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Hood Feminism
Cover of Hood Feminism
Hood Feminism
Notes from the Women That a Movement Forgot
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A NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER “One of the most important books of the current moment.”—Time   “A rousing call to action... It should be required reading for...
A NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER “One of the most important books of the current moment.”—Time   “A rousing call to action... It should be required reading for...
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  • A NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
    “One of the most important books of the current moment.”—Time

     
    “A rousing call to action... It should be required reading for everyone.”—Gabrielle Union, author of We’re Going to Need More Wine
     
    “A brutally candid and unobstructed portrait of mainstream white feminism.” —Ibram X. Kendi, author of How to Be an Antiracist

    A potent and electrifying critique of today’s feminist movement announcing a fresh new voice in black feminism

    Today's feminist movement has a glaring blind spot, and paradoxically, it is women. Mainstream feminists rarely talk about meeting basic needs as a feminist issue, argues Mikki Kendall, but food insecurity, access to quality education, safe neighborhoods, a living wage, and medical care are all feminist issues. All too often, however, the focus is not on basic survival for the many, but on increasing privilege for the few. That feminists refuse to prioritize these issues has only exacerbated the age-old problem of both internecine discord and women who rebuff at carrying the title. Moreover, prominent white feminists broadly suffer from their own myopia with regard to how things like race, class, sexual orientation, and ability intersect with gender. How can we stand in solidarity as a movement, Kendall asks, when there is the distinct likelihood that some women are oppressing others?
    In her searing collection of essays, Mikki Kendall takes aim at the legitimacy of the modern feminist movement, arguing that it has chronically failed to address the needs of all but a few women. Drawing on her own experiences with hunger, violence, and hypersexualization, along with incisive commentary on politics, pop culture, the stigma of mental health, and more, Hood Feminism delivers an irrefutable indictment of a movement in flux. An unforgettable debut, Kendall has written a ferocious clarion call to all would-be feminists to live out the true mandate of the movement in thought and in deed.

Excerpts-

  • From the book Solidarity Is Still for White Women

    As debates over last names, body hair, and the best way to be a CEO have taken center stage in the discourse surrounding modern feminism, it's not difficult to see why some would be questioning the legitimacy of a women's movement that serves only the narrow interests of middle- and upper-class white women. While the problems facing marginalized women have only increased in intensity, somehow food insecurity, education, and health care-beyond the most basic of reproductive needs-are rarely touted as feminist issues. It is past time to make the conversation a nuanced, inclusive, and intersectional one that reflects the concerns of all women, not just a privileged few.



    In 2013, when I started #solidarityisforwhitewomen, by which I meant mainstream feminist calls for solidarity centered on not only the concerns but the comfort of white middle-class women at the expense of other women, many white feminists claimed it was divisive and called it infighting, instead of recognizing that the problem was real and could not solve itself. They argued that the way to fix feminism wasn't by airing its proverbial dirty laundry in public. Yet, since its inception, mainstream feminism has been insisting that some women have to wait longer for equality, that once one group (usually white women) achieves equality then that opens the way for all other women. But when it comes right down to it, mainstream white feminism often fails to show up for women of color. While white feminism can lean in, can prioritize the CEO level at work, it fails to show up when Black women are not being hired because of their names or fired for hairstyles. It's silent when schools discriminate against girls of color. Whether it is the centering of white women even when women of color are most likely to be at risk, or the complete erasure of issues most likely to impact those who are not white, white feminism tends to forget that a movement that claims to be for all women has to engage with the obstacles women who are not white face.



    Trans women are often derided or erased, while prominent feminist voices parrot the words of conservative bigots, framing womanhood as biological and determined at birth instead of as a fluid and often arbitrary social construct. Trans women of color, who are among the most likely targets of violence, see statistics that reflect their reality co-opted to bolster the idea that all women are facing the same level of danger. Yet support from mainstream white feminists for the issues that directly impact trans women has been at best minimal, and often nonexistent. From things as basic as access to public bathrooms to job protection, there's a dearth of mainstream white feminist voices speaking out against trans-exclusionary policies and laws. A one-size-fits-all approach to feminism is damaging, because it alienates the very people it is supposed to serve, without ever managing to support them. 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.



    When the obstacles you face vary by race and class, then so too do your priorities. After all, for women who are struggling to keep themselves housed, fed, and clothed, it's not a question of working hard enough. They are leaning in, but not in search of equal pay or "having it all"; their quest for equal pay starts with equal access to education and opportunity. They need feminism to recognize that everything that affects women is a feminist issue, whether it be food insecurity or access to transit, schools, or a living wage. Does...

Reviews-

  • Kirkus

    December 15, 2019
    A book about feminism from the perspectives of those often left out of the conversation. Kendall (Amazons, Abolitionists, and Activists: A Graphic History of Women's Fight for Their Rights, 2019) takes a magnifying glass and megaphone to the plights of marginalized women, many of whom are criminally overlooked or erased in mainstream feminist discussions of the hardships women face. The author frankly highlights how issues like race, food insecurity, gun violence, and poverty, among others, are all feminist issues, with many of them overlapping or serving to exacerbate others. Using history, pop culture, and statistics along with personal stories, Kendall demonstrates the problems with mainstream feminism's lack of consideration of intersectionality. She purposefully shifts the focus to women who are generally treated as a footnote and holds up a mirror to feminism's usual spokespeople by pointing out blind spots in a movement that claims to be for all women but which has shown itself to be exclusionary of most. A military veteran, wife, mother, and ardent opponent of respectability politics, Kendall shows how several talking points used by mainstream feminists and policymakers cause more harm than good to the groups they are trying to serve, and she supplies practical suggestions for ways to make worthwhile and sustainable changes. While acknowledging that no one is without flaws, Kendall also notes that we have a responsibility to make society a safer, more equitable place for women of all backgrounds. Sometimes, that involves stepping aside so someone more suitable gets the platform and support to do so. Kendall is a highly knowledgeable and inspiring guide, and she effectively builds on the work of black women who have, for ages, been working to better the lives of themselves and their communities. The book is an authentic look, from the perspective of a black feminist, at the ways mainstream feminism must be overhauled, from the personal to the policy level, and a demand that its practitioners do better. A much-needed addition to feminist discourse.

    COPYRIGHT(2019) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Publisher's Weekly

    December 23, 2019
    Blogger Kendall (Amazons, Abolitionists, and Activists) indicts mainstream feminism for focusing on “debates over last names, body hair, and the best way to be a CEO” rather than the basic survival of marginalized women in this searing essay collection. Grounding her critique in personal experiences of gun violence, police discrimination, single motherhood, poverty, sexual harassment, and the “school-to-prison pipeline,” Kendall accuses “theoretically feminist white women” of failing to “make common cause against white supremacy” and “turn to the patriarchy for protection” when they feel threatened. She asks white, straight, cisgender, middle- and upper-class women to become “accomplices” rather than “allies”; to stop fetishizing the bodies of women of color; and to make a living wage, safe neighborhoods,“food insecurity,” voting rights, and access to quality medical care and education feminist issues. In the case of Muslim and African-American women challenging the patriarchal structures of Islam and the black church, however, Kendall advises mainstream feminists to step back and resist the impulse to play “white savior.” Her forays into satire, including instructions for “How to Write About Black Women,” are less impactful than her autobiographical reflections, but Kendall manages to draw a clear picture of what true intersectional feminism looks like. This hard-hitting guide delivers crucial insights for those looking to build a more inclusive movement.

  • Library Journal

    January 1, 2020

    In this collection of essays, Kendall (coeditor, Hidden Youth) explores how feminism has not acknowledged the many ways in which race, class, and sexual orientation intersect with gender. Through a biographical lens, Kendall examines how issues like food security, access to education, safe housing, and health care connect to feminist concerns, and ponders why they continue to be ignored by mainstream feminists. Reflecting on her experiences being raised by her grandmother, a woman described as a feminist who would never have called herself one, Kendall draws parallels between the unwritten rules she learned growing up and the disconnect many women of color still feel from white feminists. Whether she's discussing pop music, her patriarchal grandfather, or the number of women of color who go missing, Kendall combines her personal experiences with data and statistics to create a compelling narrative and call to action and change. VERDICT A frank account of who and what is still missing from mainstream feminism that will appeal to readers of women's and African American studies, and readers seeking a better grasp on history.--Venessa Hughes, Denver

    Copyright 2020 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Booklist

    February 1, 2020
    If feminism is defined as political, economic, and social equality of the sexes, then how does it account for a lack of that parity among women? Mainstream feminism is just that, normative, and tends to work for everyone save those who live on the margins. Blogger, speaker, and essayist Kendall is a Black woman who knows what it's like to live outside the majority patterns of society in general and feminism in particular. She has known hunger and been the victim of violence. She has fought for autonomy over her own body and had to justify her beliefs to the people she holds dearest. In this forceful and eloquent series of essays, she takes on the feminist myopia that ignores the daily existential struggles of women of color and encourages a broader support of society's most vulnerable citizens. If such support is forthcoming and awareness expanded, then not only will those outside the feminist establishment be empowered, those within the current movement will also be enlightened as to their cause's true universal potential.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2020, American Library Association.)

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