The movement designed for women should not be forgetting them


Charlotte Burchetta '22

Hood Feminism awakens readers to the plot holes found in the feminist movement.

The feminist movement, described as the call to action for equal rights and opportunities for all women, only appears to fulfill its mission of justice.  Ms. Mikki Kendall’s collection of political non-fiction essays, Hood Feminism: Notes from the Women that a Movement Forgot (2020), dives into themes of race, violence, social justice, hunger, hypersexualization, the stigma surrounding mental health, privilege, and survival.  Ms. Kendall pulls her own experience into her essays, encouraging readers to examine feminist issues that do not apply specifically to white women.  Ms. Kendall correctly asserts in her book that Black women receive a lack of support in a crusade supposedly designed for all women.

Hood Feminism unwinds over 18 essays, with titles including “Solidarity Is Still for White Women,” “Hunger,” and “Of #FastTailedGirls and Freedom.”  The overlapping ideas center around the claim that the modern feminist movement focuses on the rights of middle and upper class white women, and often denies and overlooks the most basic concerns of women of color.

Ms. Mikki Kendall is a critically acclaimed author, raised in Hyde Park in Chicago, IllinoisCourtesy of Ms. Elaine Chung

By definition, feminism is “the advocacy of women’s rights based on the equality of the sexes,” according to  In the first essay in the collection, “Solidarity Is Still for White Women,” Ms. Kendall explains how the movement has consistently used a “one size fits all” approach to tackle gender inequality.  However, this plan has failed and has instead isolated women of color and transgender women, who are not treated equally in the movement.  Ms. Kendall notes that Black women often lose job opportunities due to their “ethnic-sounding” names or specific hairstyles, yet traditional feminism denies the fact that they face more obstacles than white, cisgender women.

“A one-size-fits-all approach to feminism is damaging, because it alienates the very people it is supposed to serve, without ever managing to support them,” Ms. Kendall said.

Statistics on earnings and wages show that women make an average of 77 cents for every dollar a man makes.  This statistic also varies based on race.  While white women make an average of 81 cents in comparison to white men, Black women typically earn only 75 cents, according to  However, this wage inequality between Black women and white women is often ignored.

Wage disparities, which also vary based on specific jobs and employment rates, are not the only neglected element of the movement.  Mainstream feminists often comply with a specific career route that tells them to obtain a certain occupation.  This stereotype of how women should go about their own lives overlooks the challenges that women of color face and places a negative connotation on women who have strayed away from this expectation.

In her essay entitled “Hunger,” Ms. Kendall reframes food accessibility as a feminist issue.  In the United States, approximately 42 million people fight hunger issues daily.  This includes problems such food deserts, grocery store scarcity, food insecurity, and a lack of access to affordable, healthy produce.  Statistics show that more than half of these people are women, with single mothers managing 66 percent of households dealing with hunger, according to

As Ms. Kendall explains, wage inequalities for women of color further provoke hardship in buying food.  The principle of paid maternity leave is beneficial, however, society forgets that women, who could not even afford to feed themselves, now have to feed a baby as well.  Mothers have to spend money that would go towards food on necessities for the baby.  What happens when the mother cannot afford childcare?  She runs the risk of losing her job.

Access to food is a basic human right.  Hunger in society is frequently seen as the fault of those who suffer, rather than a failure of the systems put in place to serve them.  As a result, communities criticize and judge mothers who have to rely on free school lunches, food stamps, and food banks.

“Indeed, we treat poverty itself like a crime, like the women experiencing it are making bad choices for themselves and their children,” Ms. Kendall said.  “We ignore that they don’t have a good choice available, that they are making decisions in the space where the handholds are tenuous or nonexistent.”

The feminist movement often ignores the fact that, in addition to gender, race also impacts the wage gap.  Courtesy of

Many people argue that when women buy unhealthy foods, they put their children at risk for obesity.  As a result, government officials in major cities, such as Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and San Francisco, California, enforce a soda tax on beverages with artificial sweeteners.  The reason behind the tax is to prevent obesity, diabetes, and liver problems in the next generation and to encourage families to maintain a healthier lifestyle, according to

Although the soda tax appears to combat the issue of food-related medical conditions, it actually targets individuals who do not have access to affordable, healthy produce, disregarding the actual problem of hunger.  The price of beverages can increase up to two dollars with the tax, and for women who are using food stamps and have limited money to spend, this eliminates a primary aspect of their diet.  Buying soda is about survival, not lacking judgment.  The notion that women are lazy and neglectful for buying less nutritious options for themselves and their children is harmful because more often than not, the stores in close proximity to where they live do not sell fresh produce, and if they do, it is more expensive than a bag of chips would be.

Viking Press published Hood Feminism earlier this year.  The essay collection is a New York Times Bestseller and a Best Book of 2020 by Bustle and BBC.  It also received recognition from The Washington Post, USA Today, and the National Public Radio (NPR), according to

Ms. Kendall argues that members of society cannot continue to ignore problems that do not directly affect them.  Many white women are born with privilege, and therefore have the capability and resources to change the way that others view Black women.  Clearly, white women may still face strifes concerning opportunity, but these issues do not stem from systemic racism.  The feminist movement holds the ability to create a common connection and sisterhood, but women must also go beyond this and mobilize themselves with that power.

“Bringing about feminist changes will only be truly possible if mainstream feminism works to combat discrimination in all its forms, from gender to class and race,” Ms. Kendall said.  “True equity starts with ensuring that everyone has access to the most basic of needs.”

Featured Image by Charlotte Burchetta ’22