Sisters of the Yam: Black Women and Self-Recovery

Sisters of the Yam: Black Women and Self-Recovery

Language: English

Pages: 198

ISBN: 1138821683

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


In Sisters of the Yam, bell hooks reflects on the ways in which the emotional health of black women has been and continues to be impacted by sexism and racism. Desiring to create a context where black females could both work on their individual efforts for self-actualization while remaining connected to a larger world of collective struggle, hooks articulates the link between self-recovery and political resistance. Both an expression of the joy of self-healing and the need to be ever vigilant in the struggle for equality, Sisters of the Yam continues to speak to the experience of black womanhood.

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an idea most people know best from programs that focus on helping people break addictions, usually to substances. Though I first learned of this term in political writing about the issue of decolonization, I have found it meaningful to connect the struggle of people to “recover” from the suffering and woundedness caused by political oppression/exploitation and the effort to break with addictive behavior. In contemporary black life, disenabling addictions have become a dangerous threat to our

the…the…the…soul of a man go home to the Kingdom of God, but your spirit’s still here on earth.” Jackson reports that “the spirit of one’s ancestors is considered the closest link to the spirits of the ‘other’ world. Thus on the Sea Islands, as well as in Africa, spirits are asked to intervene on behalf of a living relative.” What she describes are some of the secrets of healing that traditional black people kept alive and used in healing processes that could be labeled “psychoanalytical.” The

of the Yam support group (and who has been in a prolonged depression since a love affair ended), called in the late night frantically crying, saying: “This is it. I’m sitting here with fifty pills daring myself to take them, to get it over with. I’m just so tired.” That sense of overwhelming loss and weariness that I hear in her voice is so familiar. It reminds me that there is a “world of hurt” inside us. It reminds me of a conversation I had with a black woman I met in the south months ago who

wounded childhood, a place of confession, where nothing had to be hidden or kept secret. It has always been one of the healing places in my life. At the end of William Goyen’s essay “Recovering,” he states, “It is clear that writing—recovering life—for me is a spiritual task.” Like Goyen, I believe that writing is “the work of the spirit.” Lately, when I am asked to talk about what has sustained me in my struggle for self-recovery, I have been more willing to talk openly about a life lived in the

unmasking, 16–17; emotional barriers and, 100; grief and, 76; of normalcy, 80; sexuality and, 90, 95; strength as, 51–52; truth and, 13–14; use of, 95 mass media: cinematic racism, 60–61; disabling imagery, 15–16, 161, 162; exported images, 166; fashion in, 68; government aid recipients and, 17–18; images of black femaleness, 62–63; images offered by, ix; representation of black women, 156; ruling class ethos in, 117–118; sexual desire in, 91; sexualized images in, 159; subliminal socialization

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