I Wanna be Literated #163

I Wanna be Literated #163

Thursday, 07 September 2017

Ain’t I a Woman: Black Women and Feminism
by bell hooks

Has there ever been a better time to read bell hooks? Sure, it’s never been a bad time to read bell hooks, but you get what I mean. Even though some of her books were written decades ago, bell hooks is someone who has remained relevant even today. Ain’t I a Woman is definitely one of those books.

In Ain’t I a Woman, hooks essentially discusses the struggles of black women in the fight against racism and sexism. As a disenfranchised group, black women were fighting a war on many fronts, against sexism in their race, and racism in their sex. This complex issue is discussed masterfully by hooks who manages to present her ideas clearly and consistently and using common language. Although a rather short book, hooks discusses the history of slavery and racism in the USA and how it related to black women, the role of black men and their disenfranchisement of women, the role of white women and feminists and their failure to recognize black women in their struggle for equal rights, and the role of black women themselves and how they’re victims of a society whose main interest is to keep them obedient. Ain’t I a Woman is definitively not a book that becomes unreadable due to academic language and jargon. It’s straight, to the point and powerful.

More than I ever I have become aware of the criticism thrown hooks’ way of how her books don’t contain enough references. I found that not to be the case exactly as hooks is quoting interviews with women she’s done herself (how does one cite that?) or frequently mentions articles and books that she’s discussing. That said, there are many times when hooks drops a bomb and offers no references for it. Like “Consequently, it can be easily argued that even though white men institutionalized slavery, white women were its most immediate beneficiaries.” An interesting argument that hooks explores a little more but fails to provide any references for.

That said, Ain’t I a Woman is a remarkable book full of powerful ideas and analyses, and like I said, is as relevant now as it was 30 years ago.


Get it from Routledge.

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