Book Review: Black Feminist Thought (Patricia Hill Collins)

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Alexandra Bobet
HIST 3119
Spring 2013
Black Feminist Thought: Knowledge, Consciousness, and the Politics of Empowerment (review)
Black Feminist Thought: Knowledge, Consciousness, and the Politics of Empowerment. Ed. By Patricia Hill Collins. (New York: Routledge, 2000. ii, 336 pp. Cloth, $128.28, ISBN 0-415-92483-9. Paper, $26.21, 0-415-92484-7.)

Patricia Hill Collins’s work, Black Feminist Thought seeks to center Black Women into intersectionalist thought, addressing the power struggles that face them not only due to their race but also to the gender. Masculine rhetoric and powerful male leaders such as Huey P. Newton and Eldridge Cleaver have overshadowed Black Women’s stories, both in and out of the Civil Right Rights/Black Power Era. It is an analysis that defines Black Feminist Thought, instead of recycling former White Feminist philosophies and providing interpretations of them. However, she does integrate consciousness raising into the body of work, drawing in from her personal experiences while analyzing the texts of women such as Alice Walker and bell hooks. The second edition of Black Feminist Thought differs from the first in both the complexity and the depth of oppression and empowerment, spanning into a transnational level.

Collins breaks down her novel into three parts. Part I: The Social Construction of Feminist Thought, Part II: Core Themes in Black Feminist Thought, and Part III: Black Feminism, Knowledge, and Power.

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Part I: The Social Construction of Feminist Thought covers the history of oppression of black women from various sectors. White feminism has failed women which use of essentialist philosophy, which Collins uses in the relationship between Rebecca Felton and Ida B Wells, the former praised by White feminists even though she was an advocate of lynching. Collins touches upon Black leadership and how it has addressed gender, in particular the case of Elaine Brown and the Black Panther Party of Oakland. Among...
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