Saturday, August 8, 2009
Bone Black: Memories of Girlhood
I must have found bell hooks when I was college. I remember reading Killing Rage on an airplane and feeling the eyes of the woman next to me reading over my shoulder...only for a moment. I know this could not have been the first book I read of hers because I don't naturally gravitate towards non-fiction, and essays are a stretch. I know - after picking up the red and black, perfect-sized book with a cute little Black girl on the cover - that Bone Black has to be the first book I've read in its entirety of bell hooks. Her memoir writing is so different from the essays; it's like comparing silk to cardboard boxes. Her words, like the book itself, are carefully packaged in short, bite-sized vignettes that are a pleasure to digest. You can flip to any chapter and read and not feel disconnected from the rest of the memoir. I flipped through and reread a few and ended up on chapter 31 which talks about hair:
Good hair - that's the expression. We all know it, begin to hear it when we are small children...Good hair is hair that is not kinky, hair that does not feel like balls of steel wool, hair that does not take hours to comb, hair that doesn’t not need tons of grease to untangle, hair that is long. Real good hair is straight hair, hair like white folk's hair. Yet no one says so (pg. 91).
What was that bell? Did you just say what other folks don't like to talk about? No wonder I liked her memoir. I tried having this exact conversation last week (when Tyra Banks had an episode dedicated to the same topic) and it was shut-down. Disturbing that what bell hooks experienced when she was young, is quite valid today. All the more reason for me (and you) to revisit all of bell hooks' girlhood memories in Bone Black. Maybe I'll find the reason why she doesn't capitalize her name in there somewhere...