Which of Bell Hooks’ quotes motivated you to achieve your goal? Let us know in the comments section below.


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Amy Finn

Hi. I'm Amy, the founder of this blog. I love quotes and enjoy sharing the best ones with you.

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