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Hood Feminism: Notes from the Women that a Movement Forgot

Book review reflections from a white woman

“…when white women help to maintain the status quo in a society that is dripping with white supremacy, they give themselves more power….white women have historically centered their own concerns in every movement.”

But many white feminists aren’t intentionally racist, right?

If you are a “well meaning” white woman reading this book, you might be tempted to think, that’s not me! I don’t want to be grouped in with those racist white women! First off, no white ally is ever going to be perfect, it’s continual work to be actively anti-racist. Second, intentions don’t matter at all, it’s the impact that matters. Third, if you are offended by broad generalizations about white feminism, Kendall challenges you to take it personally then and make change:

“There’s work to do, and the patriarchy won’t break itself. So white feminism is going to have to get comfortable with the idea that until they challenge their racist aunts, parents, cousins, and so on, it is definitely all white women who are responsible.”

But why are white feminists generally more “outspoken” about feminism?

Kenall makes the argument that because Black women are battling many different intersecting issues (including race and gender, constantly), it is a privilege to be able to focus solely on gender. It is also a privilege for white women to be able to call out the white men in their life… it is more complicated for Black women to call out the Black men in their lives, because of the ongoing racist history project called “America”.

“We know that carceral feminism (a reliance on policing, prosecution, and imprisonment to resolve gendered or sexual violence) is most likely to be used against women who fight back. Particularly women of color.”

And when Black women do speak out…

In regards to the upcoming election

Kendall speaks about the problematic behavior of “Bernie Bros” in the past election, who “felt comfortable calling Black and Brown voters ‘low information’ for not supporting their preferred candidate.”

“It almost never comes up in political discourse during an election cycle that for those living in decaying neighborhoods, the years of neglect have left the impression that the party doesn’t matter, that no politician cares enough to try to stem the tide.

Nor do we address the way that having a front-row seat to the brutality of poverty and neglect can impact a person emotionally.”

Perhaps white feminists, for every person we enthusiastically encourage to vote this election with our pink “pussy hats”, we also encourage ourselves to be actively anti-racist and make time regularly to listen to the voices that the movement has failed and forgotten.

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