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Black Looks: Race and Representation

4.33  ·  Rating details ·  1,981 ratings  ·  85 reviews
In these twelve essays, bell hooks digs ever deeper into the personal and political consequences of contemporary representations of race and ethnicity within a white supremacist culture.
Paperback, 200 pages
Published July 1st 1999 by South End Press (first published May 25th 1992)
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Average rating 4.33  · 
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 ·  1,981 ratings  ·  85 reviews

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Apr 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019, recs
Wide ranging and full of insight, Black Looks critiques the many ways American pop culture exploits, oppresses, and dehumanizes Black people through stereotyped representations. Across twelve short essays hooks examines how pop music, advertising, literature, and, especially, film work in conjunction to frame Black people as hypersexual, violent, and primitive. Whether she’s deconstructing Madonna’s appropriation of Black gay culture or analyzing JCrew’s sinister use of Black models, hooks is co ...more
Jun 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Another iconic bell hooks book, this one about how American pop culture marginalizes, exploits, and stereotypes Black people across literature, music, and film. I love how hooks delivers sharp insight after sharp insight about race and representation without trying to make her writing palatable to white audiences. She delves deep into how white women often appropriate Black culture, how toxic masculinity within black communities perpetuates homophobia, misogyny, and racism, the shared oppression ...more
Jun 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: race, social-theory, media
This is exactly the book you should read – particularly if you live in the US, from what I’ve been reading of your police force and prison system. Now, as I said in my review of Real to Reel (that might be the other way around, of course, I haven’t checked) I don’t watch movies, especially not American movies. So a lot of this went over my head. But imagine if everytime you watched a movie, in the dark, alone, you were confronted by images of yourself as ugly, stupid, violent, wicked, sex obsess ...more
Feb 28, 2012 rated it really liked it
Why have I waited so long to read bell hooks? She explains white supremacy, internalized racism, the commodification & consumption of the Other, bullshit white liberal tolerance (reminding me that I need to check myself again & again), etc in such clear and accessible ways. This is how theory should be done.
Aug 21, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book has given me so much food for thought and has been a great jump-off point for furthering my understanding of race theory. As a result of reading this, I have been exposed to so many authors and filmmakers that I otherwise never would have discovered. I’m so excited to read about Edmonia Lewis { known for incorporating themes relating to black people and indigenous peoples of the Americas into Neoclassical-style sculpture] and pre-Columbian African Contact with the Americas {whattttttt! ...more
Dec 07, 2010 rated it liked it
bell hooks is amazing. I think I would have liked this book more if I got more of its pop culture references. It was written almost twenty years ago, so I haven't seen some of the movies, commercials, books, etc. it discusses. However, hooks' critiques and insights are incisive and profound. She breaks down racist and sexist messages in media and talks about Black and female self-hatred as tools of oppression. She turns the image of Madonna as a rebellious revolutionary on its head, arguing that ...more
Nov 28, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: feminism, favorites, race
Black Looks: Race and Representation is a collection of 12 essays by Bell Hooks looking at a range of issues including black sexuality, masculinity, commodification of black culture and black history, arising from representations of people of colour in a white supremacist capitalist patriarchy.

As a feminist, I think it is of vital importance to be aware of race issues and the way that women of colour have been silenced and marginalized by the movement. Its particularly important to me as a white
CW (The Quiet Pond) ✨
I owe bell hooks. I have owed bell hooks ever since my encounter with her writing in my final year in university, wherein we analyzed the importance of intersectionality and the potential problems of white feminism and how it has a tendency to be a form of cultural imperialism with the guise of 'equality'. In other words, I have loved bell hooks ever since her words empowered me as a PoC feminist.

Black Looks: Race and Representation by bell hooks contains 12 essays that centralize its focus and
Sep 17, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: feminist and feminist curious
bell hooks' most academic work, Black Looks, is also my favorite, although not necessarily because it is academic. In my favorite essay, Eating the Other: Desire and Resistance, hooks writes, "Within commodity culture, ethnicity becomes spice, seasoning that can liven up the dull dish that is mainstream white culture." The essay continues with more assertions, such as these, which I think easily extend to white members of radical communities. Also, extremely informative, Revolutionary "Renegades ...more
Jun 24, 2016 marked it as to-read
* 10 Unapologetic Books About Race in America

In this collection of essays, feminist icon and activist Bell Hooks examines the African American experience on topics ranging from black femininity to the commodification of black culture and history in popular narratives displayed in literature, fashion, popular culture, and more. She focuses on spectatorship and draws on personal experience in developing new ways to look at blackness, black subjectivity, and whiteness.
Jul 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The highest praise I can give this book (and also the saddest commentary on its subject matter) is that this is just as relevant in 2018 as it was when it was published in 1992.
Ayanna Dozier
Nov 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing
bell hooks remains one of the most underrated and overlooked scholars of our time. In the eight years that I have been in academia, I have only been assigned her readings twice! And that is not for a lack gender and critical race studies courses that I have taken during that time period. Black Looks: Race and Representation picks up where Audre Lorde's Sister Outsider left off. With Black Looks, hooks is once again probing the difficult position of examining difference within the framework of Bl ...more
Feb 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I am on a Bell Hooks train right now so I am currently reading a ton of her work and I have to say, these essays ARE incredible. As someone who is used to reading theory that can be convoluted and academic, Hooks is able to convey her opinions in a variety of essays that are tangible for anyone who takes the time to read them. Each essay left me with lasting gems so I will share some of my favorite moments from the essays. I enjoyed the essay, "Eating the Other", which delved into desire and res ...more
Jun 08, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: socio-historical and cultural critics
In this book, bell hooks has a piece on Madonna and why she's culturally insensitive and socially irresponsible. I first read that piece in 2001, well before her much-publicized and maligned baby-swiping. The essay is dated; it talks a lot about Truth Or Dare and Madonna's rise to stardom. And at the time, I thought, "She's definitely a poser, but I don't know if she's worth the vitriol, bell!"

Six years later, I absolutely believe she's worth the vitriol. And I say this as a fan.

This book is pr
Jan 31, 2011 rated it it was amazing
i just re-read this book since it was in my house and overdue to the library. just as awesome as i remembered. one bit that stood out to me, after participating in a gazillion conversations about oppression street cred and what it authorizes you to do (i.e. i grew up working-class, so i can buy a condo on the frontlines of gentrification, the end.) :

and indeed we must be willing to acknowledge that individuals of great privilege who are in no way victimized are capable, via there political choic
Aug 13, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: image makers
"The history of black liberation movements in the United States could be characterized as a struggle over images as much as it has also been a struggle for rights, for equal access." Amen I say and of course I extend this too all liberation movements collective and personal; in the cleverest of language she dissects the ways in which white mainstream captures and catalogues everyone and everything to the advantage only of white mainstream... but I think more importantly includes powerful and ins ...more
Spicy T AKA Mr. Tea
Another great bell hooks book! I really appreciated the first essay and and some in the back. My confession? Her essays on popular culture are somewhat less than interesting to me simply because the culture she's talking about is decades old--unless of course I've experienced the culture she's talking about. And if I take time to go back and look at the references--interesting stuff. But that doesn't always happen. My confession aside, I do recommend this book! ...more
Aug 17, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: african-american
Any bell hooks book is worth a read. In this collection of 12 essays hooks takes on popular music, advertising, literature, television, historical narrative, and film in an exploration of race, representation, and resistance. Should be required reading for the planet. Her perspective is fresh and stimulating and definitely against the grain.
ONTD Feminism
LJ user velvetlungs:

Good introductory work to bell hooks. She talks a lot of the intersectionality of feminism and race issues. Dissects African American sexuality and race in the modern media (at the time). I don't ALWAYS agree with her but she does raise some good points and makes you think.
Estelle McInnis
May 22, 2014 rated it it was amazing
excellent and unique critical analysis of culture, race, and gender. her theories expose a lot of the hidden mechanisms of colionalist thinking. she reveals how deeply entrenched we are in the hegemony of imperialist white supremacist capitalist patriarchy by deconstructing the extent to which these oppressive mechanisms become masked, normalized, and internalized.
Dee's Reading Zone
This was an excellent analysis on gender, race, and of course heritage. Bell Hooks' theories focused on 'the hidden standards' of thinking on race and how imperialists oppressed mankind. This was a deep read but so worth the knowledge given on how LIVES matters and how we as a people tend to repeat history with favoritism of race and gender.

5 scholarly stars *****
Genderqueer Chicago
Apr 08, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: anthology, theory
Among other interesting articles, this volume includes a scathing review and analysis of one of the biggest documentaries produced about gender variant people, Jennifer Livingston's 1991 documentary Paris Is Burning. ...more
Nov 30, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: novel
Only read chapter 3: "Revolutionary Black Women: Making Ourselves Subject", but then again, I limited myself to that chapter for an academic purpose. But I plan on going back and reading all the other chapters. For now, it's going on my "has been read" booklist.

Loving it!
Gray Gordon
Jul 10, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The essays about black subjectivity in 90s culture need an update. Otherwise, hooks’ unapologetic style and confidence season these essays with urgency and wit. The Oppositional Gaze is an all-time great piece of cultural criticism.
Sep 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
Very interesting, well thought out and written essays that feel timely even today. There's a lot that hasn't changed at all. I think many of these essays could be written now, which is depressing. ...more
Juliana Santos
Sep 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the best books I've read from bell hooks. ...more
gabrielle ✿
While so much of hooks’s writing is thoughtful, eye-opening, and engaging, I am truly disappointed by the latter half of the book and her espousal of Afrocentric hyperdiffusionism. For all her intelligence and insight regarding philosophy and literature, it’s a crushing let-down for the book to end on a conspiracy theory that she defends with a strawman; appropriation of Native American sociopolitical struggle; and a conspicuously biased perspective of history. The first half of her book deserve ...more
Dec 06, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: theory nerds with rhythm
A classic in cultural studies, you have to love a collection of essays that includes one called "Madonna: Sister or Plantation Mistress." And being a bunch of essays, it is well-suited to morning commutes or bedtime reading without feeling like being forced to put it down just when you are in the middle of good plot point. Hooks is pretty visionary to me in that in its day, "Black Looks" casted a critical eye at how black culture is appropriated and consumed, without limiting "blackness" to Afri ...more
Jan 06, 2012 rated it liked it
Bell Hooks is a great writer and the topics in this collection of essays are clearly demonstrated. As someone who does not watch many movies, the in-depth film analyses were slightly difficult to read. Yet I was still able to follow the thought process and came away with not just new ideas, but new thought processes.
Jun 01, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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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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