Bell Hooks writes Killing Rage as a call to responsibility for the job unfinished by the civil rights movement. While education was integrated and affirmative action attempted to equalize schools, businesses, and work, a large section of the social population was left out. Hooks calls to account “systematic racism” which is white domination of politics, advancement in employment, and many other areas not covered by the civil rights movement. Hooks looks within her own culture for the cause of this continued racism into the 21st Century.
In regards to rage, Hooks asserts that there is an undercurrent of uncontrollable rage when blacks are confronted with white supremacist aggression. Hooks asserts:“Until this culture can acknowledge the pathology of white supremacy, we will never create a cultural context wherein the madness of white racist hatred of blacks or the uncontrollable rage that surfaces as a response to that madness can be investigated, critically studied, and understood”.
According to Hooks, denial of this pathology is an intricate part of European culture. Mass media stereotypes, sexism of African American women, and cultural values placed on white attributes are the main criticisms of Hooks as far as the white world is concerned. Rather than focus on blame to the more than guilty white culture, Hooks concentrates on issues within the African American community.
Hooks calls on black women to embrace “revolutionary feminism”. Revolutionary feminism is not based on hatred of patriarchy but rather focuses on men and women achieving equality together. The civil rights movement was focused on the black man achieving power and his rightful, equal place in society. The black woman was to be dominated and kept in her place as a symbol of the black male having control over his world. Manhood was defined by a black man’s ability to “coerce, control, and dominate”. The social crisis that resulted from this crippled the black community and halted the advancement of the black woman in the civil rights movement.
Hooks main assertion throughout the book is that “masculinity need not be equated with sexist notions of manhood…”. Hooks writes of black patriarchy being linked to high rates of violence in the black community as males are being set up as the sole authority leader within the community. It can not be denied that the African American culture can only gain from black men and women working together towards equality and the ending of patriarchy.
In order to achieve this equality, gender roles are need to be reevaluated and new definitions given to “manhood” and “womanhood”. Hooks points to the Million Woman March as an example of these definitions being grossly abused. The role of men in the March was to encircle the women assembled and provide protection.