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Ain't I a Woman: Black Women and Feminism

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Author: bell hooks

Published: July 1st 1999 by South End Press (first published 1981)

Format: Paperback , 205 pages

Isbn: 9780896081291

Language: English


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A groundbreaking work of feminist history and theory analyzing the complex relations between various forms of oppression. Ain't I a Woman examines the impact of sexism on black women during slavery, the historic devaluation of black womanhood, black male sexism, racism within the recent women's movement, and black women's involvement with feminism.

30 review for Ain't I a Woman: Black Women and Feminism

  1. 5 out of 5

    Carolyn Newton

    It wasn't until I read this book did I finally start understand as to what it's truly like to exist as a black woman in our society. I had always been a passionate and convicted feminist, as far back as Jr. High really. After outgrowing the boybands of the late 90' & early 00's, I moved on to metal, punk rock and emo music. Riot Grrrl and the principles that came with it with was just the next natural step, so I came of age within the realm of white feminism. Bell Hooks put into words every feel It wasn't until I read this book did I finally start understand as to what it's truly like to exist as a black woman in our society. I had always been a passionate and convicted feminist, as far back as Jr. High really. After outgrowing the boybands of the late 90' & early 00's, I moved on to metal, punk rock and emo music. Riot Grrrl and the principles that came with it with was just the next natural step, so I came of age within the realm of white feminism. Bell Hooks put into words every feeling I ever had about myself that no song ever could. It was like listening to a knowledgeable Aunt or big sister talk about her experiences. Like I cried mid way through the book that's how powerful Ain't I a Woman is. If you care about black women, feminism or even just humanity you need to read this book because it will change you, and if it doesn't well then you are an asshole.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Aubrey

    White male scholars who examined the black family by attempting to see in what ways it resembled the white family structure were confident that their data was not biased by their own personal prejudices against women assuming an active role in family decision-making. But it must be remembered that these white males were educated in an elite institutional world that excluded both black people and many white women, institutions that were both racist and sexist. Calling myself racist accomplishe White male scholars who examined the black family by attempting to see in what ways it resembled the white family structure were confident that their data was not biased by their own personal prejudices against women assuming an active role in family decision-making. But it must be remembered that these white males were educated in an elite institutional world that excluded both black people and many white women, institutions that were both racist and sexist. Calling myself racist accomplishes nothing. Calling society racist accomplishes nothing. Calling the world racist accomplishes nothing, and in fact solipsistically applies the framework of United States oppression theory to a vast spectra of bigotry, each impacting the other but never, ever, the same. In a word, calling out an observation does nothing. Appropriating the patriarchal scientific method for a moment, one hypothesizes, experiments, hypothesizes, experiments, ad infinitum. Call out your observations, wonder why, go forth, call out, wonder, go forth. Never, ever, stop. Historically, white patriarchs rarely referred to the racial identity of white women because they believed that the subject of race was political and therefore would contaminate the sanctified domain of “white” women’s reality. By verbally denying white women racial identity, that is by simply referring to them as women when what they really meant was white women, their status was reduced to that of non-person. White feminists did not challenge the racist-sexist tendency to use the word “woman” to refer solely to white women; they supported it. For them it served two purposes. First, it allowed them to proclaim white men world oppressors while making it appear linguistically that no alliance existed between white women and white men based on shared racial imperialism. Second, it made it possible for white women to act as if alliances did exist between themselves and non-white women in our society, and by doing so they could deflect attention away from their classism and racism. hooks called out both feminists I've read and feminists I'm planning to read, and yet I will continue to use the information I have learned and will seek out more of the same. An answer to the wherefore lies in my inherently valuing the critical process far more than the perfection of the accumulated tidbits, a holistic rejection of the freeze frame, the weighing, the hierarchy of the patriarchy implying white imperialism and androcentrism and so much else. It is far easier to hate everything else than it is to incorporate that everything else into a deconstruction of that hate, but if you proclaim yourself an agent of justice, that is what you must do. We cannot form an accurate picture of woman’s status by simply calling attention to the role assigned females under patriarchy. More specifically, we cannot form an accurate picture of the status of black women by simply focusing on racial hierarchies. Scholars have argued further that by not allowing black men to assume their traditional patriarchal status, white men effectively emasculated them, reducing them to an effeminate state. Implicit in this assertion is the assumption that the worst that can happen to a man is that he be made to assume the social status of woman. I'll rest when a black trans lesbian, a recovering addict who grew up in poverty and was once a sex worker, is the President of the United States. Inconceivable enough to almost everyone as of now, but that list of characteristics will only grow longer during my lifetime of reading, writing, and thinking, for the lack of academic discourse on that particular combination of bigotry does not prevent me from being aware of the existence of individuals who, by sheer coincidence of birth, fit the bill. That coincidence should not choke aspirations of leadership in the highest echelons from the get go. What must change is not the aspirations, but the choking. “I know of more than one colored woman who was openly importuned by white women to become the mistresses of their white husbands, on the grounds that they, the white wives, were afraid that, if their husbands did not associate with colored women, they would certainly do so with outside white women, and the white wives, for reasons which ought to be perfectly obvious, preferred to have their husbands do wrong with the colored women in order to keep their husbands straight.” I interviewed a black woman usually employed as a clerk who was living in near poverty, yet she continually emphasized the fact that black woman was matriarchal, powerful, in control of her life; in fact she was nearly having a nervous breakdown trying to make ends meet. hooks did not touch on queer theory. She did not call out the disrespectful and dehumanizing view of China and its culture in one of her used quotes. She did not cite her sources as explicitly as most, although the very concept of citations evolves from the quick and easy rhetoric of the patriarchy that engulfs its oppression in seeming ethos while in reality making the rules so as to have something to mewl and puke about when the institution is threatened, as if the rules themselves as with racism were anything but conjured out of thin air and as such can be treated accordingly (similar to how Goodreads keeps capitalizing her name aka disrespecting her autonomy in the effort to preserve the fragile sanctity of its holy search function). However, her holistic breakdown of white, black, male, female, without ever playing one off the other, is a lesson of criticizing the complex web of indoctrination oppression that can be applied to any intersectional social justice. The patriarchy is a bloated blight, spanning from its emphasis on capitalism to its compromised inheritance, all in the effort to reduce humanity to ciphers of privilege for this or that or any old reason of difference, difference, difference. Life is politics is life is a multifarious thing, and will not limit its splintered evolution for the sake of your self-help book view of life. Feminism as a political ideology advocating social equality for all women was and is acceptable to many black women. They rejected the women’s movement when it became apparent that middle and upper class college-educated white women who were its majority participants were determined to shape the movement so that it would serve their own opportunistic ends. To those who saw feminism solely as a way to demand entrance into the white male power structure, it simplified matters to make all men oppressors and all women victims. Any idea can be abused. What matters is the willingness to pay heed to the consequences and the neverending effort to push that idea to its ultimate limits of inclusiveness of every being deserving of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. And then some. Racism is the barrier that prevents positive communication and it is not eliminated or challenged by separation. White women supported the formation of separate groups because it confirmed their preconceived racist-sexist notion that no connection existed between their experiences and those of black women. It in no way diminishes our concern about racist oppression for us to acknowledge that our human experience is so complex that we cannot understand it if we only understand racism. The Internet enables me to say these words without fear of physical retribution. Words words words, of course, but I am a writer, and once upon a time my words were not so good. Once upon a time, everything I stood for and how I stood for it was not so good. The memory of that, if nothing else, is what keeps me going. A feminism so rooted in envy, fear, and idealization of male power cannot expose the de-humanizing effect of sexism on men and women in American society. Our willingness to assume responsibility for the elimination of racism need not be engendered by feelings of guilt, moral responsibility, victimization, or rage. It can spring from a heartfelt desire for sisterhood and the personal, intellectual realization that racism among women undermines the potential radicalism of feminism. That sisterhood cannot be forged by the mere saying of words. It is the outcome of continued growth and change. It is a goal to be reached, a process of becoming. The process begins with action, with the individual woman’s refusal to accept any set of myths, stereotypes, and false assumptions that deny the shared commonness of her human experience; that deny her capacity to experience the Unity of all life, that deny her capacity to bridge gaps created by racism, sexism, or classism; that deny her ability to change. The process begins the the individual woman’s acceptance that American women, without exception, are socialized to be racist, classist, and sexist, in varying degrees, and that labeling ourselves feminists does not change the fact that we must consciously work to rid ourselves of the legacy of negative socialization. She wrote this at nineteen. Imagine that. Now go forth.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Lydia

    I am a little fledgling when it comes to intersectional feminism, so this was a great book for me to read. It further explored and clarified certain arguments and points-of-view that I've read/listened about online. It was published in 1987, so it's not completely up-to-date, but it is really an excellent book. bell hooks discusses black women and the sexism and racism they faced during slavery, and then continues discussing and exploring the sexism and racism that they face in contemporary times I am a little fledgling when it comes to intersectional feminism, so this was a great book for me to read. It further explored and clarified certain arguments and points-of-view that I've read/listened about online. It was published in 1987, so it's not completely up-to-date, but it is really an excellent book. bell hooks discusses black women and the sexism and racism they faced during slavery, and then continues discussing and exploring the sexism and racism that they face in contemporary times. Particularly focusing on white women's feminism and how white feminism has historically excluded black women (and women of colour) from it. I'd really recommend it. Her writing is powerful, unapologetic, and important. (also lots of today's mainstream white feminists could do with reading this tbhhhh)

  4. 5 out of 5

    Miranda

    A while back I read an article in the Washington Post about the new domesticity among women. But it only identified the lives of white women living in urban cities. After that I read another article about how the sustainable food movement and "bike to work" movement often appeared white and for people of priveledge. Later on a show called Girls made its debut on HBO and there was quite an uproar about class and race because there appeared to be so much left out from a show that was supposed to b A while back I read an article in the Washington Post about the new domesticity among women. But it only identified the lives of white women living in urban cities. After that I read another article about how the sustainable food movement and "bike to work" movement often appeared white and for people of priveledge. Later on a show called Girls made its debut on HBO and there was quite an uproar about class and race because there appeared to be so much left out from a show that was supposed to be a great series on the modern woman. On the modern feminist. It reminded me how left out I feel about most feminist work and things in pop culture geared towards women. I want to be interested because media is telling me it's for me. But then I realized how much it isn't and I wondered constantly about the seperation. Because of this I went to Ain't I a Woman, a book I tried to read at 15 but needed now more than ever. The history of the feminist movement shared in this book is incredible. The fact that it didn't want anything to do with black women made me think that we still have quite a long way to go. To look at this body of work in today's light, you can't deny that still women=white women and black=black men. How much are we still left out of the equation? And for that question, I can only say how important this book is for all women over two decades later. There is a sense among most reviewers that AIAW is a good but somewhat jumbled term paper. But to find out that Ms. hooks was an undergraduate when this was written gives one the understanding that this is the beginning of hooks in the movement. This is an incredible work for someone who was not a professor or not yet an expert in this field. And to understand that, it opens the doors for much of her later work and opens the doors for other black feminist writers and historians. I took my time reading AIAW. There was a sense that in some ways she was preaching to the choir but even the choir is shocked by this message. I think her intention was not to rant, to call out, or shame but to teach. To educate ALL women and men in the movement. And for that I am extremely thankful for this book. There's this idea that feminism is a radical thing but when approached in the right way, it's there to open your eyes to the long history of inequality. A history that is often being repeated. Feminism done right is there to radically change your mind about what your role is while walking through this life. This book will make you rethink what it means to be a black woman.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Ali

    A very informative book!

  6. 5 out of 5

    Jarrah

    This was a great companion read to Audre Lorde's Sister Outsider. Ain't I A Woman provides a comprehensive historical and social analysis of the ways black women have been marginalized by both white feminist movements and civil rights movements run by black men. hooks brings forward numerous examples of racist actions and statements by first and second-wave feminists, such as white women suffragettes excluding black women from their organizations and conferences. Most feminists have heard of Sojo This was a great companion read to Audre Lorde's Sister Outsider. Ain't I A Woman provides a comprehensive historical and social analysis of the ways black women have been marginalized by both white feminist movements and civil rights movements run by black men. hooks brings forward numerous examples of racist actions and statements by first and second-wave feminists, such as white women suffragettes excluding black women from their organizations and conferences. Most feminists have heard of Sojourner Truth's "Ain't I a Woman?" speech that this book is named after, but most of us didn't hear about the white women at that convention who screamed, "Don't let her speak! Don't let her speak!" as Truth mounted the platform. The examples hooks brought forward made me more fully understand why some black women see the label "feminist" as irredeemable, but hooks herself notes the ways in which black women experience sexist oppression alongside of and intersecting with race and class oppression. She argues against separate feminist groups for women of different races, saying, "All women should experience in racially mixed groups affirmation and support. Racism is the barrier that prevents positive communication and it is not eliminated or challenged by separation." "It is a contradiction that white females have structured a women's liberation movement that is racist and excludes many non-white women," hooks states, "However, the existence of that contradiction should not lead any woman to ignore feminist issues...I choose to re-appropriate the term 'feminism' to focus on the fact that to be 'feminist' in any authentic sense of the term is to want for all people, female and male, liberation from sexist role patterns, domination, and oppression." If anyone wants to understand why feminism needs to become more intersectional this will help give the context and teach about the problems in our past. I see this as an essential part of moving forward to a feminism that doesn't leave some women behind.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Nikhil

    I cannot stress enough how important this book is; a molotov cocktail into the cultural necropolis that is America. bell hooks wields her pen like a sledgehammer, dismantling the pillars of a sexist, racist, and classist society. She illustrates how these three insidious ideologies oppress and privilege us in myriad ways, poisoning the possibility for genuine human interaction/community and dehumanizing us all. Some reviewers have criticized the book for not having footnotes, or for certain hist I cannot stress enough how important this book is; a molotov cocktail into the cultural necropolis that is America. bell hooks wields her pen like a sledgehammer, dismantling the pillars of a sexist, racist, and classist society. She illustrates how these three insidious ideologies oppress and privilege us in myriad ways, poisoning the possibility for genuine human interaction/community and dehumanizing us all. Some reviewers have criticized the book for not having footnotes, or for certain historical inaccuracies or generalizations. These minor missteps do not change the validity of the conclusions she draws, and, consequently, are just ivory tower quibbling. Her clarion call ending, demanding a radical transformative force in American society to dismantle the institutions that merely perpetuate these oppressions restates Fanon's call for the New Man with a much better understanding of the pitfalls along the way. If only Fanon would have realized that entrusting the revolution to patriarchs does not result in anyone being free, and instead merely reanimates the rotting cadaver of Europe; a monstrous edifice made flesh.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Dusty

    Bell hooks's primary opponent in this book is the white feminist movement -- what's typically called the "second wave" -- of the 1960s and 70s. Her point is that the white women involved in the movement are racist and sexist and have routinely alienated and antagonized the black women who should be standing at their sides, but in order to develop that point, she retraces the history of black women in the United States since slavery. The book was groundbreaking upon its publication in 1981, and i Bell hooks's primary opponent in this book is the white feminist movement -- what's typically called the "second wave" -- of the 1960s and 70s. Her point is that the white women involved in the movement are racist and sexist and have routinely alienated and antagonized the black women who should be standing at their sides, but in order to develop that point, she retraces the history of black women in the United States since slavery. The book was groundbreaking upon its publication in 1981, and it launched the career of one of the most prolific and influential American cultural critics of the last several decades. As a piece of scholarship, it certainly has limitations: It makes too many broad historical generalizations, it doesn't grapple with the fact that the United States is made up of people who are neither white nor black, it's somewhat heteronormative, and many sources are not cited. However, as a piece of rhetoric, it's well-written, insightful, and certainly effective. Three stars.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Gail

    My book group is reading Ta-Nehisi Coates’s books and wanted to balance his voice with that of a black woman. I’ve been reading several books trying to find some for us to consider. As a ‘70s era, second wave (white) feminist, I’m one of those people who was oblivious to the racism in the feminist movement. As someone who has become aware of the concept of “intersectionality” in the last year, I had some idea about the particular challenges of race, gender, and class. But bell hooks upended most My book group is reading Ta-Nehisi Coates’s books and wanted to balance his voice with that of a black woman. I’ve been reading several books trying to find some for us to consider. As a ‘70s era, second wave (white) feminist, I’m one of those people who was oblivious to the racism in the feminist movement. As someone who has become aware of the concept of “intersectionality” in the last year, I had some idea about the particular challenges of race, gender, and class. But bell hooks upended most of what I thought I knew about myself, my culture, and my country’s history. This book is stunning in its scope and its use of literature, history, and contemporary interviews to help both white and black women understand the unconscious racism and sexism that resides within and without. I’d heard of bell hooks but never read her work. This book is an essential read for any woman who wants to understand the challenges of building a woman’s movement that is inclusive and able to address the concerns of women in all classes and racial groups. I read a library copy but want to own one so I can read it again and again. I was frustrated that I couldn’t underline and make notes, something that this books compels you to do. The author doesn’t just challenge white women. She takes on patriarchy and all its dysfunctions with the black community as well. While this was originally written when she was in grad school and published in 1981, most of it is very relevant to today. In the face of the election of Donald Trump, the #metoo movement, and the support Roy Moore had in his senate race, women have asked, “how could women vote for or support so many of these people?” This book helps you understand that dynamic. Yes, women are racist and sexist and will undermine feminism if it is in the interest of the patriarchy that they are intimately ensnared in. One criticism made of her work is that she never provides footnotes or detailed references in her work. I didn’t think that was such a big deal. But as I read so many of the excellent historical excerpts she included, I wanted to know where the original source could be found. You’d have to do a lot of research to do that. I have concluded that this is a significant flaw in this book but the content overcomes it enough to award 5 stars. Still, it is something I wish she’d correct in a new edition. Many contemporary black women writing about the challenges of being a black woman in 21st century America are standing on the shoulders of bell hooks. Read this. Now. It’s too important not to.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Melody

    Life-changing, thought provoking, inspiring, and hard to put down--basically everything you could want in a book. A highly recommended read for people of all races, genders, colors, abilities, and creeds. You will learn so much from this book and genuine curiosity and desire for knowledge for the sake of learning will lead you to seek out more knowledge about the topics discussed therein and, eventually, you will be better for it. Let this book teach you some things you might be afraid to know, Life-changing, thought provoking, inspiring, and hard to put down--basically everything you could want in a book. A highly recommended read for people of all races, genders, colors, abilities, and creeds. You will learn so much from this book and genuine curiosity and desire for knowledge for the sake of learning will lead you to seek out more knowledge about the topics discussed therein and, eventually, you will be better for it. Let this book teach you some things you might be afraid to know, let it enlighten you, let it expose you to a whole new world and shine the light on the existence--past and present--of a large group of underrepresented persons among you. bell hooks' writing is highly readable and the concepts and anecdotes she presents are digestable, though at times she can be a little redundant. Still, if emphasis in order to remember clearly what you read is what you need, you will get it here. There are many times when you will find yourself wanting to "remember that concept" or "remember that sentence and the way she said it" in order to recall it later in discussion: evidence of a great thinker and a likable writer.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Dana

    Transformative. Essential reading for anyone who wishes to understand the world we live in. I only have a tiny complaint: It's ok to criticize a movement for its goals, but when you don't provide an alternative one, it leaves me feeling helpless. That's what I don't like about most critiques of the feminist goal of reaching gender and race equality and about people saying they want to end capitalism. We shouldn't just want the same power to dominate, as white males have, I agree. But, what's the Transformative. Essential reading for anyone who wishes to understand the world we live in. I only have a tiny complaint: It's ok to criticize a movement for its goals, but when you don't provide an alternative one, it leaves me feeling helpless. That's what I don't like about most critiques of the feminist goal of reaching gender and race equality and about people saying they want to end capitalism. We shouldn't just want the same power to dominate, as white males have, I agree. But, what's the alternative? What's the alternative to democracy, states, people exchanging products and services for money and vice versa? I just need to know, so I can imagine a different future.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Bianca

    I loved it. It is a wonderful perspective on the feminist movement and black women. Some of the information is dated but the sentiments reign true today. bell hooks has gained another fan. I am a baby black feminist and found this easy to understand and thoroughly enjoyable.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Kathy

    So good. Should be required reading.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Christine (TheOtherChristineThatReads) McMillan

    Very glad I read this. A powerful and important book.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Curtis Ackie

    I love living legend bell hooks, from her cultural critiques to her live-streamed chats (many of which can be found on youtube), and hope to rectify the fact that this is only the second book of hers that I've read to date (the first being the excellent Teaching to Transgress). The road to unlearning sexism and racism is a long and rough one, and I'd like to think that this collection of brilliant essays has helped me along the way some. That said, it was a challenging read, and not only because I love living legend bell hooks, from her cultural critiques to her live-streamed chats (many of which can be found on youtube), and hope to rectify the fact that this is only the second book of hers that I've read to date (the first being the excellent Teaching to Transgress). The road to unlearning sexism and racism is a long and rough one, and I'd like to think that this collection of brilliant essays has helped me along the way some. That said, it was a challenging read, and not only because the subject matter, especially when it veered towards the historic, understandably led me to feelings of intense anger and nausea, but also because it exposed me to how I have been and am complicit in the oppression of others, particularly Black women. Basically, everyone should read this book. I think I'll end by pointing out the astonishing fact that bell hooks was only nineteen (yes, 19) when she wrote it.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Paul

    I've encountered so much bullshit intersectional feminist theory / philosophy / history that I must confess to being completely amazed by how good this book was. It was surreal to read something subtitled "Black Women and Feminism" that was (1) jargon-free, (2) actually well-written, (3) historically accurate, (4) coherently argued, and so on. Sure, Ain't I a Woman has the standard shortcomings of late second-wave / early third-wave academic feminism (i.e., "let's just mention the madonna/whore I've encountered so much bullshit intersectional feminist theory / philosophy / history that I must confess to being completely amazed by how good this book was. It was surreal to read something subtitled "Black Women and Feminism" that was (1) jargon-free, (2) actually well-written, (3) historically accurate, (4) coherently argued, and so on. Sure, Ain't I a Woman has the standard shortcomings of late second-wave / early third-wave academic feminism (i.e., "let's just mention the madonna/whore dichotomy on every page"), but what do you do. I honestly feel bad for the actual scholars working in this field (such as Watkins) whose work has been devalued by decades of grifters.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Rori

    Required reading for anyone who considers themselves a feminist. Really, required reading for anyone who considers themselves a human being.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Ashley

    bell hooks. I love this woman. She challenges me to decolonize my mind. Read this book. ✊🏾

  19. 4 out of 5

    Danny

    This book was fantastic. I have always felt reluctant to identify with mainstream feminism, due to many of the problems that hooks discusses in this book. She gives a clear, precise voice to things that were only vague feelings in my mind, and she discusses issues of racism in feminism that I knew close to nothing about as a white person. She does not forget class or material conditions, the book is built on these lived realities. The prose is unemcumbered, easy to understand, efficient. The ide This book was fantastic. I have always felt reluctant to identify with mainstream feminism, due to many of the problems that hooks discusses in this book. She gives a clear, precise voice to things that were only vague feelings in my mind, and she discusses issues of racism in feminism that I knew close to nothing about as a white person. She does not forget class or material conditions, the book is built on these lived realities. The prose is unemcumbered, easy to understand, efficient. The ideas are important and profound. I think I could be this kind of feminist.

  20. 4 out of 5

    KT

    Some day, I'll learn about an aspect of history that is actually really cool and uplifting. This was not that day. However, it's a very important part of our nation's history (and, sadly, present), and we need to know about it in order to try to fix it.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Taylor

    Had to listen on audio. I need a copy of my own. Important work. I have so much I want to underline & make notes on. Really gotta get my own copy soon. Also appreciate how digestible Hooks is. Had to listen on audio. I need a copy of my own. Important work. I have so much I want to underline & make notes on. Really gotta get my own copy soon. Also appreciate how digestible Hooks is.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Devin

    Probably the most impactful book I’ve read

  23. 4 out of 5

    Anna Beepro

    My new favourite book!! Everyone should read it. Every woman should at least read it once and give it to friends! Every men should read it too and do the same. Lots of knowledge and understanding about the dynamic between Black and White people.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Amanda

    This book made me think Alice Paul was not so great. That those iron jawed angels were not so great. Bell Hooks speaks to the idea that all the women are white and all the blacks are men. And that black woman have been consistently devalued, overlooked, omitted. She talks about the feminist movement of the 60's and 70's. How the women's movement was the white women's movement. A desire for white woman to get on even ground with white men. She talks about the problems of movment's that exist with This book made me think Alice Paul was not so great. That those iron jawed angels were not so great. Bell Hooks speaks to the idea that all the women are white and all the blacks are men. And that black woman have been consistently devalued, overlooked, omitted. She talks about the feminist movement of the 60's and 70's. How the women's movement was the white women's movement. A desire for white woman to get on even ground with white men. She talks about the problems of movment's that exist within the patriarchal, imperialist, capatalist system. How movement's for change within the system cannot be successful because someone, black women are always at the bottom of the ladder. And everyone else inciting change is just making enough waves to not be at the bottom. She talks about shelters and other types of bandaids that do nothing to change the overall plight of black women and future generations. She talks about the black power movement and how it is an exercise in partiarchy and how all of the oppressions are connected. That racism cannot be the only oppression to work on because it is the most imporant. That racism and sexism are linked, and not until there is a dialogue between them can all people esp. black women move towards freedom. Hooks is constantly questioned, why are you a feminist? And she believes a women's movement for all women can exist. She gives me hope to believe in this. I am showing no action.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Tom

    While this book predates the term for intersectional feminism, bell hooks is making the case for it. This work details some of the history of sexist and racial violence and oppression that black women have faced, and the sometimes contradictory movements for black liberation and women's liberation. She examines the sexism in many black liberation movements, and the racism and classism in feminist movements. This was published in 1981, but it feels very contemporary with all the issues it tackles While this book predates the term for intersectional feminism, bell hooks is making the case for it. This work details some of the history of sexist and racial violence and oppression that black women have faced, and the sometimes contradictory movements for black liberation and women's liberation. She examines the sexism in many black liberation movements, and the racism and classism in feminist movements. This was published in 1981, but it feels very contemporary with all the issues it tackles. That both speaks incredibly well for hooks, and incredibly poorly for society as a whole. hooks strongly argues that without looking at combined forces of oppression on basis of race, gender, economics, and many more, the root causes will not be eliminated and the what should be the ultimate goals of a feminist movement will have failed. This book made me think of a lot of the controversies concerning recent Women's Marches, and the lack of inclusion on the basis of race, class, gender and sex. It is a fine book, and while under 200 pages it is extremely dense with information. Started reading this for the Literary Cure book club.

  26. 5 out of 5

    sydney

    Inexcusable that it took me so long to read this book. Hooks is amazing and inspirational and everything she says makes sense. These essays are about black women's history in the United States and the historically problematic intersections between race and gender-- notably, that black women have either been asked to choose one of their identities as the "most important" or have felt doubly disempowered. Hooks explores the ways in which black women have been devalued and how feminism has failed t Inexcusable that it took me so long to read this book. Hooks is amazing and inspirational and everything she says makes sense. These essays are about black women's history in the United States and the historically problematic intersections between race and gender-- notably, that black women have either been asked to choose one of their identities as the "most important" or have felt doubly disempowered. Hooks explores the ways in which black women have been devalued and how feminism has failed to address black women's lives. She argues that feminism can and should be a tool used by black women but that all women need to work together to understand each other and move forward to build a movement that works for more women. I cannot do this book justice in this review but I want you all to read it because bell hooks is brilliant.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Bondama

    There were times while reading the books that bell hooks comes across as writing from such a tremendous store of anger until ones stops to realize that these things, (slavery, etc.) really did happen. Then the harder part begins, when one is forced to face the fact that white women are not really interested in joining together with their black sisters. Hard, unpleasant, but impossible to hide, because it's true, and I hope it changes. It's difficult to say that this is a book that one "enjoys" re There were times while reading the books that bell hooks comes across as writing from such a tremendous store of anger until ones stops to realize that these things, (slavery, etc.) really did happen. Then the harder part begins, when one is forced to face the fact that white women are not really interested in joining together with their black sisters. Hard, unpleasant, but impossible to hide, because it's true, and I hope it changes. It's difficult to say that this is a book that one "enjoys" reading, but I can say it's a book every feminist, in particular, should read. When a writer forces his/her reader to confront facts that are more than just a bit unpleasant about oneself, it's risky. But without facing these ideas, nothing will EVER change.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Laurie

    3.5 stars - Much to think about and, as a white woman, to be ashamed of white women in the historically bad treatment of black women as fellow seekers of equality. I thought hooks paints several issues with a broad brush that surely have more variation in the behaviour of people in various groups. I particularly liked the final chapter where she discussed what feminism should and could achieve if women would not look to join the patriarchal society we already have but instead work for a society 3.5 stars - Much to think about and, as a white woman, to be ashamed of white women in the historically bad treatment of black women as fellow seekers of equality. I thought hooks paints several issues with a broad brush that surely have more variation in the behaviour of people in various groups. I particularly liked the final chapter where she discussed what feminism should and could achieve if women would not look to join the patriarchal society we already have but instead work for a society based on actual equality in race, sex, and class.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Carolyn

    This is one of the most enlightened and enlightening books I've ever read. It grounded (and to some extent validated) my own feminist beliefs. bell hooks is a popular intellectual. She speaks to you - not at you, not above you - in a language you, an ordinary person, understand.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Asia

    A really great, enlightening read with a wealth of information about black feminism through the centuries in the US as well as the systems that opposed and oppressed these movements. Definitely an essential read for anyone interested in intersectional/black feminism.

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