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Sisters of the Yam: Black Women and Self-Recovery

4.44  ·  Rating details ·  833 ratings  ·  82 reviews
When Sisters of the Yam: Black Women and Self-Recovery was originally released in 1994, it won critical praise and solidified bell hooks’ reputation as one of the leading public intellectuals of her generation. Today, the book is considered a classic in African American and feminist circles.

In Sisters of the Yam, hooks examines how the emotional health of black women is wo
Paperback, 200 pages
Published January 1st 2005 by South End Press (first published April 1st 1993)
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Oct 05, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: feminism, race

I am a huge fan of this woman. I find so much healing and understanding in her words. I admire her candidness in acknowledging issues that are often just swept under the rug. She is one of the first academics I came across who considers the black experience in fields that often take the human condition as a homogeneous one. I feel so many black women would appreciate this book so much. Alongside Alice Walker's books, this is a good companion for black women's self-actualization, and the realizat
Sep 16, 2010 added it
I had the honor of having Gloria Watkins ("bell hooks") as a professor at Yale. I was actually one of the Sisters of the Yams, a group on campus. I come back to this book often. The main lesson I got from this book is that if you are not happy in a place, get up and leave. It's the way I live my life. Definitely a great read.
Stephanie Spines
Feb 21, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favourites, own

As a long-time bell hooks fan, it took me a while to read this one. I was in search of a self-help style book and had tried a few out when I realized that none of them adequately reflected my experiences as a black woman. Why I hadn't turned to hooks sooner is beyond me. While the book doesn't PERFECTLY reflect my experience, since hooks is of African-American heritage and I myself am of Caribbean heritage, and since hooks was raised poor while I experienced a degree of class privilege
chantel nouseforaname
Yo what can I say! Sister bell hooks is a legend. This book dropped gem after gem. So much quality content. Like real talks, if you're a sister on a spiritual journey, get into this. I try to separate the people from the text where I can because if you follow all the stories about people it'll fuck with your head. However, what I will say is that the content in this book is a necessary must read for my black women who are feeling out of sorts. It's a great place to centre and organize just for y ...more
Jan 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is a hard book to rate. I'm not sure why? Maybe because it's not really about enjoyment, it's about life and how to weave through the layers of injustice, abuse, confusion, and fear to live with awareness and confidence and love, in community. In particular, this book is for black women - grand and great-grand children of American slavery and apartheid. Broadly, anyone can take from it hook's wisdom and sisterly care. Also, I appreciated how ms. hooks quotes from and draws on so many works ...more
Apr 22, 2009 rated it it was amazing
A self-help book geared specifically towards black women - it's about time! What a phenomenal book and incredible woman. I'm sure this work has helped a lot of black women in their self-recovery process. What I don't understand is why more books like this don't exist.

hooks's caring and insight make reading this book an enlightening experience. Even if you don't agree with everything she has to say, there is at least one thing you can relate to.

Recommend it to sistas worldwide!
Helena Brantley
Oct 22, 2012 rated it really liked it
I first read Sisters of the Yam in my 20's and for years it lived on my nightstand. Nearly 20 years later, it has been eye-opening to re-read the pages I highlighted back then and how large parts of this book are still relevant and helpful. With so many recent headlines about feminist thoughts, anniversaries, leaning in, and leaning out, much of it omitting issues of race and class, I wanted to re-read this book about feminism and about healing from a black women's perspective. I continue to giv ...more
Feb 01, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone
Recommended to Samara by: Jackie Boleware
My friend Jackie recommended this book so many years ago. Yet, it is a standout and a "must read" for all women of color. Self love is s crucial to our well being. bell hooks continues to uplift and support "the sisterhood."
Never Without a Book
Aug 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Wow, what a book! It's a bit out dated but still much of what bell mentions is still relevant today. Over all 4.5stars.
This book is amazing, as it forces me to look in the mirror to address trauma as I journey to infinite healing. It’s like the Auntie that really wants you to be healed and move onward with your life.
Jul 27, 2009 rated it really liked it
recovery for all...and thoughts for a new path forward
Jul 06, 2010 rated it it was amazing
A must read for all Black women.
Kay F.
Dec 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“The art and practice of loving begins with our capacity to recognize and affirm ourselves.”

Everyone should read this book.
Kayla Brooks
Exceptionally written self-help for book for black women. It is comprehensive and deep, and yet approachable for the reader. hooks explores are trauma and is honest about what it will take for us to heal.
Dec 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Excellent book. I have been interested in hooks’ writing about recovery and healing, and of recovery literature.
May 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I'm not sure if I can articulate how important this book is to me, especially at this particular moment. I read Sisters Of The Yam at a time where I have to make a decision that will have a lasting impact- choice to further education, apply for a new position, or attempt both. Reviewing a passage from chapter 3 from a sister who was interviewed " you don't just work to get money, you work to create meaning for yourself and other people" is affirming my personal beliefs that one should never let ...more
Rachel Atakpa
Jul 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
imperative read for everyone.

engages mental illness, ecology, addiction, right livelihood (work/labor), beauty, reconciliation, etc.

names a nexus of critical affirmation, communal survival, regeneration, and love as self-recovery

“when we choose to heal, when we choose to love, we are choosing liberation.”

Jul 26, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: sistas... and those who care about our wellness and love us... and change agents in general
womanist theology at its best. this book has healing power. i refer to it again and again, to remain empowered, focused, strong, and loving... the perfect merging of political call to action and self-help book. hooks is amazing.
Travis Martin
really thought-provoking. (secretly i used this to bait feminist black girls on the subway. no one bit!)
Jul 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
A smart read, I wouldnt suggest trying to read it in one sitting. I would also suggest journaling your thoughts after each chapter.
Really great book to help with self-reflection and healing.
Tifanny Burks
Jul 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book was everything I needed it to be and more. I suffer from severe depression but I don’t use medication or see a therapist therefore I practice affordable and holistic ways to take care of my mental health and reading is one of my healing methods.

This is not your typical capitalistic white-supremacist self-help book. I am actually more inclined to called it an inner-help book, the author talked a lot about inner-love versus self-love. Inner-love talks about personal healing, once you he
Maija Hall
Mar 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
So many insightful takeaways from Sisters of the Yam and ideas to chew on! hooks uses an array of references to Black women's fiction, self-help concepts and spiritual theory to highlight the critical relationship between self-actualization and political resistance. She tackles Black family dynamics, spirituality, sex and sexuality, and the experiences of Black women who internalize and metabolize pain and suffering as an identity and practice. This is a must read for anyone (not just Black wome ...more
B Sarv
Dec 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I read this book and found it to be the most enlightening book since I finished Baldwin's "No Name in the Street." This mind-opening book, subtitled "black women and self recovery" really is a book everyone should read. It was written about 20 years after Baldwin's work mentioned above and is even more relevant today so many years later. It is a manual for resistance against the forces of domination. We must all resist. Let this book help you.
Aug 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
"Internalizing racist thinking or attempting to cavalierly subvert it, many black people tend to see us as having an edge on “silly” white people who have all these mental health problems and need therapy. Our edge, our one claim to superiority, is supposedly that we do not suffer mental illnesses. Myths like this one make it nearly impossible for some black folks to face the fact that psychological dilemmas may be an important source of addictions."
Pat Jennings
Jan 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
bell hooks brings an awareness to black women and feminism in the most readable and succinct ways.
Her intelligent language but totally relatable material is a pleasure to read even though the truths she openly explores are painful at times. I am in awe of the way the spiritual, nature, and love needs of black women (well, all women) are explored. bell hooks understands the internal and the external work of black women. She is amazing in the way she can communicate the truth.
Gabrielle Cameron
Jan 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A lot of important information. I loved the information in this book and it’s truth. It is not just for black women though I recommend all black women read it. It also gave me a lot of books to add to my reading list. I’m very thankful I read it and I think all women should read it. Or everyone should read. It speaks on depression, over eating, everything that is normally not takes about in our community. A must read.
Mar 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
While I'm definitely not the target audience of this book, I really appreciated it. Her writing style flows wonderfully and she always connects ideas in a new and interesting way for me. I read bell hooks more interested in the historical/social analysis of rascism in her writings, but the way it was paired with the importance of self-care and personal recovery in this book was a new side of things I hadn't thought of before.
Jan 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
The most affirming self-help book I’ve read as a Black woman.

bell hooks work is so important for US. I gained a deeper understanding of how the collective anguish of being a Black woman impacts my mental health as well as a lot of practical methods for leading a life of love, communion, care of self, truth-telling forgiveness and recovery. Will definitely revisiting and wish I could’ve discovered this book sooner!
Alithia Toussaint
So many aha! moments.

Its hard to believe the level of severity that male supremacist domination plays in our lives as black women. I experience this in society and at home. I'm grateful for this book because it affirms that I am not crazy. This book gives me permission to truly own my experiences so I can heal from them. All of them
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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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“I mostly want to remind her of the recipes of healing, and give her my own made-on-the spot remedy for the easing of her pain. I tell her, “Get a pen. Stop crying so you can write this down and start working on it tonight.” My remedy is long. But the last item on the list says: “When you wake up and find yourself living someplace where there is nobody you love and trust, no community, it is time to leave town – to pack up and go (you can even go tonight). And where you need to go is any place where there are arms that can hold you, that will not let you go.” 49 likes
“No level of individual self-actualization alone can sustain the marginalized and oppressed. We must be linked to collective struggle, to communities of resistance that move us outward, into the world.” 2 likes
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