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Gathering in Love

Rethinking transformation in education

  • 22 Dec 2021
  • 6 min

We all learn and experience love differently. For some of us, we learn the complete opposite in a classroom: we learn how to hide from ourselves, we learn the history of those who have worked tirelessly to silence us, and we also learn how to fit into boxes that are too small for us. As we grow, we begin picking up the pieces, searching for the true meaning of love with the hopes that it will transform us into something that we wished for when we were hiding. Sometimes we find those pieces in writers, feminist activists, dreamers, changemakers, artists, and even in the mirror. For a lot of us gathered around the virtual table of Zoom, we found these pieces in the work and life of bell hooks. 

A few days ago, we were all shocked by a press release that alerted the world of the transitioning of Gloria Jean Walkins, lovingly known by her pen name, bell hooks. She was a pioneer in the feminist movement, advocating for radical love and guiding us to really unpack who we are, and to see and know the impact of our intersecting identities. 

All 20 of us sat oceans apart in a “Gathering in Love” led by Transform Education, a young feminist coalition led by the United Nations Girls’ Education Initiative (UNGEI), reading and immersing ourselves in quotes and paragraphs of bell hooks’ work. We noticed that we created a little classroom, one where faces swollen with tears and emotion were perfectly okay, we didn’t have to pretend. We carried various reflections and experiences on our tongues and in our bones and that was okay. “A large tree has fallen and seeds were planted,” a participant shared, as they reflected on an excerpt read from hooks’ ‘All About Love’ read by Sapphire, Education Transformer and founder of Caribbean Feminist. Our “Gathering in Love” was not an exclusive space, you did not have to know who hooks was, you just had to show up with an open heart and a love for transformation.

A large tree has fallen and seeds were planted
A large tree has fallen and seeds were planted. Illustration by Chanelle Beatrice. 

When we think about transforming education, we must take these lessons with us - a collective love for something great. Even if we are at different levels or oceans apart, what binds us is love, passion and a love for transformation. We learn that being an advocate or an activist takes so much from you, but we get to choose how we carry the weight of the world. We can carry it together and change the world, to be a space where we can engage in decolonized practices and gatherings, a space where we prioritize experiences and reflections over what we read in a textbook - because the end goal is liberation for all, and how else to do that but to break out of the walls of boxes and textbooks?

We read the work of bell hooks and shared honestly. A participant shared that we were recreating the very space hooks spoke about, ‘Sisters of the Yam’, learning from/with/about each other, feeling together and most of all committing to transformation and liberation for all.


When we think about transforming education, we must ensure that our praxis and plans center love. There is no transformation without love.