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We Real Cool: Black Men and Masculinity [Paperback]

bell hooks
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)

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Book Description

November 14, 2003 0415969271 978-0415969277 0
"When women get together and talk about men, the news is almost always bad news," writes bell hooks. "If the topic gets specific and the focus is on black men, the news is even worse."

In this powerful new book, bell hooks arrests our attention from the first page. Her title--We Real Cool; her subject--the way in which both white society and weak black leaders are failing black men and youth. Her subject is taboo: "this is a culture that does not love black males:" "they are not loved by white men, white women, black women, girls or boys. And especially, black men do not love themselves. How could they? How could they be expected to love, surrounded by so much envy, desire, and hate?"

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We Real Cool: Black Men and Masculinity + The Will to Change: Men, Masculinity, and Love + All About Love: New Visions
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Veteran pundit hooks unpacks the explosive contents of Gwendolen Brooks's famous 1960 poem "The Pool Players: Seven at the Golden Shovel," taking her title from the opening of the poem. Like Brooks, hooks worries about the men in her life, black men experiencing crises of masculinity as prisoners (sometimes literally) of patriarchal imperialism. Hooks argues that black men have become chary of the simple goodness of being loved. From George Jackson's Soledad Brother to Stephen King's The Shawshank Redemption, hooks finds that black men are taught violence and aggression as the keys to survival, an ideology that is reified in the lucrative gangs-and-guns side of hip-hop music and culture. Mainstream culture inculcates fear of black men, rewarding them most when they act out the "Native Son" role of brutal psychopath to confirm that fear, … la the intensive media coverage of the Nicole Brown Simpson murder. Malcolm X, moving away from black separatism toward a politics of global justice, was gunned down by "state-supported black-on-black violence." Hooks attacks the stereotype of the older black woman as powerful matriarch, fiercely independent of men. In reality, she says, "most black women have been more than willing to surrender control over their hard-earned resources to the men in their lives: father, brothers, lovers, and husbands." Hooks, a writer of extraordinary skill, pads out her insights with lengthy quotations from many sources, which thin but don't fully dilute her revolutionary message of love.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Hooks asserts that black men have been so dehumanized that they are in crisis emotionally and at risk within society. Yet she posits that the greatest threat to black life in America is patriarchal thinking and practices. She points to the current instability of black male employment in contrast to improved employment opportunities for black women, something many black men have trouble accepting because of the cultural dictates that men should dominate women. Too many black men face a host of troubling social dynamics--including alienation from their fathers and their children. Hooks advises them to emulate the many black women who turn to self-examination and self-love and to break with the macho demands and values of a patriarchal culture. Although hooks is heavily feminist in her critique, her recollections of her own family experiences and growing up black in America reflect extraordinary insight into both our cultural frailties and our potential. Readers interested in black cultural issues from a feminist perspective will enjoy this book. Vernon Ford
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Product Details

  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Routledge (November 14, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0415969271
  • ISBN-13: 978-0415969277
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.2 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #330,272 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Bell Hooks is a cultural critic, feminist theorist, and writer. Celebrated as one of our nation's leading public intellectual by The Atlantic Monthly, as well as one of Utne Reader's 100 Visionaries Who Could Change Your Life, she is a charismatic speaker who divides her time among teaching, writing, and lecturing around the world. Previously a professor in the English departments at Yale University and Oberlin College, hooks is now a Distinguished Professor of English at City College and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. She is the author of more than seventeen books, including All About Love: New Visions; Remembered Rapture: The Writer at Work; Wounds of Passion: A Writing Life; Bone Black: Memories of Girlhood; Killing Rage: Ending Racism; Art on My Mind: Visual Politics; and Breaking Bread: Insurgent Black Intellectual Life. She lives in New York City.

Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
46 of 48 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars bell tells Ellis, "Go get me a switch!" December 24, 2003
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
In ten quick chapters, bell describes how black men hurt and how they can heal. This book was an interesting mix of chicken soup, history, and cultural criticism. For those who have been disappointed by bell's recent books on love and autobiographies, this book is her return to her prime. It reminded me much of "Sisters of the Yam" and "Talking Back."
Two things stand out in this book. First, bell finally critiques rap. She mentioned in a previous book how a magazine dropped a discussion between her and Ice Cube because they expected her to go off on him. In "Outlaw Culture," she chose to criticize "The Piano" (with its disturbing depiction of Maoris) rather than rap at home. Just as Spike Lee did a great job in portraying drugs in "Jungle Fever" (and gay black men in "Get on the Bus" for that matter) after being pushed by critics, bell tackles rap in a sharp, yet critical, way.
Second, she condemns Ellis Cose's harmless "Envy of the World," oddly. She chews up that book in every chapter. The last time she read somebody in every chapter was Sharazad Ali in "Breaking Bread." Surely, Cose cannot be deemed an enemy the way Ali rightfully was. He's not half as irritating as Camille Paglia. Like a brother once said to her regarding Spike, "bell, why you messing with that brotha!?" She practically tells him, "I'mma whoop you more if you don't cry like you mean it!" for no reason. All the time she spent attacking him, she could have used citing Devon Carbrado, Don Belton, Robert Staples, and many other black male writers on masculinity that she forgets.
She finally drops the subjects of her past loves as they were already heavily discussed in at least four of her books. She rightfully remembers the abuse heaped upon her by her father.
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars brilliant... June 28, 2004
bell hooks does it again. She demonstrates her love of humanity and her community with this gift to Black men. As a man of color, I see how patriarchal notions of white malehood have destroyed this planet and our communities. I hope my brothers of all races heed bell's warnings and embrace feminism.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An insightful and thought-provoking piece of work September 12, 2004
This was the first time I came across any of Dr. hooks' work, and I was very impressed. I appreciated that she went and did her research before she wrote about something as sensitive about black men and our masculinity. She had a very tough, but thoughtful critique of why black men are suffering today. Some may not agree with her thoughts, possible solutions, and such, but for me, I'm definitely feelin' her. The only thing which did upset me was the amount of typos in the book, but that is due to poor editing and not the content of what hooks brought. Everyone, from black men to black women and on down has to come to the realization that some sort of self-analysis needs to be done in order to be completely whole. She's done it, and still does so. Kevin Powell (who she mentions in her book) wrote a series of essays which he admitted wrongdoings in the past, and he's on his way to self-discovery and self-fulfillment. I feel like I am on that same road they have traveled of finding myself, loving myself, being honest and true with myself first, and it has led to a certain type of freedom in me I had not experienced before. Once other brothers (and sisters) realize a lot of what she said is true and needs to be addressed, we will all be better off collectively.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A strong insight March 27, 2007
As a black woman I enjoyed reading this insight into how people see black men and how they see themselves.

There are not enough positive role models in the form of Black fathers for young black men to look up to.

There can be a very strong critical element in Black families that could sometimes make me cringe as a child growing up.

You felt as if you constantly had to explain yourself and be walking on egg shells with not a positive encouraging comment in sight.

My Step-father was very negative and never really showed much consistent interest about anything you were interested in or wanted to achieve.

Thinking of umpteen reasons why it could go wrong or couldn't be done.

Not a very tactile or loving man either. Always busy being a workaholic and casting a very controlling element over the whole family.

This made you feel as if you were worth nothing and could achieve nothing.

These days I do hate to see this rap culture of Baseball caps turned backwards and this loping walk that looks like they've got a limp.

Or the worst thing I hate to see is tracksuit bottoms pulled down so that you can see their underwear!!

I find this sloppy and despicable and close to indecent exposure.

Also you can walk past another black person and not even recognition in the form of a smile or friendly hello.

This is very bad, so I recently made the decision to make the effort to make eye contact and smile or say hello.

It's up to black people to read more about their own history and culture.

We should know all the black inventors and people who played their important parts in history.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A critical review
I believe this is a must read to any man of African dissent seeking the humble guidance of female knowing from an intellectual perspective.
Published 2 months ago by Not for Public Use
4.0 out of 5 stars Life saving!
This book is life saving for any individual born into this American society. More importantly this book is soul saving for the blacks born into this American society. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Dibias
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Refernce on African American Men
As usaual hooks writes an informative book in easy fluent language. the book is not only a guide on why African American men are sometimes not that sucessful. Read more
Published on April 6, 2012 by review
5.0 out of 5 stars Be Off That Old Cool And On To The New Cool
There are times when one enters into a text blindly knowing not what to expect. One sets no expectations that their present opinions will be confirmed or refuted. Read more
Published on July 1, 2011 by Michael J. Strode
3.0 out of 5 stars Biased But Good
While I thought many of the points in the book were good I was troubled at how she transferred her personal familial experiences to all AA males. Read more
Published on December 14, 2007 by F. B. Wortham
3.0 out of 5 stars All bad things go together?
I found the lumping of negative influences on Black mens senses of their masculinity "racism, colonialism, sexism... Read more
Published on November 30, 2007 by Eyes Dark & Mellow
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Analysis of Black men!
I have never reviewed online, despite my interest in Afro-American related books. However, I could not pass up an opportunity to encourage someone to purchase this book! Read more
Published on May 12, 2005 by DeboRAh
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