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Where We Stand: Class Matters
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Where We Stand: Class Matters

4.19  ·  Rating details ·  1,940 ratings  ·  156 reviews
Drawing on both her roots in Kentucky and her adventures with Manhattan Coop boards, Where We Stand is a successful black woman's reflection--personal, straight forward, and rigorously honest--on how our dilemmas of class and race are intertwined, and how we can find ways to think beyond them.
Paperback, 164 pages
Published October 6th 2000 by Routledge (first published January 1st 2000)
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bell hooks shares her upbringing and personal history with us in this book, and for that reason it is worth savoring. She has a very conversational style in this book; she is not writing a polemic. But she is teaching. This book reminds us that America does indeed have a class hierarchy, and indicates how that plays out for citizens.

hooks reminds us that in a culture where money is the measure of value, it is believed that everything and everybody can be bought. But money is not the standard wh
Feb 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I really loved this book – but I have enjoyed all of her books so far. Class is a particularly interesting subject for someone like hooks to tackle, as being both black and female means that there are really good reasons why she might not want to talk about class at all. It isn’t just Marx that says that class issues are key to fundamentally changing society, but even someone like Luhmann also claims that all other forms of disadvantage can be overcome without fundamentally changing society – bu ...more
Jul 11, 2007 rated it it was ok
Unfortunately, the incisive analyses of bell hooks' earlier books are replaced in this one by cliched, simplistic and repetitive statements and digressive personal narratives. I recommend this to readers who haven't given much thought to class and to its relationship to race in the US, but otherwise you're better off with the essays on class in her earlier collections (try Yearning or Killing Rage).
Nov 03, 2014 rated it it was ok
This may be one of the most frustrating books I’ve read in a long time. I was eager to read this as bell hooks is one of my favorite authors and the topic of class hits close to home, but this was just awful. hooks makes grand postulations throughout the entire text with pretty much no data citations (I’m not exaggerating. Data is seemingly not necessary or inconsequential even though the author is making broad claims about the U.S. population at large). I’m not saying everything needed data, bu ...more
May 20, 2010 rated it liked it
I confess I was looking forward to this like chocolate cake, been a bit blue lately, feeling all out of place in that way you do when you come from dirt poor and somehow end up doing a PhD, because in the academic 'us' and 'them', you know you come from the 'them' and proud of it to. And so you get that wtf am I doing feeling and I confess I read this not looking for answers everyone has to struggle for on their own, but a little solace and shared understanding. And I did find that, so much ring ...more
Oct 08, 2011 rated it liked it
bell hooks makes a lot of important points and connections in these essays on class, as well as on the intersections between class, race, and gender. However, I found it rather repetitive; since each chapter was apparently written as a separate essay it felt as if the same thing was said many times through-out the different essays. Within each essay, I sometimes felt that the writing meandered and it was difficult to follow the train of thought at times. This was my first book by bell hooks and ...more
Sep 19, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfic
"The call to live simply is not new news. It was a beacon light only a few years ago. And many of us embraced and remain faithful to communitarian values. Nothing threatens those values more than turning the poor into a predatory class to be both despised and feared..." (p. 48).

"Without education for critical consciousness that begins when children are entering the world of consumer capitalism, there will never be a set of basic values that can ward off the politics of predatory greed" (p. 88).

Jul 25, 2011 rated it really liked it
Her anger is palpable at times. It's a great book to begin to unpack your relationship to consumerism.
Apr 21, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: midd-sophomore
Though I liked this for the most part and found hooks' personal narrative fascinating, I found Chapter 7, entitled "The Me-Me Class: The Young and the Ruthless" to be just another run-of-the-mill old person complaining about the young, for example:

"In part, youth culture's worship of wealth stems from the fact that it is easier to acquire money and goods than it is to find meaningful values and ethics, to know who you are and what you want to become, to make and sustain and friends, to know love
William Thomas
Jul 03, 2009 rated it it was ok
a book that pretends to be an academic account of class in the united states as well as a study of class within the american society. however the book is nothing more than conjecture and personal accounting more than it is research and study. there is more rhetoric in this book than in any cornell west book i have ever read, which i thought would be hard to surpass, and which further separates the author from any academic rating with ethereal and undefined terms such as "a just society" and "jus ...more
Sep 20, 2012 rated it did not like it
I found Bell Hooks to be extremely repetitive and come across as angry more than analytical. While pushing for equality in racial classes, she seemed to be spiteful towards the people of color who had become successful and gained any sort of wealth. I would be curious to seek her opinion about Barak Obama and what it means for us to have a black president. It seems that she thinks those blacks who have risen to financial wealth have somehow betrayed the solidarity of the black cause. I became fu ...more
Brittany Brown
Bel Hooks blames the individual's desire to have joy in material things as the reason for class inequities. She unfairly judgemental and morally hierarchal. As someone who grew up poor, and changed class positions through education, I was often felt offended by Hook's narrow vision of what that transition should look like.

Classisms should be blamed on capitalism. This book did not do that.
Jun 13, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Probably the BEST book for anyone looking to be introduced to the intersection of race and class in our respective societies, at least, underneath the cloak of a white supremacist capitalist patriarchy that seeks to obscure its insidious forces we must be aware of our unique positions in it, and how we can think against the grain, formulate effective solutions towards community-building and interdependency not just between races but also across class itself (a category of living many of us do no ...more
Jan 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The beginning of this book actually angered me, but not for the reasons one might expect. I felt like it was an attack on me - a middle class white woman. Had it not been required for a graduate course, I might not have finished it - which would have been a tragedy. This is an emotional journey, and it is one that will really make the reader think about where they stand in society.
Barrett Brassfield
Sep 02, 2020 rated it really liked it
Previously I had only read poetry by bell hooks. Where We Stand: Class Matters was my introduction to her non fiction and hooks proves to be a gifted essay writer. This is a short book but one that constantly challenged the assumptions of this reader, for which I am thankful. The best kind of non fiction writing, even if I don't agree with everything, that's hardly the point, this short volume educates and dives deep into important matters consistently, especially the idea that America has an un ...more
Sep 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
The U.S. must confront our culture of greed and tolerance of poverty in order to sustain ourselves and our planet. Hooks' book moves the conversation beyond the lines drawn by the mass media.
Dec 27, 2016 rated it really liked it
Raw, honest, incisive social commentary supplemented with rich autobiographical details as hooks explores and shares her experiences and the subtle influences of class on a poor, black woman growing up in a nominally classless society. Hooks chooses this approach partly because she does not have the economic vocabulary to discuss the concept academically. But doing so would miss the point she is trying to make which is that class is not discussed in the Academy nor in the public square since in ...more
Jan 12, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2014
This book was given to me by my daughter and it was a superb Christmas present. Bell Hooks made me think. Since I live in Kenya I have been much more interested in class and its impact than when I lived in the US. In Kenya the striation by class is so much more obvious than in the US and the gap between rich and poor so much greater.

I was however challenged by her chapter on the politics of greed and agree with her assertion that greed has become the most common bond between many of the poor and
Oct 14, 2013 rated it really liked it
Where We Stand is a hard-hitting, raw, and honest exposition of bell hooks' experiences around class an its intersections with race, gender, power, etc. hooks chronicles her poor childhood growing up in rural Kentucky to an African-American family, and her subsequent rise to middle/upper-class through educational attainment.

Some themes I thought especially poignant were:

-The replication of oppressions: racism causes hooks' father to earn little money compared to white counterparts > he hoards m
DeMisty Bellinger
In this book, hooks recalls growing up poor and black in the American south. She says that it was perfectly fine to discuss race and to blame it for all problems financial, but it was never polite or acceptable to talk about money or the lack thereof. Class, too, was not in this group of people’s lexicon.

Even though they were poor, her family still managed to maintain a patriarchal household. Her mother did not work until the children were all teenagers, and of course her jobs only mimicked her
Mar 18, 2013 rated it really liked it
In Where We Stand, bell hooks (Gloria Watkins) examines class in American society, especially as it pertains to race and gender. This small book is comprised of a series of essays, each looking at class from a different angle - some are more personal, outlining hooks' own childhood and experiences as a black woman who moved from low-middle class to upper class, and others are more analytical, examining materialism, debt, real estate, feminism, and other elements of life impacted by class. Some o ...more
Dec 17, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: social-justice
Hooks is best when giving concrete examples, or sharing stories of her life. Here hooks raises questions that can't be dismissed, and she serves as a great example of someone who sacrificed to lead a different life than the one mapped out for her. The book is a little repetitive, and I wish she had tried harder to define class vs race vs region vs income. Still, a worthy read.
K. Zhou
Dec 18, 2015 rated it it was amazing
i found this book to be really helpful in my personal life as i attempt to figure out how to deal w. class and redistributing my limited income. bell hooks is really frank about the struggles w changing class statues throughout her life. i love her style of writing and the way she interweaves theory and narrative into a compelling read.
Nov 26, 2008 rated it it was amazing
This book made me aware of class and changed the way I thought about class in relation to other kinds of oppressions (race, gender, etc.). Reading this book became a pivotal moment in the development of the way I see and make sense of the world. I highly recommend it.
With bell hooks I am always excited when I like something of hers more than I liked the last thing I read by her. She really just knows how to nail it.
Rebecca Walker
Dec 25, 2008 rated it really liked it
Rereading as research. Remembering why I love bell hooks.
Jul 22, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: civil-rights
Great collection of essays by Bell Hooks on class and poverty. Plenty of personal background to drive her points home. Deals with consumerism, gentrification, racial segregation and white feminism.
Okay before I get my criticisms out, I'll quickly list the things I liked about this book. Firstly, the autobiographical sections on growing up poor were very interesting, and secondly, many of the observations Hooks makes about how contemporary (as of 2000 when this was written) western society functions are sound, although most of them were either really obvious, or things I'd read repeatedly elsewhere.

The problem is that my grievances with this text far outweighed the positive aspects. It is
Jennifer Jank
Nov 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
I finally got my September author in! It's a different book than the one I was planning to read, but I'm glad I read it anyway.

I have a few quibbles about the book, but on the whole it's very thought-provoking. She discussed her childhood in every chapter, which I could have done without (she did the repetition on purpose.) And one chapter seems to blame us nonbelievers for the decline in social mores, but later specifies that she wasn't.

Her experience is different from many academics' because s
Mar 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
bell hooks sets up a slow burn in this treatise on the ignored intersectional role that class plays in "classless" America. Blending her own experiences with academic scholarship, she creates a view of the melding of class, race, gender, and wealth that is at times uncomfortable to confront, but always compelling. Even though it was written almost 20 years ago, her points are painfully relevant to today's society. The housing crisis of 2009, for example, she basically predicted in her discussion ...more
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bell hooks (born Gloria Jean Watkins) is an African-American author, feminist, and social activist. Her writing has focused on the interconnectivity of race, class, and gender and their ability to produce and perpetuate systems of oppression and domination. She has published over thirty books and numerous scholarly and mainstream articles, appeared in several documentary films and participated in ...more

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