bell hooks Questions and Answers
by Gloria Watkins

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What is a summary of bell hooks's book Talking Back: Thinking Feminist, Thinking Black?

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bell hooks traces "talking back" to her childhood in the South, where it was considered not merely transgressive but an unacceptable and punishable act. Girls were especially not supposed to "talk back" or challenge authority, and hooks uses this biographical aspect to explore the role of speaking out as it relates more largely to oppressed groups. In the very first chapter she defines talking back as an "act of resistance" and "political gesture": a way of speaking truth to power (authority). It is also a means of creating a language of one's own; defining oneself in and through the act of refusing silence. Talking back in this sense is an enactment of authenticity and healing. She defines "talking back" in adulthood as the articulation of pain, as truth-telling.

She also links the struggle against silence as it pertains to scholarly language or discourse—the academic language she was required to learn during her graduate studies—and the difficulty of being able to use institutional...

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