Have you ever heard of white feminism? You know, the feminism that screams the loudest on social media but also excludes Women of Color hardest. There are a lot of misconceptions of what feminism means in the 21st century. The dictionary definition of feminism will claim the advocacy of women’s rights on the basis of the equality of the sexes. But feminism should be including of all women, especially Women of Color. No matter what kind of woman you are, these feminist books will help you open your mind, feel related to or give you something to get lost in on a sunny afternoon.
Read on for the top 10 feminist books by Women of Color.
1. This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color
Cherrie Moraga and Gloria Anzaldua edit this fourth edition collection of personal essays, poems, reviews and internal monologues by many Women of Color in America. This novel has connected and bonded many women for an entire generation.
“It speaks to you being a woman of color, plus it’s famous,” Drake University Associate Professor of Women and Gender Studies Beth Younger said.
With stories from Black women to Chicana women to Asian women to Indigenous women, this book radicalized many and opened eyes to a world where all women can be powerful and thrive.
2. Sister Outsider by Audre Lorde
Unflinching but sensitive, this collection of 15 poems by Black lesbian author Audre Lorde takes on a range of issues. Boldly addressing sexism, ageism, homophobia and racism, this book gives a reflective look at these topics and what they mean as a woman growing up in the 21st century. It has a poem for everyone, no matter what situation you’re in. By the end of it, you’ll feel not only enlightened but hopeful for change.
“Representation is huge,” Drake junior Avery Luepker said. “If books written by Women of Color/queer women were used more in schools, it shows young queer women and Women of Color that they can accomplish things bigger than society has made them think they can.”
This book serves as a physical reminder that you’re not only in the fight for social change.
3. Women of Color and Feminism: Seal Studies by Maythee Rojas
Author Maythee Rojas explores the overlapping experiences of being a Woman of Color and a feminist. Through personal stories and profiles written of historical Women of Color such as Hottentot Venus, Josefa Loaiza and Anna Mae Pictou-Aquash, she discusses the feminist movement in the 21st century and how it can progress forward with love and harmony.
This novel brings together both feminism and racial movements and how both can be beneficial to helping our modern-day society when working together.
4. The Color Purple by Alice Walker
An American classic, this novel details the lives of two Black sisters in 19th-century rural Georgia. Written as letters that span over 20 years, the story follows Celie and Nettie who are separated as young girls and cling to hope, bravery and resilience until they’re able to reconnect again.
“It shows how we can be empowered,” Drake University junior Dina Perez said. “It shows how society can beat you down as a Woman of Color, but it also shows us how we can overcome that. We are so much more than that.”
This novel doesn’t shy away from harsh topics but manages to paint an unforgettable story that was bold when first written and continues to be bold today.
5. Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay
Witty and funny, this collection of personal essays by Roxane Gay touches on social and political issues.
“What I love about Roxane Gay is that she’s a powerful thinker and writer,” said Younger. “She’s so inclusive and intersectional.”
The story takes us on the journey of Gay’s evolution as a feminist and Woman of Color while addressing the mainstream depiction of POCs from The Help to abortion to Chris Brown’s abuse of women. Follow along with her as she explores the feminist and racial movements and how we can do better.
6. Colonize This! by Daisy Hernandez
Gen-Z, this one’s for you. In this recently revised anthology, author Daisy Hernandez explores the many ways that feminism is reaching young women and young women of color. From social media to key social movements like Black Lives Matter, the idea of being a young feminist is changing, and it’s changing fast. Hernandez gives you a perspective of a young Woman of Color that helps guide you in your own exploration of what that means to you.
7. Playing in the Dark by Toni Morrison
Acclaimed American author Toni Morrison opens up a new dialogue on what it means to be free in America in this novel. Detailing themes of freedom, manhood and innocence in American culture, Morrison brings to light the truth that none of that would be possible without the existence and persistence of racism in this country. Open up this new chapter of race in America today.
8. Dog Flowers by Danielle Geller
Combining photos and text, Dog Flowers tells the memoir of Danielle Geller after her mom dies of alcohol withdrawal after attempting to get sober. After returning to Florida to collect her mother’s belongings, she discovers one suitcase filled with photos, dried sage and diaries that sends Geller on the journey of connecting with her mother and their home, the Navajo reservation. She finds answers about family, her culture and herself. Find this beautiful memoir on Amazon today.
9. Surviving the White Gaze by Rebecca Carroll
Through a gripping memoir, Rebecca Carroll brings us along on her life story to find her place as a Black woman in both her all-white community and in the world. From traveling through cities and battling depression, to eating disorders and difficult boyfriends, Carroll is able to not only heal but find her place in her chosen Black family and former home.
10. The Magical Language of Others by E.J. Koh
Distance makes the heart grow fonder. After Eun Ji Koh’s parents return to South Korea for work, Koh is left with her brother and a sense of loss with her mother’s absence. Told through letters found years later written by her mother, Koh shares with readers her struggle to adjust to American life and finding her Korean identity. The novel is also an incredible depiction of how love can outweigh the sadness caused by distance.