Hood Feminism: Notes From the Women That a Movement Forgot is one of the most life-changing books I have ever read.
The great feminist, activist, scholar, and author Mikki Kendall has given us an electrifying look at how the feminist movement — focused on the American Dream narrative of achieving professional success and respectability, on “saying the right words at the right time” — has failed Black women for far too long. In our flawed paradigm, if you just have enough power and enough money, everything else will follow. But Mikki is here to give us a better definition: “Feminism is the work that you do and the people you do it for who matter more than anything else.” She reminds those of us who strive to be on the right side of issues of race and politics that these are not theoretical, academic subjects. The goal of feminism must always be to support real women in their real lives, many of them simply trying to get their basic needs met.
This beautifully written book, therefore, is a call to action for those of us who thought allyship might have been enough. It isn’t. We must become accomplices in the struggle to reduce or remove barriers to safety, survival, to quality of life. Allies, Mikki tells us, are supportive from the back of the room. They are social cheerleaders. But accomplices donate to mutual aid funds and bail funds, they show up to the boring meetings, they advocate for real policy and budget changes in communities where violence-prevention programs are more beneficial than police in schools; they press politicians on what they are doing about the crises of housing and hunger; they understand that survival logic is more urgent and effective than going through performative motions.
I promise you, this collection of essays will change the way you see and operate in the world. Thank you to Mikki for enlightening and lifting so many people in so many ways, and for a candid and illuminating conversation. We must do better, and we can do better.
Find a reading guide for Hood Feminism here.