Hood Feminism | Mikki Kendall

Summary of: Hood Feminism: Notes from the Women That a Movement Forgot
By: Mikki Kendall

Introduction

In ‘Hood Feminism: Notes from the Women That a Movement Forgot’, Mikki Kendall sheds light on the often overlooked issues faced by women of color and the failures of mainstream feminism to address these challenges. Through personal stories and powerful insights, Kendall highlights how feminism has frequently been an exclusive space for white, privileged women, leaving behind marginalized voices. By delving into critical topics such as poverty, safety, reproductive rights, and beauty standards, the book calls for a radical shift towards inclusive feminism that stands in solidarity with women of color, working towards true equity for all.

Inclusivity in Feminism

The feminist movement often excludes women of color and fails to address the issues that matter to them. Author Mikki Kendall’s grandmother, although not identifying as a feminist, embodied true feminism by focusing on the struggles that affected her personally. Despite the contributions of women of color to the feminist movement, their needs and experiences are often overlooked. In order to achieve true equity, feminism must become inclusive and support women of color.

Overlooking Realities of Poverty

Around 42 million Americans suffer from hunger regularly, with more than 70% of them being women and children living below the poverty line. Despite the struggle with poverty and hunger, feminism has not adequately addressed the plight of these less-privileged Americans. This is the key message of this book, and the author’s personal experience serves as a powerful testament to the everyday challenges faced by millions of Americans. The book also highlights some supposedly progressive policies that do more harm than good, such as soda taxes, which further burden the poor. Additionally, women of color may lose out to white women in the property market, worsening gentrification and forcing the less privileged out of affordable areas. Even as poverty puts many families’ lives at risk, feminism often overlooks the problem. The author argues that progressive thinking must incorporate the realities of poverty and take action to support those affected.

Black Girls Are Not “Fast”

Growing up under poverty, Black girls lack support and are victim-blamed for sexual abuse. They do not receive adequate help and guidance to cope with the damaging situations they face. School officers can cause more harm than safety, as Black students particularly suffer from brutality and a higher chance of criminal records. Society is failing young women of color.

Black Girls’ Body Image Issues

Black girls face unique body image challenges, including colorism, which can lead to discrimination and the use of dangerous bleaching creams. Despite feminist conversations about beauty culture and eating disorders, these topics are often approached from a white perspective, leaving girls of color overlooked. The “strong Black woman” stereotype further perpetuates this issue, causing vulnerabilities to be ignored. Feminism must strive to better understand and address the specific struggles that affect women and girls of color.

Parenting, Reproductive Rights, and Privilege

Poverty intersects with parenting and reproductive rights complicated by race; privileged people must lend support.

Kendall reflects on her childhood, where her aunt protected her family during an incident with an uncle wielding a gun. Kendall realized that parenting with limited resources can be exceptionally challenging. Poverty often forces tough choices that appear to others as neglect. Kendall highlights how privileged parents focus on organic food or other debates while disadvantaged parents concentrate on keeping their families safe.

Reproductive rights are also associated with foundational feminist issues that intersect with poverty and race. Kendall shared her personal experience of nearly losing her life during an abortion. However, pro-life campaigners abused her physically and emotionally, largely ignoring the unique situation she faced as a Black woman.

Black women face higher mortality rates during childbirth than White women, and the history of forced sterilizations in the US predominantly affects those who live in poverty. For instance, almost half of indigenous women were sterilized between 1970 and 1976. Even recently, nearly 150 female inmates in California were sterilized from 2006 to 2010. Those who do not face these concerns have the responsibility to support and uplift the oppressed sections of society.

In conclusion, parenting and reproductive rights overlap and have a unique impact on those living in poverty and facing racial discrimination. The privileged individuals need to support and advocate for those in need.

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