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Women, Race, & Class

4.28 of 5 stars 4.28  ·  rating details  ·  3,943 ratings  ·  102 reviews
A powerful study of the women's movement in the U.S. from abolitionist days to the present that demonstrates how it has always been hampered by the racist and classist biases of its leaders.
ebook, 288 pages
Published June 29th 2011 by Vintage (first published 1981)
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ONTD Feminism
LJ user gingersomething:

I really think this should be required reading for middle class white feminists struggling to comprehend intersectionality. Although, judging from that first goodreads review, maybe some are just beyond reach.
Ralowe Ampu
if you're ready to graduate from just holding intersectional complexity to doing justice along every axes of that intersection in due measure, then you should read these essays; that is, if you haven't already. i hate the shame that accompanies the canon when you're finally getting around to something that should be elemental. maybe i should let go of the shame. what's shameful is that if we're going under the assumption that this text is so widely read and familiar on such a scale then why are...more
Andrea
An important work marking the intersections of class, race and gender...and all the history behind people you've vaguely looked up to because no one ever talks about the way they really felt about Black people. So you can respect some of what they've done, but Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony and Margaret Sanger are forever debarred from my cannon of heroes.

In criticising the 14th and 15th amendments, Stanton and Anthony descended into a horrifying racism, and I believe Davis is right wh...more
Sarah
I adore this book. It is one of those books that blew apart the white middle class way I was raised, and it made me a smarter and better person. Her ideas are so powerful that they deserve to be read and reread.
Christy
This is one of the best histories of the feminist movement I've ever read. Most such histories have limited their scope to a particular issue (e.g., reproductive rights, suffrage, housework) and to a particular constituency (women of a particular race or class), but Davis masterfully brings together issues of reproductive rights (not just abortion but also forced sterilization), suffrage (for women and for black people), housework, equal pay for equal work, lynching, rape, and even more, all whi...more
J.P.
I loved this book! I learned a lot from this book that I think I would not have learned otherwise. She details the roles of Black women in the black community from slavery up through the modern era. The role of black women as equals to their men in regards to work during the time of slavery which is contrasted with the role of free white women in society at the time. Details of how class & race lines affected black women are detailed as well, the things they endured & what they would do...more
Aubrey
Women, Race & Class is a phenomenal book and great introduction to the issues of racism and classism in the feminist movement.

I'd recommend this book to anyone interested in race or gender issues, but who doesn't know where to begin.

Davis' book is a great starter for anyone interested in the history of the women's movement. The book begins with slavery and the abolitionist movement and moves into the women's suffrage movement, the fight for reproductive rights, labor struggles, housework and...more
Nikita T. Mitchell
A few months ago I started on a quest to educate myself about feminism, especially as it relates to black women. As a result, my GoodReads queue has become filled with books on beauty, books written by authors like Alice Walker and even couple books on hip-hop feminism. I've recently been introduced to authors like Bell Hooks, and I'm constantly learning of others to add to my list. As with my general fascination with learning, the more I read the more I realize I don't know and want to find out...more
Irn
Angela Davis is pretty awesome. I didn’t really know what to expect going into it, and it’s basically a historical examination of the intersection of struggles against sexism, racism, and classism. Or, more accurately, against slavery and lynching, against capitalism, and for woman suffrage and reproductive freedom. I think it’s interesting how Davis, at this point in time at least, certainly saw socialism (rooted in anti-racism and anti-sexism) as the answer to capitalist oppression. I really l...more
tamarack
Nov 12, 2007 tamarack rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
angela davis blows me away every time. reading her autobiography sent me searching for more, and after a fruitless search at the local library i bought this book for about a tenner. i don't/can't normally read books with titles like this one, so i really amazed how compelling this book is. each chapter has me furtively scribbling notes so i might pass on some of this wealth of knowledge and insight to my friends. unfortunately i lost those notes(!) so i'll have to condense it like this: women, r...more
Natalie
Overall, very informative, and Davis is an excellent writer.

I really loved the opening chapter of this book and how Davis points out the contributions of Black women, particularly under slavery, in redefining womanhood.

There were sections of the book that were so intense and troubling, I couldn't read more than a few pages at a time. The section on rape, and the myth of the Black rapist, was such a chapter - incredibly important, and utterly devastating.

Elements of the book were a little dated...more
Alaina
I really liked what & how Davis writes about the 19th century and don't care for what & how she writes about the 20th century. Regardless, this is an important book & I learned a lot.
Sally
I read this in my first women's studies class and was blown away. I need to get a copy so I can read it again now that I'll probably be able to appreciate a lot more the dynamics Davis discusses. This is a must-read for anyone interested in intersectionality, or each issue (gender, race, and class) individually.
Phillip
re-reading naked lunch made me want to review some social criticism and i love angela, so it was a no-brainer. just finished the second essay, powerful, clear writing. i feel such kinship with her perspectives, that's why i go back to her - 's like a pep talk from my higher self.
Yousef Mustafa
This book might be considered as a scripture for the students who majored in African American as well as Women Studies. Ms. Angela Davis has done a thorough and insightful analysis of the history of slavery and the black experience in the States.
Mykie
Why I read this book:
Angela Davis is a pioneer in terms of black liberation and gender equality. I have always admired and appreciated her writing and her being.

Content: 1/1
It’s important for readers to understand that this is not just a book about women, race and class. It is actually a study (and the contents reflect this) that digs into the racism that continues to take place in movements associated with women, race and class. It’s a very valid, legitimate and important study. I would have a...more
Rebekka Steg
Although first published in 1982, almost 30 years ago (the edition I read was published in 2002, but as far as I understand it is just a reprint, and no changes have been made), the book sadly remains just as relevant and important today. I say sadly, because Women, Race & Class shows how deeply rooted sexism and racism is in our current society, and the book might as easily have been written today, because the issues we face are pretty much identical.

In this book Davis eloquently shows how...more
Sam Orndorff
A very important book. Davis uses critical, cautious Marxian class analysis to trace the roots of injustice within the Abolitionist and Women's Suffragist movements. I learned a great deal. I found out Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony were at best flirting with racism and at worst outright bigots. Fredrick Douglas, conversely, was far ahead of his time in making the case for women's liberation.
It's very important to know where we came from. Even though women and black people can now...more
Aden Dohn
Angela owns!!! Angela owns!!!

dang good. must read text as part of understanding intersectionality.


"It would be a mistake to regard the institutionalized pattern of rape during slavery as an expression of white men’s sexual urges, otherwise stifled by the specter of white womanhood’s chastity. That would be far too simplistic an explanation. Rape was a weapon of domination, a weapon of repression, whose covert goal was to extinguish slave women’s will to resist, and in the process, to demoraliz...more
Keely Hyslop
Angela Davis drives home the point again and again that as long as anyone is still oppressed we are all oppressed. I really liked her discussion of how closely aligned the women's suffrage movement was with the abolitionist movement and how tensions arose when it became clear that women and black men would not get the vote simultaneously. It reminds me a great deal of the cracks that appeared in the progressive movement when Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama were both up for the presidency and th...more
Adrienne
In Women, Race & Class, Davis illustrates the beginnings of the women's rights movement and how it is intertwined with the movement to abolish slavery as well as the class struggle, the beginnings of the Socialist movement in our country. The information detailed is shocking and horrible as she shows racism from every side (on the white side) from slavery up to the 1960s and '70s, and she ranges in topics from rights to vote to forced sterilization.

I thought this book would bother me more t...more
Shanice
I've never read a more concise history of the feminist movement. And certainly not such an intersectional one. As someone who was introduced to feminism through mainstream feminism, I had no idea about so many of the wonderful Black women who helped shape the movement and, though I know about the racial tension within the movement (it's still felt today) mainstream feminism has a way of sweeping it under the rug. If you're interested in history told from the side of the marginalized start here.
Leah
I remember borrowing this book from the public library on Fordham Road when I was 15....it was the first book I ever took out and I never returned it. I poured over its pages. This turned me on to feminist research and critical theory in a way I can't full express. At 15 I knew the life of the mind was for me....which is crazy...
I've since donated a new copy....but I didn't explain to the librarians the circumstances of my donation.
Dawn
I read this as part of my research for my Masters thesis on African-American women's contemporary autobiography back when I was still in graduate school in 2000. Definitely, I consider Davis's book to be one of the classic, foundational works of feminism because it includes its intersection with race and class that cannot be ignored-- ultimately, an important book to have on one's shelf.
Shawn
Davis traces the history of women suffrage movements and women's roles in the slave abolition movement as well as the tensions between these two movements. She highlights white and black women who were champions of abolition and women's liberation and white women that were for women's rights to vote but held racist views of the day. She traces key women's liberation leaders who were involved in the labor movements and in communism. She has a really interesting chapter on the myth of the black ra...more
Nikhil
3.5 actually. Not as good as hooks' "Aint I a Woman." Focuses on an analysis of the struggle for womens' rights in the US and demonstrating how the mainstream movement was frequently pervaded by racist and classist ideology. Davis' is a bit too forgiving of patriarchal men of color (or liberation movements for POC that are intensely patriarchal). For example, she never calls DuBois out for believing in a very proscribed role for women, simply stating that he was an ardent supporter of women's su...more
Taylor McNeese
Amazing. An eye-opening book outlining the relationship of women, race, and class, including their internal conflicts and the ultimate conflicts with the capitalist structure. Davis has a strong knowledge of American history, especially Black American history, and has excellent insight into the flaws of grassroots left-wing political movements such as abolitionism and feminism. The writer also presents this interdisciplinary study in relation to various contemporary issues such as abortion right...more
Ariel
Women, Race, & Class is highly accessible analysis of race and class in abolition and labor movements. Angela Davis's critique has aged really well except maybe her call for the government to subsidize housework.

Davis's chapters are self-contained and so she ends up repeating information thought the book. Maybe this is just a genre convention of the field of history, but Davis also doesn't give context for quotes or tell us who she's quoting (you have to flip to the endnotes at the back of t...more
Meredith
I had to read this for class and I kept putting it off but when I finally started, I ended up reading the whole thing in a day. As a UCSC student, I know that Angela Davis is an important scholar in the feminist movement and this book lives up to her illustrious reputation. I learned a lot which surprised me because, as a senior fem studies major, I thought I'd heard it all. The book offers unique perspectives into the formation of the women's movement and how issues of race and class have been...more
Bucket
davis traces the race and class biases of the womens movement from the abolition days to present (the book was published in the early 80s). she raises a lot of important issues that are only beginning to be addressed in feminist writing. unlike hooks, davis is not a new movement cheerleader. women, race, and class is not an activist handbook for confronting racism and classism within political movements its a historicalanalytical work that dissects and racism and classism in the womens movement...more
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Angela Yvonne Davis is an American political activist, scholar, and author. She emerged as a nationally prominent activist and radical in the 1960s, as a leader of the Communist Party USA, and had close relations with the Black Panther Party through her involvement in the Civil Rights Movement despite never being an official member of the party. Prisoner rights have been among her continuing inter...more
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