Ky. author’s books being removed from AP course curriculum

Kentucky native Bell Hooks authored more than 30 books on a range of topics, including Black feminism, race, sexuality and how to teach critical thinking.
Published: Feb. 6, 2023 at 5:34 PM EST
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BEREA, Ky. (WKYT) - The national discussion of removing certain literature from the College Board’s AP curriculum for African American studies hit close to the Commonwealth.

Kentucky native bell hooks authored more than 30 books on a range of topics, including Black feminism, race, sexuality and how to teach critical thinking.

Those subjects have caught the attention of the college board, with her work being reviewed and removed from the curriculum according to the New York Times.

Chaka Cummings is the executive director of the Association of Teaching Black History in Kentucky. His office is located inside Berea College.

hooks began teaching at the college in 2004.

“Her work would definitively be a part of what you would want to center in a course around African American Studies,” said Cummings.

Cummings believes African American studies should bring different literature and the arts as well as a review of historical studies in order for students to get the entire picture of the African American experience.

“So as a historian, I would look at African American studies and say how is bell hooks experience, how is bell hooks, the work, that she really put in terms of center black feminism, how something like that be removed from a course like this when it really feels like bell hooks should be centered,” said Cummings.

Cummings says the timing of the decision crosses over into the political arena.

“There’s been a lot of political conversation around this course specifically in Florida, specifically with Governor DeSantis down in Florida,” Cummings said. “When those pieces are removed after that politically charged rhetoric comes out, folks have the right to question, ‘hey, what’s going on here in terms of timeline.’”

“bell believed the study of Black women, Black fem, even the study of Black queer folk can not be additive; it needs to be a part of the mainstream conversation,” founding director of the bell hooks Center Dr. M. Shadee Malakalou said.

The center was created in 2021 for historically marginalized groups that may need a student space to find what they called a beloved community.

“I would ask what are we afraid of by teaching African American history with these scholars that are not particularly radical but have a critique of a system in which we all exist and which we all benefit from,” said Dr. Malakalou. “What are we scared of?”

bell hooks died in 2021 in Berea. She left a piece of her legacy with the college as she donated her papers to the school’s archive.

hooks’ name is left uncapitalized in our articles out of respect for the author; she preferred to have her first and last name written with all lowercase letters.