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Just Jillian: A Women-Focused Blog Addressing the Just & Unjust in the World of Sports




                                                                                  a heady heavy love
                                                                                  speaks to my yearning 
                                                                                  calls me
                                                                                  to give my all
                                                                                  and seek the place
                                                                                  of no return
                                                                                  to lay bare my heart
                                                                                  for you
                                                                                  to whom I surrender
                                                                                  to you
                                                                                  for whom I want

                                                                              ~ bell hooks

Love: A Means towards Freedom
Today my yearning comes to an end as I embark into the blogsphere with the hope that everyone's heart is open a little bit wider on this day of hearts, flowers, love, and a Hallmark card or two. Yet, that is not what I want to talk about here. Instead I want to talk about love and social justice. As said by bell hooks "The moment we choose love we begin to move towards freedom." Although I’m the first to recognize that it’s typically not that simple, I do believe it’s complicated by a society that teaches us to consume instead of love, love the fame and spotlight instead of loving thy self first, and fighting each other instead of loving thy neighbor. If we could exhibit love for ourselves, love for one another, love for our similarities AND differences, it is with this love that each of us would be closer to freeing ourselves from ourselves.

Let me repeat it again, "The moment we choose love we begin to move towards freedom." As I begin to open my heart to you in the coming weeks and months just know that it ALL comes from a place of lovemy love for myself, my love of difference, and most of all my love for making this world a better place than when I found it!

That said, let me tell you a little bit more about who I am. I see myself as a feminist who knew things weren’t fair in the world of sports before knowing about
Title IX. Yet once informed with the knowledge, which I obtained in an independent study my junior year of college, I soon became an activist for the cause. With my desire to share the knowledge I had gained with my peers, I co-created a program called Backyards & Beyond with a dear mentor and then professor. This catapulted me into the opportunity to serve on the Board of the Directors for the National Association for Girls & Women in Sport (NAGWS) first appointed as their VP of Students and then elected as VP of Inclusion & Social Justice. In addition, I have a master’s in Sport studies with an emphasis in Sport Psychology and Women’s Studies. My sporting roots are in basketball yet these days it’s more often that you will find me working out at my local YMCA, biking around the city of Berkeley, or enjoying the great outdoors of the Bay Area. 

By day I’m a researcher and by night I’m a writer while knowing there is no denying that I’m a Black queer woman who speaks her mind. I plan to do that here as I integrate both my professional and personal identity in an attempt to be educational, thought-provoking, honest, funny, and sometimes using a critical lens into the world of sports. I’m positive this will take on many forms—commentary (rants AND raves), interviews, research, and much more. My goal is to be inclusive of all sports, levels, and experiences in hopes of reaching a broader audience. 

Stay tuned…I’m looking forward to the journey and hope you will join me for the ride!


CALL 2 ACTION: I think it’s important to not only share my perspective but also to share suggestions on things you can do to make change one little action at a time, so today the first step begins with youPlease choose LOVE not only today but also for the next 364 days out of the year (or in the case of a leap year 365) J


P.S. I also encourage you to learn more about V-Day, which is a global movement to end the violence against girls and women. For more info, check out

Bernell Hooker

Bernell Hooker is the Founder and CEO of Images of Us (IOU) Sports; a non-profit organization that empowers girls and women through education and sports. "Think of yourself as an athlete. I guarantee you it will change the way you walk, the way you work, and the decisions you make about leadership, teamwork, and success." - Mariah Burton Nelson


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