When Mikki Kendall published Hood Feminism: Notes from the Women that a Movement Forgot in early 2020, the situation was dire. Today, not even six months later, it’s even worse. The shooting of Breonna Taylor by police in her own home is just one reason. Countless Black people dying from COVID-19 is another. And there are many more.
And what Kendall does with her essays is amplify the concerns of Black women, as they relate to a wide variety of topics. She discusses gun violence, poverty, education, hunger, housing, parenting, and many other issues. In each essay, her perspective is fresh and strong-minded. She tells her own story as a woman and a parent. But she also integrates news stories and broader perspectives.
As a white woman trying to look outside my bubble, this was a great choice. Kendall challenged me, specifically in her essays about feminism and white feminists. I listened to the audiobook from the library but will pick up a print copy soon so I can digest her thoughts and ideas again.
Just a Few Quotes
“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.”
“For women of color, the expectation that we prioritize gender over race, that we treat the patriarchy as something that gives all men the same power, leaves many of us feeling isolated.”
“Anger gets the petitions out, it motivates marches, it gets people to the ballot. Anger is sometimes the only fuel left at the end of a long, horrible day, week, month, or generation.”
There are moments in Hood Feminism where Kendall is vulnerable. Whether she’s discussing body image and eating disorders or abuse, fear and marginalization, she is all in. I appreciate what this book does to both inform and inspire her various audiences. Her views are valuable vantage points.
While I can’t stand in a Black woman’s shoes, books like this help me see more clearly for where my privilege lays. And how much harder life would be without the advantages I’ve been afforded.
Throughout much of the last 3 ½ years, I’ve heard that protests and activism owe an ongoing debt to the work of Black women. Kendall is that kind of woman. She’s an activist because the world gives her no choice, whether it’s in her writing, speaking engagements, or participation in uprisings. That deserves to be acknowledged and appreciated, as does this book.
I recommend this to my political and social justice activist readers. And I encourage you to pick up the audiobook so you can hear Kendall’s own voice.