An Inclusive Space
The bell hooks center honors hooks’ legacy by supporting students as social justice leaders who are active in the creation of a radical undercommons where their many and varied expressions of difference can thrive. Our flagship speaker series hosts leading feminist scholars, activists and artists who can teach our campus and community how to navigate and agitate against the intersecting structures of power that hooks generatively describes as “imperialist-white-supremacist-capitalist-patriarchy.” We believe that an understanding of how sex and gender oppression are products of not just patriarchy, but also and especially of white supremacy, has the potential to chart a new chapter in Berea College’s great, historical commitments—one that cultivates radical coalition between women, LGBTQPIA+ students, and students of color. Our center is thus committed to equipping students with language and tools to imagine and enact new relationships that need not reproduce the gender hierarchy, which we believe, following bell hooks’ teachings, is also a racial hierarchy.
“There will be no wavering on matters of gender equity by the leadership of the College, both on campus, and at the level of the Board of Trustees. This is in our DNA. We want to be welcoming and supportive. This is a part of the Sixth Great Commitment. We want our infrastructure and programming to support people outside the binary.”
—Dr. Lyle Roelofs, Ninth President of Berea College
Abolitionist at its core, Berea College remains committed to grappling with gender equity and its consequences. Its efforts today are largely informed by women of color feminisms, especially by Black feminist thinkers like Berea’s own bell hooks. hooks’ feminist message—that love is the way and that justice is the destination—exemplifies the College’s motto that “God has made of one blood all peoples of the earth.” Her insight that there is no feminism without anti-racism implores us to think holistically about the histories that gave birth to The Great Commitments and to agitate for a more inclusive future. As the meanings that we assign to sex, gender and sexuality continue to change, we remember, as hooks taught us, that the oppression of one is the oppression of all. bell hooks’ feminism is for everybody, and so is Berea College.