It’s Feminist Friday, readers! If you are already familiar with our ongoing series where we end each week sharing a handful of our favorite videos of the moment, you will already know what you are in for. For those new to the series and this site, welcome!
This week, instead of sharing video content we love, we’re doing something a little different. Since we are passionate about intersectional feminism, and the various mediums being used to share powerful feminist messages, we want to share a handful of books you must add to your reading/purchase list.
With the growing acknowledgement of white feminism having overshadowed a lot of the work of black and brown women within the feminist movement in the United States, seen most prominently in the recent presidential election where a majority of white women who voted cast their ballot for Donald Trump, where as black women primarily voted for Democrat Hillary Clinton.
Feminist author and longtime activist Gloria Steinem, who is considered by mainstream media and many feminists as one of the leaders of the second wave movement, said in an interview that it was actually black women who invented the feminist movement, explaining how their unrelenting activism throughout various periods of history does not get the credit or acknowledgement it deserves. Indeed many black, brown and indigenous women have been fighting for equal rights for a long time, because unlike many white women, such as those who voted for Trump, they have never had the luxury of benefiting from patriarchy or being protected by white, male, cis-gendered misogyny in an internalized manner.
That’s not to say there aren’t issues regarding gender within minority communities themselves, but on a grand scale, black women have always been on the frontlines even when white women were not joining them or listening to them. With the overwhelming success of the January 21st Women’s March which saw millions of men, women and children gather around the US and the world to march for equal rights under a repressive and divisive Trump administration, conversations around black feminism was once again given the spotlight, and it was an important moment in our current feminism wave.
Some may not know where to start when it comes to understanding the intersection of race and gender, and there are many scholars, authors, poets, and activists who can give any novice a great introduction. Buzzfeed put together a helpful list of 13 must-read books by women such as bell hooks, Toni Morrison, Audre Lorde, Angela Davis, and more which is a good place to begin.
We want to share 3 books which have recently been released as you continue your journey to understanding black feminism and how we can partner with each other in the ongoing movement which must be intersectional, otherwise it is does not serve the whole feminist community.
The first book is ‘The Mothers’, which is the debut novel by 26 year-old California-based author Brit Bennett. Previously known for her powerful articles on racial justice and police violence, Brit’s novel is a fictional look into the world of Nadia, a young black girl who finds herself thrust at the crossroads of some life-altering experiences.
The book starts with Nadia grieving over her mother’s suicide, and then takes shape following her fling with a pastor’s son with whom she falls pregnant. Nadia decides to get an abortion and go to college. Years later, she finds out one of her Christian friends ends up marrying Luke. ‘The Mothers’ from the title are a group of elderly church women who become a sort of pseudo conscience chorus of voices that seem to offer commentary throughout Nadia’s life and her decisions.
With abortion, sexuality and race being very heated topics within the reproductive justice area, this novel is less a political commentary, and more of a stereotype-busting humanization of an issue that affects so many women across America today. It is not necessarily billed as “feminist” book, but the way these important issues are centered within a black, conservative community, where judgement and shaming of women’s choices are present but not a deterrent to Nadia’s life, it is the kind of nuanced and complex conversation needed within the feminist movement. Hear a snippet of the book below:
The second book is ‘The Crunk Feminist Collection’, which is a group of essays and stories written by a group of women looking to explore the intersection of race, gender politics, pop culture and current events. The book is actually a progression from a popular blog of the same name, started by 3 black women academics who study and teach the above topics as their day jobs.
Brittney Cooper is an assistant professor at Rutgers University, Susana M. Morris received her Ph.D. from Emory University and is currently an associate professor of English at Auburn University, and Robin M. Boylorn is assistant professor at the University of Alabama. The blog has an annual readership of 1 million, where people come to engage in dialog about activism, intersectionality, identity, and sisterhood.
“These essays explore “Sex and Power in the Black Church,” discuss how “Clair Huxtable is Dead,” list “Five Ways Talib Kweli Can Become a Better Ally to Women in Hip Hop,” and dwell on “Dating with a Doctorate (She Got a Big Ego?).” Self-described as “critical homegirls,” the authors tackle life stuck between loving hip hop and ratchet culture while hating patriarchy, misogyny, and sexism,” says the description on Amazon.com.
Watch author Brittney Cooper talk about her origins in discovering black feminism in the academic world, and why she feels black feminist intellectuals need to be taught about more, in the same way black male intellectuals are.
The final book in this Feminist Friday special edition is ‘Here We Are: Feminism For The Real World‘. It is a collection of diverse, intersectional perspectives on feminism written by 44 writers, dancers, actors, and artists. The book is edited by Kelly Jensen, a former teen librarian who wanted a book which would enable feminism to become more accessible to the younger generation.
Guest authors include actress and activist Amandla Stenberg, ‘Bad Feminist’ author Roxane Gay, and ballet dancer Michaela DePrince. Teen Vogue asked Kelly, a self-appointed “feminist killjoy” who writes for StackedBooks.org, why this anthology of essays in one book was important to her.
“If feminism isn’t intersectional, then it’s not feminism. Our world is many colors, many shapes, many sizes, many voices and many beliefs. The only way you can be truly feminist is by embracing that’s how our world looks and behaves,” she said.
One of the main reasons she put the collection of essays together was because it is the kind of book she wishes were available when she were a teen. Of course with digital and social media allowing conversations around race, gender and politics to become more mainstream, impacting the younger generation through a distinctly intersectional lens could very well ensure that the future of feminism belongs to all people, not just white women.
This list is by no means exhaustive, it is merely meant to be an introduction to some modern, intersectional feminist works where black women’s voices, stories and perspectives are given the space to be seen as the leaders of this movement they have always been.