Dr. Brittney Cooper describes herself as a “teacher, writer, shit talker, feminist, Southerner.” I often describe her as her own weather system, since even descriptions like “force of nature” are not enough. She is also a bestselling author, professor, and activist, and I am thrilled that Eloquent Rage: A Black Feminist Discovers Her Superpower was the Onward Book Club’s inaugural selection.
This book is essential reading for anyone who calls herself a feminist — and it’s also a beautiful and vulnerable story of Brittney’s own journey. In both her writing and our conversation, Brittney uses language that is at once down to earth and intellectual and discusses the weightiest issues with incredible humor. She is brilliant and real and wise.
Brittney writes about the surprising moment that altered her life’s work, when after a lecture, a student admiringly told her that her presentation was a kind of eloquent rage: “That began a moment of reckoning for me, around how to grapple with my own anger as a person — and as a black woman, also battling the angry black woman stereotype and not wanting to succumb to it. So this book is about reclamation . . . about trying to reclaim this rage in a way that can be expressive and powerful for black women, and not in a way that will be weaponized against us, or used to delegitimize our call for justice.” As she tells me, “We live in a nation that does everything to induce our rage while simultaneously denying that we have the right to feel it.” Brittney tells me about how she has since developed the freedom to say what she thinks without fear of reprisal or judgment, and why the fragility of white egos is not a problem for her to solve.
Please don’t miss this conversation with a powerful woman whom I admire with all my heart.
And I urge you to watch this discussion and Q&A as well, from Brittney’s takeover of my Instagram in June 2020 as part of the “Share the Mic” campaign.
Find book club questions for Eloquent Rage here.