Book Review: Hood Feminism

You would have to be living under a rock to not of heard of this book. I’ll admit, reading this, digesting it and then trying to sit down and crank out a blog post on this book, was difficult. Not because of the book itself, but more about how I felt I could discuss/share about it without doing the book a disservice. There were so many gems, so many moments where I found myself nodding in agreement, so many insightful and informative bits. How do you wriggle it down into a blog post? We certainly tried our best…read along and see how we did..

Synopsis:

This isn’t a novel or a work of fiction, so it’s doesn’t follow the “typical” structure of a novel. Each chapter is dedicated to different subjects; housing, education, politics, reproductive rights, fetishization and more, Mikki weaves you through each topic with context of how it’s connected to her. With her arguments, she also backs it up with facts, statistics and references.

the children I am raising and the children who are being raised need to see that they are the inheritors of a proud enduring legacy forged here by the people who were put into chains and the people who broke them

Mikki Kendall

Break it Down:

While reading this book, I had many “aha” moments and revelations, some information surprised me and others merely confirmed suspicions I’ve previously had. Because it is written from an American point of view, using facts relating to Mikki’s own country, it made me wonder how Canada faired in some of the topics she raised. It would be completely naive of me to assume we were much better in some respects. I accept we have universal health care so some of those pressures would be lifted, but when it came to the subject of missing and murdered Indigenous women, this is one topic I know for sure Canada has been dragging their feet on. In college I studied Women’s Studies and Psychology, while attending my Women’s Studies classes, I was able to connect and have some real groundbreaking thought processes, to read the various ways in which a movement I have always felt connected to- ignores and marginalized the very people they claim to be helping, really upset me. Mikki drills home, chapter after chapter the various ways the feminist movement has essentially been silent on issues which affect marginalized communities, thus excluding them from the movement.

One thing that struck me, was how universal the Me Too movement was for women; women from all walks of life, trans, Black, White, Latinix- all united to stand for a common “enemy”- the patriarchy. There was a sense of unity and togetherness, women were sharing and opening up about topics, rape, sexual assaults which they had kept buried, traumas they had endured. There felt to be an awakening, but also a safety in numbers and in their shared realities. Though this book was written very, very recently- it hit the nail on the head when it comes to the silence from the feminist movement when it comes to the Black Lives Matter movement. Women of colour were out there supporting fellow women, but White women failed in returning the favour when it comes to the topic of racism and police violence on Black bodies. Especially this summer, when the viral video of George Floyd’s murder hit our consciousness, the speeches and outrage wasn’t from White feminists, they were from Black women- who were already doing the work, the same women who were at the Women’s March, the same women who stood behind Chrisitine Blazer Ford, because they remembered Anita Hill, yet those same women did not support Blazer- Ford when it came to voting for Kavanaugh to be elected in the Supreme Court. What Kendall states and she is right, especially if you look at the stats of the number of White women who voted for Donald Trump at this most recent presidential election. If given the choice, (most) White women will support White men, because at the end of the day they are their sons, fathers and husbands- voting against them would be voting against their own interests. At the end of the day power breeds power, even if White Supremacy hurts White women- it doesn’t hurt them as much as it does Black/Asian or Latinix women; so some leverage or power is better than none and the small amount they do have- they aren’t willing to give or pass up.

But what was most damning was how many white women who had benefited from the advances of feminism and affirmative action rushed to helo undermine the same policies that game them power and freedom.

Mikki Kendall

While I accept that racism and White Supremacy is something in which we all need to work together in order to break down and remove the systemic barriers in place which keep our society imbalanced, I do not believe White women will willingly help to dismantle this. Because it benefits them, even in the slightest way, you aren’t going to give up that little power, equally you aren’t going to throw the people nearest to you to the wolves either. So, as much as I am an optimist, it’s just not something I see making a huge impact. In my personal experience, I have known White women who claim to not be racist (and they may be right), but they aren’t willing to or simply cannot see how racism impacts their lives. They cannot relate to it. Being a Black female, I have the luck of being in a category where I am discriminated against due to one of the 1st things you see; my colour and my gender. A double blow of injustice, to have to try to explain the hinderance due to my gender, I will be able to connect and it resonates, mention colour and just. like. that. you lose the audience. They can accept discrimination based on gender, ability, sexuality, but racism? That’s like quantum mechanics to the feminist movementπŸ™„.

Negatives?:

This isn’t a negative as such, but it’s not a novel, so it doesn’t read as such- some sections got me so worked up and bothered; I needed time for it to ferment. It’s an educational book, full of facts, examples and many, many truths- some sections aren’t very easy to swallow, but they are facts none the less. For me, reading chapter after chapter of what felt like sucker blows after sucker blows of injustice and structural racism, it felt heavy and in some ways overwhelming. I know this wasn’t the author’s intention, but for me an overly optimistic person- this was a lot to process.

Would I recommend the book?:

Of course this book should be read, it’s short, direct and packs a punch- the facts and stats are there, you have a whole section of references and it was sometimes hard to digest, but it doesn’t make it any less important of a read. It’s relevant and most of all- it’s timely.