Melissa Harris-Perry and bell hooks drop knowledge at the New School

Demetria Irwin | 11/26/2013, 4:30 p.m.
Melissa Harris-Perry and bell hooks hold talk, “Black Female Voices: Who is Listening.”
Melissa Harris-Perry and bell hooks Spencer Kohn photo

“The pushback that I am often feeling is not from the white folks in the community. It is from the other sisters who tear me down, tell me that the reason I am low-income is because I didn’t have the insight to choose good men, that I should’ve kept my hand out and mouth closed and my legs closed,” said Fields. “How do you wake up every morning and … I consider myself a Black feminist, but some days, it’s just so hard to get out of the bed and face other Black people.”

Harris-Perry became a single mother herself years ago after her marriage ended in divorce, but she was a college-educated homeowner who was gainfully employed, and she pointed out the real cause of the finger-pointing aimed at Fields.

“The ones who are most vulnerable to being in your exact position are the most likely to shame you. It’s not really about being a single parent; the thing you’re supposed to be ashamed of is being poor,” said Harris-Perry after she walked off the stage to hug Fields and privately console her for a few minutes. Applause and tears erupted as the two women hugged.

It was an epic and necessary public discourse, which ended with hooks urging those who wish to work for freedom to move away from binary thinking.