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.
If you're someone who claims the mantel of feminism, who believes in the innate equality of all genders, who thinks that solidarity among communities of women is a core component of the world you want to live in, I strongly encourage you to read Mikki Kendall's debut essay collection ... In prose that is clean, crisp, and cutting, Kendall reveals how feminism has both failed to take into account populations too often excluded from the banner of feminism and failed to consider the breadth of issues affecting the daily lives of millions of women ... Those already familiar with Kendall as a leader in Black feminist thought won't be surprised that Hood Feminism is grounded in intersectionality ... Throughout, Kendall thoughtfully and deliberately takes mainstream feminism to task for failing to take on the fight of Black maternal mortality, for an overdependence on carceral solutions ... If Hood Feminism is a searing indictment of mainstream feminism, it is also an invitation. For every case in which Kendall highlights problematic practices, she offers guidance for how we can all do better.
... bracing ... Kendall’s argument unfolds across 18 provocative essays ... While the topics tend to bleed into one another and converge in a set of oft-repeated opinions, the book beautifully centers on the experience of women who face an actual battle on the front lines while mainstream feminists clamor for access to the officers’ club ... It’s unfortunate that Kendall’s discussion of it isn’t more disciplined. Her arguments are at times overly generalized, and the writing can be opaque. Cliches drag an otherwise nuanced narrative down ... Despite these flaws, the book succeeds in drawing the ineluctable conclusion that poor and working-class women, particularly when of color, lead a profoundly different life in America than their wealthier and white counterparts.
There will be no reverence here, no tiptoeing around mainstream feminism’s dreams, no grateful acceptance of a black space that is in the gift of white proprietors ... Her book brings it back to the real world, where feminism is about 'food insecurity and access to quality education, safe neighbourhoods, a living wage and medical care.' Kendall uses both anecdote and analysis to make her case ... Kendall’s voice is passionate, and moves easily between the personal and the political. She is at her strongest and most refreshing when rejecting the fetishisation of black women for being strong ... Kendall is often unsparing and honest about issues that aren’t related to racism, pointing out that colourism among black communities predated contact with Europeans. In doing so she pulls off two things at the same time. She exposes the yawning chasm between what constitutes mainstream feminist activism and the urgent needs of women of colour ... And she does so without absolving her own communities, or elevating them into saintly victimhood.