Intersectional Reading List

By Hillary Moses Mohaupt

Kimberle Crenshaw gave us the term “intersectionality” in a 1989 article in the University of Chicago Legal Forum. In the article’s conclusion she writes, “If any real efforts are to be made to free Black people of the constraints and conditions that characterize racial subordination, then theories and strategies purporting to reflect the Black community’s needs must include an analysis of sexism and patriarchy. Similarly, feminism must include an analysis of race if it hopes to express the aspirations of non-white women.” The word “intersectionality” may have been born in a legal journal but the notion—and the need for it—has emerged in fiction and non-fiction, politics and poetry.

Curricula and reading lists have been circulating the Internet for months now, and frankly I find them all overwhelming. There are so many books and articles to read, so many films to watch, so many people to follow on Twitter. But the reason there are so many lists, with so much “required reading,” is that work needs urgently to be done. We can’t close our eyes and pretend things will get better on their own. White people cannot and should not depend on people of color to educate us; that’s our own work to do. But where do you start?

As Shannon and Jane recently recommended in their tiny letter, Do A Thing, start by reading the thing you’ve been putting off reading. For me, that’s Octavia Butler’s Kindred, which lingered somewhere near the top of my reading list—but never the very top—for most of 2016.

Or maybe start with Crenshaw’s article. If you’re still looking for a place to start, here’s a list of ten books, in no particular order, to help you get reading.

  1. Women, Race and Class, Angela Y. Davis

  2. This Bridge Called My Back, edited by Cherrie Moraga and Gloria Anzaldua

  3. Feminism is for Everybody: Passionate Politics, bell hooks

  4. Black Feminist Thought: Knowledge, Consciousness, and the Politics of Empowerment, Patricia Hill Collins

  5. Living For Change, Grace Lee Boggs

  6. Feminism without Borders, Chandra Talpade Mohanty

  7. We Should All Be Feminists, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

  8. Sister Outsider, Audre Lorde

  9. Colonize This!, edited by Daisy Hernandez

  10. Gender Trouble, Judith Butler