I saw Hood Feminism: Notes From the Women That a Movement Forgot by Mikki Kendall pop up on Bookstagram a lot in March. It would not have been in my normal TBR list, but I am glad that I stretched and read it. It was well worth the time. Because, I’m going to be straight, feminism isn’t a topic that I read a lot about. When I do read about it, I choose to read Black Women’s perspectives about it for the reasons Kendall brings up in her book.
Critiquing White Feminism
According to Merriam Webster, the word feminism is defined as: “belief in and advocacy of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes expressed especially through organized activity on behalf of women’s rights and interests.” I’ll be honest, reading this definition and thinking about the feminist movement today, this definition can ring a little hollow. Kind of like…the Declaration of Independence’s “all men are created equal.”
Hood Feminism is a critique of the feminist movement and the canyon-sized divides between white women and BIPOC women. In her collection of essays she includes touches on respectability politics, poverty, race, and hyper-sexualization, just to name a few. One essay that stuck out to me personally was, “How To Write About Black Women.” I felt that it gave voice to unfortunately common experiences Black women endure in society.
What Affects One, Affects Us All
One recurring motif in the book is the idea that ignoring the plight of one group will eventually have repercussions and harm on the whole group. White feminists commit self-harm when they ignore issues that they identify as BIPOC issues but are actually issues that affect all women. “Mainstream, white-centered feminism hasn’t just failed women of color, it has failed white women. It’s not making them any safer, any more powerful, or even wiser.” Kendall’s essays reinforce this idea and serve as a reminder that all women suffer from the same issues whether eating disorders, abuse or poverty.
Educator Reflection Alert:
I would like to assign any educator reading this book a close read of the chapter titled “Education.” After you read and annotate it, reflect in a free write your emotions connected to the reading. When I say educator, I am definitely including principals and any administrators that serve students along with teachers. Then, get together in your teams (start in small groups and then step up to whole faculty) and discuss the following questions:
- What are the rules in your school? District?
- Why are they the rules?
- Could you follow the rules?
- How do they support education?
- Is it a safe environment for all?
- Where is the safe space for students? Does it exist? Does it exist for all students?
Would I Read it Again: Yes, I will probably go back and take a closer look at certain chapters. That’s the beauty of non-fiction! Kendall has a wide range of topics so a re-read will provide you with additional insight.
Educator Recommendations: I would recommend this on two levels. Educators should read and engage in an accompanying professional learning community (see reference above). Students should read for any women’s literature or AP Language courses. I would consider selecting a chapter to focus on for a discussion in an 11th or 12th grade class.