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The Book Hospitality Activist Ashtin Berry Says Everyone Should Read

All About Love by bell hooks explores the way we think about love in society

A copy of All About Love by bell hooks on a pink starred background

Activism has always been a part of Ashtin Berry’s life, and after years working as a bartender, she turned it into a career. Berry is a co-founder of the collective Radical Xchange, which hosted the Resistance Served symposium in February. The now-annual New Orleans-based conference recognizes the contributions of black and African-American people to the hospitality industry, and reckons with the systematic barriers to leadership for this group. In her work as a consultant leading trainings on intersectionality, Berry similarly raises awareness around the inequality built into the hospitality industry, and works to fight it.

One book has most informed how she approaches this work: All About Love by bell hooks.

A book everyone should read

“It’s an exploration and an unpacking of the way that capitalism and other structures impact the way we think about love and how we engage with it and process it, and how oftentimes what we’re talking about is not love. It talks a lot about mental processing, engagement. It’s a book that everyone should read at some point in their lives.”

An older woman, Leah Chase, sits in a chair, while a younger woman, Ashtin Berry, kneels to her left.
Leah Chase and Ashtin Berry at an event for the Radical Xchange conference Resistance Served
Photo courtesy Ashtin Berry

Taking cues from a fellow black feminist

“I’m the type of person who’s a researcher. I read an average of three books a month, and I figure out how to fine tune the things that I do. Thinking about the processes in which you frame words, thoughts, actions, is really important to that, and bell hooks is one of the premier black feminist thought teachers. A lot of the work you see other people doing, like adrienne maree brown, would not be here if people like bell hooks had not done that work prior.”

A foundation for understanding identity politics

“Her work is a part of a lot of things I do. While she didn’t coin the term ‘intersectionality,’ she certainly is someone who talks about identity politics has been talking about identity politics for a while. She wrote the leading book on feminism (her and Angela Davis and I would say Audre Lorde, too) are the foundation of intersectional feminism.”

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