Book Review: Hood Feminism

Reviewed by Natalie Appleyard

Mikki Kendall writes from the perspective of a cis-gendered, able-bodied Black woman who grew up in poverty in the United States and is now a published author with two degrees. She speaks from her experiences of domestic violence, of single-parenting, of living through more miscarriages than live births, and of now having a healthy marriage and two children going through middle school and college. Where she cannot speak from personal experience, she shares her research and learning from and about those whose identities and experiences are different from her own.

While her personal anecdotes lend insight and empathy to the reader, she consistently pulls away from an individualistic focus to the experiences, needs, and strengths of the community. “It’s not a question of ‘Why can’t they do what you did?’” she writes, “It’s a question of ‘Why can’t we give everyone else the same support and access?’ That’s the battle feminism should be fighting.”

Kendall turns the gaze of those in positions of privilege who self-identify as “feminist” to frequent blind spots that compromise equity for all who present as feminine and their communities. If you have never heard of, or examined concepts such as respectability politics, fetishization, corporate feminism, carceral feminism, or the place of disability rights within feminism, prepare to have your mind and heart opened.

The need to “do the work” has been a consistent message for would-be allies, particularly in the past few months. This book is an excellent resource for those willing to take up the call.

Hood Feminism: Notes from the Women That a Movement Forgot

By Mikki Kendall
Viking, 2020-07-07

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