50 pages 1 hour read

Mikki Kendall

Hood Feminism: Notes from the Women That a Movement Forgot

Nonfiction | Book | Adult | Published in 2020

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Summary and Study Guide

Overview

Published in 2020, Hood Feminism: Notes on the Women That a Movement Forgot is a nonfiction work by cultural critic and writer Mikki Kendall, whose Twitter hashtag #SolidarityIsForWhiteWomen sparked an ongoing conversation about the need for an intersectional feminism. Over the course of an Introduction and 18 chapters, Kendall engages in feminist critique that centers the experiences of Black women concerning issues such as reproductive justice, poverty, and the patriarchy. This guide is based on the 2020 Viking print edition.

Summary

In the Introduction, Kendall uses autobiography and Black feminist theory to explain that feminism has long marginalized the experiences of Black women, particularly ones from under-resourced communities (i.e., the “hood”). If feminism is to remain relevant, it must become intersectional by paying attention to these women, their needs, and the particularities of their experiences.

In Chapter 1, “Solidarity Is Still for White Women,” Kendall observes that contemporary feminism has lost its legitimacy because it only serves the interests of affluent, middle-class, and professional White women. To retain the relevancy of the movement, White feminists need to learn to be good allies to other women.

In Chapter 2, “Gun Violence,” Kendall argues that gun violence is a feminist issue because it has a disproportionate impact on Black women and girls. In Chapter 3, “Hunger,” Kendall situates food insecurity and hunger as feminist issues that White feminists have ignored because of their class-based blinders. In Chapter 4, “Of #FastTailedGirls and Freedom,” Kendall discusses how labeling Black girls and girls of color as sexually precocious (“fast”) is a wrongheaded approach to an enduring epidemic of sexual violence.

In Chapter 5, “It’s Raining Patriarchy,” Kendall notes that patriarchy appears in culturally specific ways, and Black women and girls have responded to it by engaging in code switching; still, they need help inside and outside of their communities to counter patriarchy. This work must ultimately center the voices of Black women, however. In Chapter 6, “How to Write About Black Women,” Kendall argues that Black respectability class politics within Black communities and tone policing of Black women by White feminists must stop.

Chapter 7, “Pretty for a…” is an exploration of colorism and texturism (prioritizing straighter hair over coily/curly hair) as political issues that should concern mainstream feminists. In Chapter 8, “Black Girls Don’t Have Eating Disorders,” Kendall argues that the centering of the experiences of White, middle-class girls and women has erased the reality that eating disorders have an impact on Black women and girls.

In Chapter 9, “The Fetishization of Fierce,” Kendall interrogates the concept of fierceness and discovers that it supports cultural stereotypes of women of color as so strong that they do not deserve or need help from White feminists. In Chapter 10, “The Hood Doesn’t Hate Smart People,” Kendall debunks the notion that working-class Black people and children hate smart Black kids. Chapter 11, “Missing and Murdered,” highlights the epidemic of missing and murdered Indigenous women and women of color. Lack of research on this issue and criminal justice policies are impediments to addressing the epidemic.

In Chapter 12, “Fear and Feminism,” Kendall argues that White women, including feminists, are complicit in White supremacy because it preserves their privilege. White women need to do work in their own communities and families to address this issue. In Chapter 13, “Race, Poverty, and Politics,” Kendall explores the white supremacist roots of feminism’s history. Pivoting from the history requires that feminism pay more attention to issues such as voting rights access.

In Chapter 14, “Education,” Kendall argues that teacher and peer bullying, the school-to-prison pipeline, and policies that disproportionately affect students with disabilities and students of color prevent schools from being effective and safe spaces. In Chapter 15, “Housing,” Kendall posits that affordable and accessible housing is so central to economic well-being that feminists should pay more attention to the issue.

In Chapter 16, “Reproductive Justice, Eugenics, and Maternal Mortality,” Kendall centers the experiences of Black women, Indigenous women, and women with disabilities to advance a more inclusive approach to advocating for reproductive rights. In Chapter 17, “Parenting While Marginalized,” Kendall uses statistics and anecdotes to highlight how the concerns of parents and families of color differ from those of privileged people.

Chapter 18, “Allies, Anger, and Accomplices,” is Kendall’s call to arms for mainstream feminists and Black feminists to go from being sometime allies to being accomplices who show up for the most vulnerable people. By centering the experiences of women who have the least and who are the most vulnerable, Kendall helps the reader to see the potential of feminism when it is more inclusive and intersectional.

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