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“Hood Feminism” by Mikki Kendall is a Must-Read

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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UC Riverside chapter.

It was while promoting her sophomore album, GUTS, that pop singer Olivia Rodrigo brought up that she had recently read Mikki Kendall’s 2020 book Hood Feminism: Notes From the Women That a Movement Forgot. Although I had heard of Kendall’s work prior, Rodrigo’s recommendation brought the book to the top of my to-be-read list. That, combined with a newfound interest in picking up more nonfiction books, spurred me to finally read the collection of essays about the layered reality of intersectional feminism. 

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Kendall intertwines her lived experiences as a Black woman raised in the South Side of Chicago and discussion on various feminist issues in order to convey how feminism is not as simple as women being considered equal to men. Especially for Black women and women of color, the truth is that feminism has not been an inclusive movement. White women are typically who society looks at when dealing with feminist topics, from pay disparity to abortion rights. The women most affected by these issues are seldom given the same level of attention and support.

Throughout the series of chapters, Kendall emphasizes that ignoring whole communities and subsects of women of different backgrounds in twenty-first century feminism is a debilitating disservice. In the first chapter titled “Solidarity is Still For White Women,” Kendall expresses, “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” (7). This is further backed by examples of how mainstream feminism often utilizes seclusionary ideology like ableism and Islamophobia in their arguments. How can one expect a diverse group of individuals to continuously align with feminism if aspects of their identity are seen as not feminist enough? 

That is not the only facet Kendall unravels in her work. In another chapter titled “The Hood Doesn’t Hate Smart People,” she elaborates on how “We treat being poor, being from the inner city, being from the country as reasons to be ashamed even though no one controls the circumstances of their own birth” (139). Feminism has to consider more factors than just gender for it to prosper. Class, and classism in turn, are key factors in how women  perceive  themselves and how they approach the world. Therefore, it is important to deconstruct the unwarranted beliefs about being poor that exist in feminist ideals

Hood Feminism proves that there is a lot about feminism that we as a society must talk about more. The future of being a feminist involves acknowledging ways the movement has been failing and how we can fix that. It begins with talking with friends and family, diversifying the media we consume, and challenging society’s expectations of what a feminist looks and acts like. I must say, reading this book is a great way to expand on your feminist journey.

Alyssa Gordon

UC Riverside '24

Hi, I'm Alyssa! I'm a fourth-year Media and Cultural Studies major with an English minor. I love anything pop culture and baking related. When I'm not writing, I can be found reading or rewatching episodes of my favorite 2010's sitcoms.