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Black Feminist Thought: Knowledge, Consciousness, and the Politics of Empowerment

4.38  ·  Rating details ·  4,735 ratings  ·  125 reviews
In spite of the double burden of racial and gender discrimination, African-American women have developed a rich intellectual tradition that is not widely known. In Black Feminist Thought, Patricia Hill Collins explores the words and ideas of Black feminist intellectuals as well as those African-American women outside academe. She provides an interpretive framework for ...more
Paperback, 336 pages
Published December 9th 1999 by Routledge (first published 1990)
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 ·  4,735 ratings  ·  125 reviews

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Sep 01, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: race, feminism, sociology
"Race and gender may be analytically distinct, but in Black women’s everyday lives, they work together.” - Patricia Hill Collins, Black Feminist Thought

I find it difficult to summarize books like this, ones which contain such comprehensive content. Although focusing on African-American feminist theory, Collins says the theory can be applied to any black diasporic woman because, “Women of African descent are dispersed globally, yet the issues we face may be similar.”

And reading the content I beli
Jul 31, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Not really a review, more a butterfly-view.

I had a rare flash of brilliance and decided to read the glossary first. This kind of sensible idea rarely occurs to me. I was immediately struck by Collins' definition of

intersectionality: analysis claiming that systems of race, social class, gender, sexuality, ethnicity, nation and age form mutually constructing features of social organisation, which shape Black women's experiences and, in turn, are shaped by Black women

In other words, intersectional
Everyone should read this book. I read this for the first time during a women's studies course as an undergrad, but it works so well, as she states, outside of academia. I find her analysis of Black female blues singers as a source of feminist thought especially interesting. Anyone and everyone interested in social justice should read this book. And then read it again.
Jan 03, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: grad-school
What I loved the most about this book is that it is an academic text, but PCH doesn't waste time with jargon. If she uses it, she defines it almost immediately. There is also a glossary in the back of the book. A book that I will use a lot. So happy I was pushed to revisit this text.
In my own work I write no only what I want to read—understanding fully and indelibly that if I don't do it no one else is so vitally interested, or capable of doing it to my satisfaction—I write all the things I should have been able to read[.]

-Alice Walker

[I]t is axiomatic that if we do not define ourselves for ourselves, we will be defined by others—for their use and to our detriment[.]

-Audre Lorde
It's been good to get back into theory after so long a drought. My eagerness to rid my s
Tifanny Burks
Jul 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Another book where I am not the same person at the end that I was at the beginning.

This book was healing to read. I feel seen. This book is another thank you to black women who give me expansive language to articulate my lived experiences under multiple forms of oppression.

I am thankful for now revisiting this book 3 years later with a different lens of being a community organizer.

The best part about this book 📖 is that it joins the league of books written by other black feminist scholars tha
Mar 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
Took a long time for me to finish this book, as it is very much a textbook...and I've been out of grad school for a few years now. The most recent edition isn't available at my library, so I read this 2nd Ed. I may still seek out the newer edition.

Recommended for anyone interested in feminist theories, political thought, and human rights
This book creates an argument about the particular experiences of groups of people and overarching theories of knowledge. It says that if a group of people, in this case US Black women, is consistently ruled untrustworthy or unknowledgeable, a major epistemological shift is required to get other groups of people to hear their testimony and expertise. This is something I've been thinking about a lot. I felt validated seeing this idea spelled out so beautifully and clearly by an African American s ...more
Mar 07, 2008 rated it really liked it
She offers an explored analysis of the intersections of race, gender, sexuality and class as well as its practical applications. She discuss self-identification, the politics of self empowerment, how woman are essential elements in nationalist thinking and etc. I do wish she discussed the politics of sexuality a bit more.
Oct 08, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This book blew my mind. One of the most impressive parts of it is P.H.C.'s command of black women's history in the U.S. It's so exciting to read about women who have produced "black feminist thought" in the U.S. through writing, music, and oral history since early 1800s, and before.
Sarah Hackley
Sep 22, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Sarah by: BLS 3024
While I enjoyed her theories, her writing style is unnecessarily obtuse and repetitive.
Linda Le
Oct 12, 2010 rated it it was amazing
if u claim that u're an ally/progressive advocate of feminism, then do urself a favor & read this ...more
Oct 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Brought together a lot of different things that I had kind of but not really understood before. It's written in a way that I found really clear and accessible for a non-sociologist. I'd highly recommend this if you're interested in knowledge organization or meaning creation. The discussion of using multiple standpoints to generate understanding of how dominance and oppression function was super exciting to me. Just so illuminating and thought-provoking.

(My twitter is usually locked, I'm just pos
Apr 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
This author says in the intro "I'm going to say this in the most basic language possible so it's very accessible." This was not true lol. But it was still good and thought-provoking and a great synthesis of a lot of seemingly disparate work into one big thing. Pretty cool.
May 22, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorite-books
This book was my guiding light while working on my thesis, "Deconstructing Auth Jemima." Patricia Hill Collins is underread and underrated. I want to sit at her feet. It remains an important reference book.
Alex Knipp
Jun 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I read a few chapters of this book last semester for a class on quantitative and qualitative research methods, but just finishing reading it among calls to commit to anti-racist research practices. If you are working in academia at all, I think this is an essential work. If you are doing research with human subjects, I think this is an essential work. And if you are in the practice of knowledge production or translation, I think this is an essential work. As a white researcher and student, it is ...more
Benjamin Fasching-Gray
I especially like when Collins uses non-academic statements from black women talking about their own direct experiences to illustrate her points. I found myself quoting some of that in my day to day conversations with people.

There were a couple of moments where I was like, "Is it weird to be a white dude reading this?" But I think, even though there are sadly very few black women in my environment right now, that it is all somehow extremely relevant. Collins makes the point a few times that Blac
Aliya Jabbar
Apr 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book is the comprehensive, engaging handbook on black feminism that I'd always hoped to find. PHC harbors a deep disdain for the predominance of the kind of scholarship that is impersonal and abstract, and in Black Feminist Thought, she broadly explores and theorizes while peppering her essays with personal anecdotes and extracts from the literary, artistic and academic works of other black women.

The result is a well-organized, deeply insightful collection of essays with plenty of new argu
Jul 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017-to-read
Unfortunately I wasn't able to finish the book yet (due back at the library) but I can speak to what I read so far. This is an important read for feminist theorists, and feminists in general. As a white woman, this book was especially enlightening, though I want to stress that I am not the target audience, either. My main criticism is the redundancy and length; I think this work would have benefited from some word trimming and condensing, as I often struggled to remain focused and/or found mysel ...more
Gemma O'Brien
Jul 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
As a white British woman with a strong interest in feminism I knew this book centring African American women was not addressed to me specifically yet it is vital reading in order to comprehend the specifics of Black feminism and how global feminism has assumed a largely dominantly white Western bias on matters of female empowerment, enabled largely through systems of white privilege. It is a hugely important book for anyone to read in order to understand systemic oppression, the matrix of domina ...more
Dwight Davis
Jun 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is an incredibly helpful book. Collins makes a few constructive arguments, but for the most part offers an overview of the major themes in black feminist thought, offering a repository and guidebook to those new to the discipline.
Absolutely brilliant. Longer review to come.
Apr 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
to buy in physical form and re-read
Jun 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Hard indeed to imagine a more comprehensive or more lucidly written book on the topic of Black feminism. I’m in absolute awe of Patricia Hill Collins’ abilities as a scholar, a researcher, a theorist, and a writer.
Sep 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Professor Patricia Hill Collins is a feminist academic and the author of books and articles that opens up the experiences of Black women the juncture of race, gender, sexuality, class and nationality. She was inspired by her own encounters of being an intellectual Black women and feeing "one of the few," or the only female, working class and African American person in her public and private environments. Collins reflects on this in her writing in which she reports feeling isolated and silenced b ...more
Henry Cooksley
May 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favourites
If the kinds of things you are interested in include e.g. sociology, social epistemology, intersectionality, compassionate politics... I would strongly suggest that you read this. I was looking forward to reading this for a number of years, and I'm pleased to say that it more than lived up to my expectations. Collins has a great skill in taking a complex topic and treating it with the distant, subject-object style you might find in any other social science textbook. Having said that, the compass ...more
Aug 13, 2015 rated it really liked it
I read the 2nd edition and would be interested to take a look at the 1st and see how things changed. I loved a lot of the broader principles Collins brought forth, but there were many ways in which the book just felt very restrictive. In rejecting the stereotypes applied to Black women, she seems to reinscribe alternative categories of Black feminism that are just as limiting, especially the lengthy section on motherhood as an essential characteristic of Black womanhood.
Feb 24, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I had the privilege of being one of Dr. Collin's students at the University of Cincinnati. I learned so much from this woman and her gender study class. She along with some other great writers such a Bell Hooks and others helped me shape my own definition of what it means to be a black woman in America.
Jul 25, 2007 rated it really liked it
I really like Patricia Hill Collins and this is no exception, though I found much of what she filed under "Black feminism" really applied to feminism writ large. Still, it's an important work and very readable.
Oren Whightsel
Jun 27, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: theory
patricia hill collins is one of the most important voices in feminism. this book is a must read...especially the 10th anniv. ed. because she updates her research and further develops her arguments.
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Patricia Hill Collins (born May 1, 1948) is currently a Distinguished University Professor of Sociology at the University of Maryland, College Park. She is also the former head of the Department of African American Studies at the University of Cincinnati, and the past President of the American Sociological Association Council.

Collins' work primarily concerns issues involving feminism and gender wi

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