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8 Books on Feminism/ Womanism Everyone Should Read

Updated: Apr 30, 2019

Discover the word, then spread the word.

Coined by our friend, Kimberly Crenshaw, the word "intersectionality" speaks volumes to who we are as Black women. Taking the necessary time to dissect the common tropes of womanhood in the current social and political climate is fundamental to our mental and emotional well-being. The amount of content and digital spaces we have to retreat to are amazing, but sometimes these topics require a more in-depth analysis and conversation. Here are 8 books on feminism/ womanism that everyone should read:

1. But some of us are brave: All the Women are White, All the Blacks are Men: Black Women’s Studies by Akasha Gloria Hull, Patricia Bell-Scott and Barbara Smith

This is an amazing and foundational collection of essays curated by Akasha Gloria Hull, Patricial Bell Scott, and Barbara Smith (with a new afterword by Brittney Cooper). Each essay is focused on the politics, and history of women of color. These essays serve as a great entry point into feminist literature that focuses on women of color. In this book, like other anthologies, you’re able to capture a broad range of perspectives that help widen one’s view of feminism with an understanding that it is not monolithic.

2. Bad Feminist by Roxanne Gay

In the spirit of broadening perspectives, Roxanne Gay’s bad feminist deals with themes of not conforming to traditional views of feminism. In this book she goes into the popular ideas and perceptions about feminism that would generally place her outside of that box. I found this book extremely relatable and intellectually expansive.

3. Sister Outsider by Audre Lorde

In this collection of essays and speeches, Audre Lorde discusses the nuances of being a Black female writer and the reasons why having constructional conversations about race, sex, and sexuality is important. This is a must read for every person looking to discuss female and queer representation in literature and the implications that come with exclusion.

4. This Will be my Undoing by Morgan Jenkins

This was, hands down, one of the best books on the topic of modern womanism. As a millennial, I found the book highly relatable and even a bit intrusive. Morgan Jenkins uses this book as a sort of coming-of-age nonfiction group of essays that explore all aspects of finding herself as a Black woman in America. This is a must read for millennial women of color still finding their footing in modern-day womanism.

5. Dear Ijeawele, or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions by Chiamanda Ngozi Adichie

This is a very short, snack-sized, book by none other than the amazing Chiamanda Ngozi Adichie. In this book, Adichie writes a letter to her sister about how to raise her new daughter in a way in that she doesn’t succumb to the patriarchal ideals of society. In my opinion, this book is reminiscent of Ta-nehisi Coates' Between the World and Me—except for feminists.

6. When Chickenheads Come home to roost: A Hip-Hop Feminist Breaks it Down by Joan Morgan

When Chickenheads Come Home to Roost is an extremely unique piece of literature in that it offers perspective as a feminist involved in today’s problematic Hip Hop culture. It explores ideas on how we come to terms in our identity in hip hop, while also being involved in feminism and womanism. Does our love for Hip Hop and the culture that Hip hop produces invalidate our standing as feminists?

7. Black Feminist Thought: Knowledge, Consciousness and the Politics of Empowerment by Patricia Hill Collins

This is a classic read by Patricia Hill Collins that dives into how feminism can be used to press society forward in all aspects of power (home life, politics, academia, and business) by analyzing the work of a few prolific intellectual women. Like the other writers on this list, Collins discusses different aspects of the internationalities of being black and female in a patriarchal society, using themes of resilience and perseverance in everyday life.

8. Unapologetic: A Black, Queer and Feminist Mandate for Radical Movements by Charlene Carruthers

In this book, Curruthers discusses inclusion in order to pave new roads for those to come from the perspective of an LGBTQ feminist activist. Curruthers unapologetically discusses the need for open dialogue and opportunity for Black and Queer women and how the expansion into elite spaces is important in pushing society forward.

No matter which term you choose to coin yourself as—or which term you choose not to coin yourself as, these books are here to help you educate yourself so that the world may become a better place. As always, Indulge Endlessly.

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