Feminist writer and cultural critic bell hooks was born Gloria Jean Watkins in Hopkinsville in 1952, one of seven children of an African-American custodian and his homemaker wife. The marriage was abusive, the society strictly segregated, and the family poor, and Gloria absorbed painful early lessons about the ways that gender, race, and class can impose roles and limit choices. But she also took inspiration from her familys love of words and from the strong black women in her life. Bone Black is her remembrance of those early years, though hardly a conventional memoir. Lacking dates, names, and places, it is instead presented as a series of individual impressionsdiscrete moments that stand out in memory because of the sight, sound, or touch they evoke or the wisdom they imparted. These simple stories, simply told, collectively tell how one girl child awakened both to the knowledge of how others would define her and to the possibility of redefining herself.
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