Book Review: Hood Feminism: Notes from the Women That a Movement Forgot by Mikki Kendall

“Privilege not only blinds you to oppression, it blinds you to your own ignorance even when you notice the oppression”

(Kendall, 250)

This book is the book to read on intersectional feminism.

It would not be an exaggeration to call Mikki Kendall’s collection of essays that make up Hood Feminism (Viking) the handbook on how to include women of color in the feminist movement.

Kendall presents her readers with 18 essays ranging from topics such as gun control to respectability politics to hunger. Each issue that Kendall draws into the conversation is a brushstroke in a raw and honest painting of experiences the feminist movement has ignored for too long.

Feminism is often characterized (and even caricatured) by unshaved legs and #girlboss culture: a triumphant shattering of the glass ceiling in pastel pant suits, gripping a to-go mug that reads in glittery letters “self-care is self-love.” And there’s a place for that, but when we stay there and say that’s all feminism is, we leave a significant portion of women out in the cold.

“An intersectional approach to feminism requires understanding that too often mainstream feminism ignores that Black women and other women of color are the proverbial canaries in the coal mine of hate”

(Kendall, 11)

Feminism without intersectionality is just white supremacy in a pink, cat-eared hat; and that’s not even an original thing to say. Anyone who doesn’t benefit from generations of white privilege likely already knows that. But for those who don’t, Kendall provides a comprehensive roadmap in how to move from passive allyship to being an active accomplice of meaningful change.

This book was eye-opening in so many ways to how white feminism has ultimately failed women of color. Hunger, gun control, safe housing: these are all issues that mainstream feminism often leaves off the agenda. It creates a dynamic where only white, middle- and upper-class women get any real benefit out of this fight… and we start to wonder if we really mean “all women.” If we really want to show up for women of color, it’s time to put down the “Women Belong in the Workplace” sign and listen. Women of color have been in the workplace. Let’s stop assuming the patriarchy is affecting us all the same way.  

“… the innately abusive nature of white supremacy has shaped white feminism, seen to it that investment in white supremacy is easier than investment in actual equality for themselves with all women. White feminism has to move past any idea of being an ally and into being an accomplice in order for it to be meaningful” (Kendall, 257)

If you consider yourself a feminist, this book is for you—especially if you come from a place of privilege.

If you’d like to grab a copy of Hood Feminism, you can order from EyeSeeMe, a Black-owned bookstore in University City, MO here, or check out your local bookstore!

Image at the top: Author Mikki Kendall

Vicki Barclay is the Editor-in-Chief of Serpentine Literary Magazine.


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