Eloquent Rage | Brittney Cooper

Summary of: Eloquent Rage: A Black Feminist Discovers Her Superpower
By: Brittney Cooper


Welcome to the world of ‘Eloquent Rage,’ where Brittney Cooper, a Rutgers University professor and esteemed columnist, embarks on a journey to uncover centuries of complex emotions that Black women experience in a society affected by sexism and racism. Throughout this summary, you’ll explore the struggles faced by Black women both historically and in present times, as well as examining the concept of ‘sassiness’ and its rooted connection to repressed rage. Cooper shares personal accounts and expert insights into topics ranging from domestic violence and toxic masculinity, to police brutality and the role of celibacy in the lives of many Black women.

Cooper’s Anger

Rutgers professor Brittney Cooper boldly illustrates the racism and sexism experienced by Black women. In her book, she explains that Black women turn to sass when anger is too dangerous, as it puts their livelihoods at risk. Cooper discusses how white Americans have a misguided admiration for “sassy” black women, when they don’t understand that this is just a cover for the deep-seated anger and frustration bred by centuries of racism and sexism. Through both academic and street language, Cooper explores the history that led to this rage and how white America responds to it.

Inclusive Literature Matters

In “Eloquent Rage,” Brittney Cooper reflects on how inclusive literature could have spared her from years of racial trauma. Cooper’s personal account conveys the importance of inclusive literature that helps all children feel seen and valued. Despite the book’s heartrending anecdotes, it has received critical acclaim, including praise from Rebecca Solnit. Through this memoir, Cooper urges readers to broaden their understanding of race and the power of literature.

The Generational Trauma of Domestic Violence

In this book, Cooper shares how spousal abuse has plagued the women in her family for generations. She recounts how her mother suffered at the hands of two abusive Vietnam War veterans before finally marrying a man who broke the cycle of violence. Cooper reveals that she, too, experienced domestic abuse before she was born.

Cooper examines the link between the military and toxic masculinity, explaining how many Black men turned to military service as a means of achieving stability and success. However, after returning to civilian life, many Black veterans suffered from various issues, including violence, addiction, and mental illness. As a result, Black women became targets for displaced anger and frustration, resulting in increased domestic violence within the community. Cooper argues that white Americans were able to express their anger towards Black men and women without consequences, while Black families suffered the lasting impact of the violence. In this moving section of the book, Cooper demonstrates the difficulty Black men face and how it can manifest into violence against Black women.

Unpunished Police Violence Against Black Women

The book discusses the unpunished police violence against black women, citing the case of Sandra Bland, a Black Lives Matter activist. Bland was arrested and later found hanged with a trash bag in her cell, sparking outrage among Black Americans. The author challenges the police’s account, arguing that “rogue police officers” were responsible for Bland’s death, highlighting the brutal and inhumane treatment of black women by law enforcement agencies. This chapter brings to light the injustices faced by black women and the urgent need for police reform.

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