America Needs bell hooks

Lion’s Roar is proud to offer this selection of bell hooks’ writings and conversations from our pages on spirituality, race, feminism, and life.

Melvin McLeod
28 March 2023

The late writer, feminist theorist, and cultural critic bell hooks played a vital role in twenty-first-century activism through her expansive life’s work exploring the historical function of race and gender in America. Lion’s Roar is proud to offer this selection of her writings and conversations from our pages on spirituality, race, feminism, and life.

When great voices are suppressed we must stand up for them. The late bell hooks was one of the leading thinkers and moral voices of our time. Now, as a powerful woman of color, feminist, and penetrating critic of racial injustice in America, she is a target.

Deeply influenced by Buddhism, bell was a frequent contributor to Lion’s Roar magazine. I was honored to be her friend and often benefited from her amazing mind and big heart. Although she had many answers, she always remained a searcher.

From her conversations with Thich Nhat Hanh, Pema Chödrön, and Sharon Salzberg, to her seminal essay “Toward a Worldwide Culture of Love,” bell brought to our pages penetrating analysis, great writing, and an uncompromising advocacy of love as the force that will transform our lives and our society.

We must all celebrate a great voice like bell’s when it is silenced.

Now this voice for love and justice is one of the Black thinkers targeted in attacks on the straw man of “critical race theory.” Yet far from a threat, the writings of bell hooks are exactly what America needs — honest analysis of injustices past and present, and love and compassion as their answer.

So Lion’s Roar is proud to offer this selection of bell hooks’ writings from our pages, particularly to students in Florida and elsewhere for whom her truth is apparently dangerous. Because we must all celebrate a great voice like bell’s when it is silenced — and needed more than ever.

—Melvin McLeod, Editor-in-Chief, Lion’s Roar

In Conversation with bell hooks

In these conversations between bell hooks and Thich Nhat Hanh, Eve Ensler, Pema Chödrön, Sharon Salzberg, and Maya Angelou, hooks explores topics of love, community, compassion, and rising up in the face of defeat.

bell hooks thich nhat hanh

Building a Community of Love: bell hooks and Thich Nhat Hanh

bell hooks meets with Thich Nhat Hanh to ask him the question “How do we build a community of love?”


Strike! Rise! Dance! — bell hooks & Eve Ensler

Eve Ensler and bell hooks discuss fighting domination and finding love.

bell hooks and Pema Chodron.

Pema Chödrön & bell hooks on cultivating openness when life falls apart

In this conversation from 1997, bell hooks talks to Pema Chödrön about how to open your heart to life’s most difficult challenges.


Pema Chödrön & bell hooks on cultivating openness when life falls apart

Sharon Salzberg and bell hooks sat down with Lion’s Roar’s Melvin McLeod for a special discussion on how to bring more love into our lives.

bell hooks (left), photo by Liza Matthews. Maya Angelou (right), photo by York College ISLGP.

“There’s No Place to Go But Up” — bell hooks and Maya Angelou in conversation

A classic 1998 conversation between Maya Angelou and bell hooks, moderated by Lion’s Roar editor-in-chief Melvin McLeod.

John Perry Barlow and bell hooks

bell hooks and John Perry Barlow talk “prana in cyberspace”

From the Lion’s Roar archives, a 1995 conversation between digital activist and lyricist John Perry Barlow and social theorist bell hooks.

bell hooks on Sex, Love, and Feminism

bell hooks shares her musings on sexuality, race, gender, and the practice of love.

From Ain’t I a Woman?: Black Women and Feminism, the ground-breaking book she started writing at age 19, through works such as All About Love, Bone Black, and Teaching to Transgress, bell hooks was one of the most influential progressive thinkers of our time. A practicing Buddhist, she was a frequent contributor to Lion’s Roar. Photo by Karjean Levine / Getty Images

Toward a Worldwide Culture of Love

The practice of love, says bell hooks, is the most powerful antidote to the politics of domination. She traces her thirty-year meditation on love, power, and Buddhism, and concludes it is only love that transforms our personal relationships and heals the wounds of oppression.

Illustration by Charles Tsevis.

Ain’t She Still a Woman?

Increasingly, patriarchy is offered as the solution to the crisis Black people face, writes bell hooks in this piece from 1999. Black women face a culture where practically everyone wants us to stay in our place. Here, hooks offers solutions to bring feminism out of the closet.


When Men Were Men

The message is, says bell hooks, that it’s fine for women to stray from sexist roles and play around with life on the other side, as long as we come back to our senses and stay happily-ever-after in our place.


Penis Passion

bell hooks argues that our erotic lives are enhanced when men and women can celebrate the penis in ways that don’t uphold macho stereotypes.

bell hooks on Life and Faith

bell hooks spoke and wrote of the intersections between life and spirituality often, including how it fit into her writing practice and what Buddhist teacher Thich Nhat Hanh meant to her.

Photo by Christina.

Voices and Visions

“When the spirit moves into writing, shaping its direction, that is a moment of pure mystery. It is a visitation of the sacred that I cannot call forth at will.” bell hooks shares how writing becomes a way into the realm of the sacred.


A Beacon of Light: bell hooks on Thich Nhat Hanh

The leading cultural critic and thinker bell hooks shares what Buddhist teacher Thich Nhat Hanh means to people of color.

Fotografia por John Towner.

When the Spirit Moves You

“I walked further and further away from father and son,” says bell hooks. But my steps always drew me closer to holy spirit.”

Photo by Will Scullin.

Design: A Happening Life

“When life is happening, design has meaning, and every design we encounter strengthens our recognition of the value of being alive, of being able to experience joy and peace.” bell hooks on the power of design.

About bell hooks

In this dedication to, profile, and clips of bell hooks in conversation, we offer a closer look into bell hook’s life and visionary message of love.

bell hooks. Photo by Liza Matthews.

Yes, She Was a Powerful Woman! A Dedication to bell hooks

Following her death, Pamela Ayo Yetunde, Aishah Shahidah Simmons, Kamilah Majied, Lori Perine, and Zenzele Isoke reflect on bell hooks’ profound legacy.


bell hooks tells the story of the first time she met Thich Nhat Hanh

When bell hooks met Buddhist Teacher Thich Nhat Hanh for the first time, all that could come out of her mouth were the words “I’m so angry.” In this video, she shares how he responded.


What is love? bell hooks has the answer

In this clip from a conversation with Sharon Salzberg and Melvin McLeod, bell hooks answers the question “What is love?”

bell hooks. Photo by Liza Matthews.

Love Fights the Power

For bell hooks, fighting oppression doesn’t require anger or conflict—just opening our hearts and speaking the truth fearlessly. In his classic profile from 2006, Barry Boyce tells the story of this renowned feminist and social critic, and how she came to embrace activism without enemies and a visionary kind of love.

Melvin McLeod

Melvin McLeod is the Editor-in-Chief of Lion’s Roar magazine and Buddhadharma.