Mikki Kendall’s Hood Feminism is the call to action for mainstream feminism to broaden its agenda to recognize women's struggles who are often unheard and unseen. Through a fascinating collection of essays, Mikki gives it to us straight, with honesty, tact, and hope.
In her opening essay, “Solidarity is Still For White Women,” Mikki discusses the disillusion of white women’s attempts to foster solidarity within the feminist movement. Mikki breaks down the pecking order of women’s equality, noting that white women typically achieve equality before women of color. And this hierarchy is engrained in the makings of the movement. It is also perpetuated by the movement’s policies today.
Mikki’s hashtag #solidarityisforwhitewomen discussed how white women continuously fail to show up for women of color when it comes to reaching equality. Mikki’s comments received pushback from many white women who claimed that criticism from within the movement (i.e., Mikki’s hashtag) did not serve any purpose.
However, the blind eye toward Mikki’s claims outlines the very issue within the movement: white women can quiet the noise from non-white women within the movement if it does not align with their idea of what feminism should be.
Essays like “Reproductive Justice” tackle women of color’s unique experiences as it relates to motherhood and health care. Mikki explains how white feminism rarely shows up to discuss the very distinct issues that black mothers face every day; from receiving helpful resources during pregnancy to having basic needs met for their families.
Mikki also describes her reproductive struggles, offering the details of her five pregnancies where only two ended in live births. Mikki calls for the reframing of reproductive justice to consider “the entire spectrum of choices surrounding every stage of women’s health.” She pushes mainstream feminism to understand that health care issues are systemic and include a racially-charged agenda.
Hood Feminism doesn’t just expose. It educates. It refines. It embraces. As a contributing member of the feminist movement, Mikki urges for change. And she proves that she can do so because she sees the world with a wide lens, one that considers all the unique experiences and struggles of women of color.
Mikki Kendall’s Hood Feminism is a demanding plea to mainstream feminism to consider the past’s racial history and how it affects the movement’s present reality. She encourages all to be anti-racist as the fight of this movement progresses.
feminism; race; violence; social justice; hunger; hypersexualization; mental health; privilege
“One of the biggest issues with mainstream feminist writing has been the way the idea of what constitutes a feminist issue is framed. We rarely talk about basic needs as a feminist issue. Food insecurity and access to quality education, safe neighborhoods, a living wage, and medical care are all feminist issues. Instead of a framework that focuses on helping women get basic needs met, all too often the focus is not on survival but on increasing privilege. For a movement that is meant to represent all women, it often centers on those who already have most of their needs met.”
“My feminism doesn’t center on those who are comfortable with the status quo because ultimately that road can never lead to equity for girls like me.”
“The myth of the Strong Black Woman has made it so that white women can tell themselves that it is okay to expect us to wait to be equal with them, because they need it more. The fact that Black women are supposedly tougher than white women means that we are built to face abuse and ignorance, and that our need for care or concern is less pressing.”
“When feminist rhetoric is rooted in biases like racism, ableism, transmisogyny, anti-semitism, and islamophobia, it automatically works against marginalized women and against any concept of solidarity. It’s not enough to know that other women with different experiences exist; you must also understand that they have their own feminism formed by that experience.”