bell hooks is a seeker, a feminist, a social critic, and a prolific writer. Her books include“Ain’t I a Woman?”: Black Women and Feminism; Talking Back: Thinking Feminist, Thinking Black;Breaking Bread: Insurgent Black Intellectual Life (with Cornel West); and, most recently Black Looks all from Southend Press. She was born Gloria Watkins forty years ago in Hopkinsville, Kentucky, and was educated at Stanford and Yale. Currently she teaches English and Women’s Studies at Oberlin College in Ohio. This interview was conducted for Tricycle by editor Helen Tworkov.
Tricycle: What was your first exposure to Buddhism?
bell hooks: When I was eighteen I was an undergraduate at Stanford and a poet and I met Gary Snyder. I already knew that he was involved with Zen from his work, and he invited me to the Ring of Bones Zendo for a May Day celebration. There were two or three American Buddhist nuns there and they made a tremendous impression. Since that time I’ve been engaged in the contemplative traditions of Buddhism in one way or another.
Tricycle: And that excludes Nichiren Shoshu? Which is the only Buddhist organization in America with a substantial black membership?
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