In a political climate where there is a fast-growing awareness of how unfairly women are being treated at work, in school, and at home, it’s imperative to ensure that there aren’t women’s voices who are being left out of the conversation. I constantly hear conversations about whether or not the hijab can be a feminist statement, with few hijabi women weighing in on the discussion. I see white female celebrities in the #MeToo movement being featured prominently, while Black women’s accusations are often suppressed. Intersectional feminism has always been necessary, but when Kimberlé Crenshaw coined the term, marginalized women were already living the reality of the concept of intersectionality.
The following list moves the focus away from the needs, words, and voices of white, cishet, non-disabled affluent women. This list brings intersectional feminism to the forefront. It’s critical for us to recognize that we are not the same, that some of us are facing a double-bind or triple-bind of oppression, and all of us deserve to be free. True freedom is when we are all liberated — not just a privileged few. Like Audre Lorde said, “I am not free while any woman is unfree, even when her shackles are very different from my own.”
If you come across pretty much any Black feminist, they’re bound to list Audre Lorde as an inspiration. For me, I feel seen as another queer Black woman in Lorde’s work. Her 1984 speech, The Master’s Tools Will Never Dismantle The Master’s House, profoundly influenced my activism by forcing me to see that we can never achieve freedoms through systems designed to oppress and dehumanize us. We have to break open those systems and start again.
Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor (Editor)
While Black feminist and legal scholar Kimberlé Crenshaw might have coined intersectionality, lesbian Black women of the Combahee River Collective had already been discussing and exploring the “interlocking” of oppressions and the ways race, gender and sexuality combine to further discriminate against Black women. They even dared to imagine a freedom that was centered around the freedom of Black lesbians.
Brittney C. Cooper
Eloquent Rage is a powerful examination of Black women’s anger, the cost for Black women who choose to be angry, and how all of this is rooted in misogynoir – or, racist and sexist oppression. Cooper gives us hope, reminding us that we can be powerful and we don’t have to settle for less.
Trinh T. Minh-Ha
This is a powerful classic around postcolonial feminist theory, one that pushes against erasure as a means of achieving unified feminism. The book articulates a need for a feminism that fights against different forms of oppression because women are oppressed in a myriad of ways. Minh-Ha also pushes against anything that “others” people or ideas that are non-western and non-white.
Cherríe Moraga (Editor) and Gloria Anzaldúa (Editor)
This Bridge Called My Back is the feminist anthology of our time. Featuring poetry, essays, interviews, and art from women of all backgrounds, it’s a meditation of what is possible for feminism.
June Eric-Udorie is a British writer and feminist activist. Named Elle UK’s “Female Activist of the Year” for 2017, she has been included on lists of influential and inspiring women by the BBC, the Guardian, and more. A co-founder of “Youth for Change,” an initiative that works to combat female genital mutilation and forced marriage around the world, her advocacy has taken her to classrooms, the Southbank Centre’s Women of the World Festival, the United Nations, and more. She is currently at Duke University, where she is a recipient of the University Scholars merit scholarship, established by Melinda French Gates, and a Human Rights Scholar at the Kenan Institute for Ethics.
New Writing from Brit Bennett, Nicole Dennis-Benn, and 15 Others on Intersectionality, Identity, and the Way Forward for Feminism
Edited by June Eric-Udorie