bell hooks saved me

Ewuare X. Osayande
LEVEL
Published in
6 min readDec 16, 2021

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bell hooks saved me. I say that in all sincerity. At a critical time in my life, when I was at my lowest point, it was bell hooks, through her books, who pulled me out of a hole of profound depression and set me on a path of self-renewal on which I have remained ever since.

Newly divorced with two very young sons, I was determined to give a better fatherhood experience than the one I had. The examples of responsible and loving manhood in my life were wanting. I knew early on in life that I didn’t want to grow up to be a man like my stepfather. The mistaken assumption I carried was that that sole desire was sufficient. What I didn’t realize is, without any alternative liberating visions to turn to, those internalized experiences would surface within me. It took me hitting rock bottom to realize that the patchwork façade of manhood I had scrambled to embody was woefully incapable of enabling me to become the man I desired to be.

Reading Malcolm X’s autobiography in college taught me that a person can remake themselves through critical self-engagement. And that reading could play a crucial element in that pursuit. But it was the writings of bell hooks that proved to be the catalyst that lifted me out of the pit of my despair. And of all books, it was her Sisters of the Yam that caused the initial shift in my consciousness. Growing up in a society that taught me men existed at the…

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Ewuare X. Osayande
LEVEL

Author, Black Phoenix Uprising | Juris Doctorate Candidate | Founder, ORIJIN, a racial equity consultancy. Learn more about his work at osayande.org.