cover image Killing Rage

Killing Rage

bell hooks. Henry Holt & Company, $20 (288pp) ISBN 978-0-8050-3782-1

If cultural critic hooks (Black Looks), distinguished professor of English at New York's City College, doesn't have a comprehensive plan for achieving her subtitle's promise, her sensitivity to the intersection of race, class and gender infuses many of these essays, written during the past 20 years, with challenges to conventional and liberal wisdom. Deeming her own rage ``constructive,'' she urges that collective black rage be linked to a passion for justice, even as she warns that privileged blacks' ``narcissistic rage'' leads to public trivialization of poor blacks' real grievances. Though her declaration that contemporary feminism has done little to help blacks seems sweeping, hooks rightly argues that white defenders of Anita Hill have done little for poor black women, and that whites who deny that they are racist must engage in regular interaction with black folk. The author discerns that the recent wave of black self-help books ignores the link between personal and political change, and rues that contemporary black activists have forgotten the ``profound critique of capitalism'' their forebears raised in the 1960s. Also, she wisely warns against turning Afro-centrism into utopianism and wrenching multiculturalism into narrow nationalism. Author tour. (Sept.)