bell hooks writes powerful, challenging, disconcerting, revolutionary stuff.
"Class" issues occupy her thought and analysis. She makes it very, very clear that we are not comfortable talking about these "class matters" and that we are in deep denial about them.
What follows is a sample of her work from her book, Where We Stand: Class Matters (Routledge 2000).
Nowadays it is fashionable to talk race or gender; the uncool subject is class… In less than twenty years our nation has become a place where the rich truly rule… While greed has always been a part of American capitalism,it is only recently that it has set the standard for how we live and interact in everyday life. Our nation is becoming a class-segregated society where the plight of the poor is forgotten and the greed of the rich is morally tolerated and condoned. (p. vii)
Everywhere we turn in our daily lives in this nation we are confronted with the widening gap between rich and poor… Yet there is no organized class struggle, no daily in-your-face critique of capitalistic greed that stimulates thought and action – critique, reform, and revolution.
As a nation we have become passive, refusing to act responsibly toward the more than thirty-eight million citizens who live in poverty here and the working masses who labor long and hard but still have difficulty making ends meet. The rich are getting richer. And the poor are falling by the wayside. At times it seem no one cares. Citizens in the middle who live comfortable lives, luxurious lives in relation to the rest of the world, often fear that challenging classism will be their downfall, that simply by expressing concern for the poor they will end up like them, lacking the basic necessities of life. Defensively, they turn their backs on the poor and look to the rich for answers, convinced that the good life can exist only when there is material affluence. (pp. 1-2)
More and more, our nation is becoming class-segregated. The poor live with and among the poor – confined in gated communities without adequate shelter, food or health care – the victims of predatory greed. More and more poor communities all over the country look like war zones, with boarded-up bombed-out buildings, with either the evidence of gunfire everywhere of the vacant silence of unsatisfied hunger… No one safeguards the interests of citizens there; they are soon to be the victims of class genocide. This is the passive way our country confronts the poor and indigent, leaving them to die from street warfare, sugar, alcohol, and drug addiction, AIDS, and/or starvation. (p. 2)
We live in a society where the poor have no public voice. (p. 5)
Solidarity with the poor is the only path that can lead our nation back to a vision of community that can effectively challenge and eliminate violence and exploitation. It invites us to embrace an ethics of compassion and sharing that will renew a spirit of loving kindness and communion that can sustain and enable us to live in harmony with the whole world. (p. 49)
Wealth built and maintained by the exploitation and oppression of others undermines a democratic vision of prosperity. (p. 79)
…the widening gap between the rich and the poor causes pain far beyond economic suffering, it rends and breaks us psychologically, tearing us asunder, denying us the well-being that comes from recognizing our need for community and interdependency. (p. 158)