As a 24 year old self-proclaimed Intersectional Feminist, or as I like to say a “Third Wave Shawty,” I am constantly seeking to grow in consciousness while trying to navigate this increasingly complex world, whereby I find myself retreating into a world of books. As such, I have amassed a collection of books that are sure to get you “Woke”, make you aware of becoming a more active participant in bettering the world around you, and exposes you to diverse voices and experiences that nevertheless will resonate with you as a reader.
A Colony in a Nation by Chris Hayes
Hayes explores the condition of Black America by elucidating on the fact that blacks as a people are not afforded the protections of citizens of this “Nation”, but instead exist within a “Colony”, subjected to racial oppression and murderous police violence. A Colony in a Nation is an important read because it exposes biases within the criminal justice system, whereby POC (people of color) live amongst a different set of laws that seek to further subjugate and destroy the black body. It also forces the reader to examine privilege, not just through policy and legislation, but through ideas and attitudes that may be difficult for many.
A Sister Outsider by Audrey Lorde
Through a collection of essays, Audre Lorde expounds on the concept of Feminism from an intersectional perspective. She criticizes the history of mainstream feminism’s concern with white female interest and their role of silencing the narratives of WOC (women of color), giving black women a voice who have been denied their womanhood through two oppressive systems of race and sex, not to mention the importance of transforming silence into language and action. I love Audre Lorde because her work has an uncanny ability to tackle issues of race, class, gender, and sexuality in such a profound way, not to mention the importance of “Difference” in not viewing it through a binary lens built on hierarchy but as a necessity in understanding and appreciating the diversity of us all.
Freedom is a Constant Struggle: Ferguson, Palestine and Foundations of a Movement by Angela Davis
In her brilliant collection of essays and speeches, the formidable public intellectual and real life revolutionary, Angela Davis, admonishes oppressed people to see their struggle for equality as a collective effort that must include all marginalized groups across the globe. The book makes a strong argument for the need for solidarity among and between social movements to achieve common goals, namely liberation from racism, sexism, Islamophobia, homophobia, and all other strata used to justify the status quo. Most notably, she provides examples of how social activists from other nations have advised other groups (Palestinian activists provided tips to Black Lives Matter protestors in Ferguson, on how to deal with tear gas used by militarized police.) Dr. Davis cautions minority groups against turning inward and focusing myopically on their own pain (or as I call it, participating in “Oppression Olympics”), but instead implores them to reach across and join hands with all victims of discrimination. After all, until all are free, none are free.
Why Am I Not a Feminist by Jessa Crispin
Although the title is misleading, Jessa Crispin takes a hard look at the overall structure of feminism today, criticizing it as not being too radical and essentially playing straight into the system of capitalist patriarchy. Though I did not agree with some of her points, mainly in that her language regarding POCs was too muted and not aggressive enough, Crispin does a good job in expounding on how the world is becoming more hyper-masculinized, in that women aren’t looking to dismantle patriarchy but simply seeking to secure a slice of the “patriarchal pie” and being seduced by its values, which begs to ask the question “What is it that Feminism today really wants?” Feminism is more than rocking a fashionable self-proclaimed and over priced t-shirt from Urban Outfitters, almost like something you can buy, nor is it securing self-interest and domination through the mantra of “Girl Power”, but more so a collective approach and inclusion of all groups, including men by bringing them into the conversation, as well as women that still seek to hold on to more traditional roles of womanhood. I like Crispin’s piece because it forces you to question and re-examine which is central to consciousness raising.