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Women, Race, and Class

4.45  ·  Rating details ·  10,578 ratings  ·  502 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.
Paperback, 288 pages
Published February 12th 1983 by Vintage (first published 1981)
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 ·  10,578 ratings  ·  502 reviews

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Always Pouting
Mar 09, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really am glad I finally got around to reading this. The book examines the history of the feminist movement in the United States with an eye towards the ways in which the movement fell short on meeting the needs of women who had other marginalized identities. I personally knew some of this history but not all and as Davis mentions it's crucial to grapple with the historic actions of movements when trying to address why certain people choose not to engage in those movements. I also think most p ...more
Sep 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, 2019
Incisive and concise, Women, Race, and Class charts the history of racial and gender oppression in America. In lucid prose Angela Davis breaks down how misogyny, racism, and classism have shaped the character of the nation’s social life from the Antebellum Era to the Sixties. She pays special attention to how white-dominated middle-class social movements often have forgone solidarity with working people and Black people, ostensibly for the sake of political expediency, and highlights how the nar ...more
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.
A fantastic book that examines the history of the feminist movement with a keen attention to the intersections of gender, race, and class. The term intersectionality has become such a buzzword nowadays, often used to describe having various social identities; Kimberle Crenshaw created the term in reference to how multiple systems of oppression affect those with more than one marginalized identity. Angela Davis honors this original conception of intersectionality by examining how the feminist mov ...more
Feb 10, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: race, gender, democracy
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
I have been lied to about the Suffrage movement, Susan B Anthony and Elizabeth Stanton.

I think it’s pretty unsettling that words written in the late 70’s/ early 80’s ring true today and I’m left to wonder if we as a society learned anything in the almost forty years when the book was written.

This book is a lesson in the history in the fight to stop sexual violence and supporting reproductive rights and gender equality for women of color and the racism perpetrated at the hands of middle class w
Apr 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I give this book 4.5 stars which rounds up to 5.

I read this book for my Women in Politics class.

This book's central focus is intersectional feminism. It highlights how gender, race, and class factor into inequality. This book started off incredibly strong, but lost its way a bit in the later chapters. However, still a fantastic and insightful book.
Feb 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
4.5 stars

There's so much that this book explores, and it provides so much context for current events, like the current state of feminism in the U.S., and some Audre Lorde's essays in Sister Outsider, as well as essays in This Bridge Called My Back. Although this book ended abruptly, it doesn't detract from the obvious comprehensive work and research conducted by Angela Davis. I liked the structure of the book. Sometimes it made for a confusing read as it wasn't necessarily a chronology detailing
Abeer Abdullah
A book like absolutely no other, Absolutely no other. Never there was and never there will ever be anyone like Angela Y. Davis. My personal hero, and everything I ever want to be.
Jul 28, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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.
Zachary F.
I think these days most people who call themselves feminists understand, at least in a vague sense, what "intersectionality" is and accept that it's important. In case you don't, here's Merriam-Webster's definition:

intersectionality (n.): the complex, cumulative way in which the effects of multiple forms of discrimination (such as racism, sexism, and classism) combine, overlap, or intersect especially in the experiences of marginalized individuals or groups

Of course paying lip service to t
Neal Adolph
I may at some point take the time to write something better than this, but I also might not. If I do, it will do more justice to this book than what I am currently offering. If I do not, then this short little paragraph will have to do.

Women, Race, and Class is a classic work. It is old, but it is not dated. It is essential reading in a way that the works of Ta-Nehisi Coates' are not (though that is not to detract from how essential his works are as well). Angela Davis is a visionary, an attenti
Jul 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
Angela Davis is a name that I often heard when we are talking about the inequality of America but I do not know much about her. However, I did knew that Angela Rye, a Political commentator was named after her dad who was an advocate of emancipation for Blacks. Now unto reviewing the book which I found very insightful and educational.

"Have not "black male citizens." been heard to say they doubted the wisdom of extending the right of the suffrage to women? Why should the African prove more just an
Aug 10, 2014 rated it really liked it
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 simply t ...more
Aug 21, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I remember borrowing this book from the public library on Fordham Road when I was 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.
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
Why people should read Angela Davis...

What intersectionality is: recognizing the ways in which power is expressed through various dimensions, realizing how even avowed feminists can be racist, how antiracists can be homophobes, how gay rights activists can be classist, and so on and so forth, and how any attempt to split us into tribes ultimately serves power structures, when really we should all be fighting what they called The Man back in Angela Davis' heyday.

What intersectionality isn't: Buzz
Jan 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2018, non-fiction
A must read, especially for white feminists. It's incredibly comprehensive and her writing is engaging and accessible. It's also frustratingly timely, as so many of the issues brought up within the book are still issues our social justice movements face today.
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 than any other women in the campaign against slavery, [...] they argued that women could never achieve their freedom independently of Black people." However "a major weakness in the abolitionist campaign - its failure to promote a broad anti-racist consciousness - [...] was unfortunately carried over into the organized movement for women's rights." "That her race and her economic condition were different from theirs did not annul her womanhood. And as a Black woman, her claim to equal righ ...more
Apr 30, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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
Jul 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: theory-gender
Of particular interest in this modern American classic is the political divide-and-conquer tactics of the US Democrat and Republican parties. As the 2 parties to the same elites, they benefited from division between the abolition movement and the women's suffrage movement, illustrating the "Intersectionality" of Women, Race, and Class.
Ch.10 and Ch.13 also stand out; for the latter chapter's topic, Silvia Federici's writings on unpaid labor and Wages for Housework was what shook me to realize th
I can't believe how readable this book is, considering how dense it also is in historical detail. The research that went into it must be astounding, but it flows in most places like a conversation with a (really well-informed) friend. Along with many subjects I am familiar with, I was absolutely fascinated by all the socialist ideas I've never heard before. I have paaaaaages of notes that I'll have to add later.
Apr 18, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Besides a few small points I'd take issue with - many of which were discussed further in depth after this book was published - it's a brilliant work.
Nov 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Troublant de lire aujourd'hui ce que Davis a écrit en 1983:
Some of the most flagrant symptoms of social deterioration are acknowledged as serious problems only when they have assumed such epidemic proportions that they appear to defy solution. Rape is a case in point. In the United States today, it is one of the fastest-growing violent crimes. After ages of silence, suffering and misplaced guilt, sexual assault is explosively emerging as one of the telling dysfunctions of present-day capitalist
Rebekka Steg
May 13, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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 ofte
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
Masterful overview of America's women's movement from pre-Civil War to the end of the 1970's, especially concerning the experiences and oppressions of Black women and girls. You likely didn't learn this stuff in school. My only gripe is that Davis assumes we understand her vision of socialism and references her view without much explication. Perhaps this was easier for her contemporary readers, but readers in 2016 could benefit from some additional context.

Angela Davis will be speaking on the U
Dec 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: feminism
Fantastic. Required Reading for all.
Jessica Maginity
Aug 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
Essential reading. Clear, incisive, and implacable, this book was (and still is) an important corrective to the way that we teach the history of women, race, and class (she's not beating around the bush with her title). Her account of racism in the suffrage movement and the double edged sword of birth control is, I think, particularly eye opening for the contemporary reader who has gone through the US public education system and has been a wee bit failed.
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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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When you work at Goodreads, it's pretty tough to keep that Want to Read shelf under control. (And let's be honest, most of us don't even t...
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“If Black people had simply accepted a status of economic and political inferiority, the mob murders would probably have subsided. But because vast numbers of ex-slaves refused to discard their dreams of progress, more than ten thousand lynchings occurred during the three decades following the war.” 13 likes
“Woman” was the test, but not every woman seemed to qualify. Black women, of course, were virtually invisible within the protracted campaign for woman suffrage. As for white working-class women, the suffrage leaders were probably impressed at first by the organizing efforts and militancy of their working-class sisters. But as it turned out, the working women themselves did not enthusiastically embrace the cause of woman suffrage.” 10 likes
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