I am a feminist, but I am fully aware of very privileged life I have. There is so much I don't know about the sexism and misogyny experienced by women and non-binary people who are also from marginalised groups. To be a feminist is to fight for and speak up for all women and non-binary people who experience sexism and misogyny, so I need to be an intersectional feminist, but I can't do that if I don't understand the specific experiences that come with being marginalised.
I have read a number of feminist non-fiction books in order to educate myself, but they're all written by privileged women, and will have just a chapter on intersectional feminism, and how sexism can intersect with religion, race, sexuality, gender identity, disability and other marginalisations. Those chapters aren't enough, and I need to educate myself further.
So today I thought I would share with you some of the books that are on my TBR or on my wishlist that discuss the discrimination and oppression people from marginalised groups experience, and ask you for recommendations.
Why I'm No Longer Talking to White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge (Published 8th March 2018)
In 2014, award-winning journalist Reni Eddo-Lodge wrote about her frustration with the way that discussions of race and racism in Britain were being led by those who weren't affected by it. She posted a piece on her blog, entitled: 'Why I'm No Longer Talking to White People About Race' that led to this book.
Exploring issues from eradicated black history to the political purpose of white dominance, whitewashed feminism to the inextricable link between class and race, Reni Eddo-Lodge offers a timely and essential new framework for how to see, acknowledge and counter racism. It is a searing, illuminating, absolutely necessary exploration of what it is to be a person of colour in Britain today. From Goodreads.
Brit(ish): On Race, Identity and Belonging by Afua Hirsch (Published 1st February 2018)
Where are you really from?
You’re British. Your parents are British. You were raised in Britain. Your partner, your children and most of your friends are British.
So why do people keep asking you where you are from?
Brit(ish) is about a search for identity. It is about the everyday racism that plagues British society. It is about our awkward, troubled relationship with our history. It is about why liberal attempts to be ‘colour-blind’ have caused more problems than they have solved. It is about why we continue to avoid talking about race.
In this personal and provocative investigation, Afua Hirsch explores a very British crisis of identity. We are a nation in denial about our past and our present. We believe we are the nation of abolition, but forget we are the nation of slavery. We are convinced that fairness is one of our values, but that immigration is one of our problems. Brit(ish) is the story of how and why this came to be, and an urgent call for change. From Goodreads.
Hidden Figures: The Untold Story of the African American Women Who Helped Win the Space Race by Margot Lee Shetterly (Published 9th February 2017)
Set amid the civil rights movement, the never-before-told true story of NASA’s African-American female mathematicians who played a crucial role in America’s space program.
Before Neil Armstrong walked on the moon, a group of professionals worked as ‘Human Computers’, calculating the flight paths that would enable these historic achievements. Among these were a coterie of bright, talented African-American women. Segregated from their white counterparts, these ‘colored computers’ used pencil and paper to write the equations that would launch rockets, and astronauts, into space.
Moving from World War II through NASA’s golden age, touching on the civil rights era, the Space Race, the Cold War, and the women’s rights movement, Hidden Figures interweaves a rich history of mankind’s greatest adventure with the intimate stories of five courageous women whose work forever changed the world. From Goodreads.
Cut: One Woman's Fight Against FGM in Britain Today by Hibo Wardere (Published 7th April 2016)
Imagine for a moment that you are 6-years-old and you are woken in the early hours, bathed and then dressed in rags before being led down to an ominous looking tent at the end of your garden. And there, you are subjected to the cruelest cut, ordered by your own mother.
Forced down on a bed, her legs held apart, Hibo Wardere was made to undergo female genital cutting, a process so brutal, she nearly died.
As a teenager she moved to London in the shadow of the Somalian Civil War where she quickly learnt the procedure she had undergone in her home country was not 'normal' in the west. She embarked on a journey to understand FGM and its roots, whilst raising her own family and dealing with the devastating consequences of the cutting in her own life. Today Hibo finds herself working in London as an FGM campaigner, helping young girls whose families plan to take them abroad for the procedure. She has vowed to devote herself to the campaign against FGM.
Eloquent and searingly honest, this is Hibo's memoir which promises not only to tell her remarkable story but also to shed light on a medieval practice that's being carried out in the 21st century, right on our doorstep. FGM in the UK has gone undocumented for too long and now that's going to change. Devastating, empowering and informative, this book brings to life a clash of cultures at the heart of contemporary society and shows how female genital mutilation is a very British problem. From Goodreads.
It's Not About the Burqa, edited by Mariam Khan (Published 21st February 2019)
When was the last time you heard a Muslim woman speak for herself without a filter?
It’s Not About the Burqa started life when Mariam Khan read about the conversation in which David Cameron linked the radicalization of Muslim men to the ‘traditional submissiveness’ of Muslim women. Mariam felt pretty sure she didn’t know a single Muslim woman who would describe herself that way. Why was she hearing about Muslim women from people who were demonstrably neither Muslim nor female?
Taking one of the most politicized and misused words associated with Muslim women and Islamophobia, It’s Not About the Burqa has something to say: seventeen Muslim women speaking up for themselves. Here are essays about the hijab and wavering faith, about love and divorce, about queer identity, about sex, about the twin threats of a disapproving community and a racist country, and about how Islam and feminism go hand in hand. Funny, warm, sometimes sad, and often angry, each of these essays is a passionate declaration, and each essay is calling time on the oppression, the lazy stereotyping, the misogyny and the Islamophobia.
It’s Not About the Burqa doesn’t claim to speak for a faith or a group of people, because it’s time the world realized that Muslim women are not a monolith. It’s time the world listened to them. From Amazon.
Trans Britain, ed. by Christine Burns (25th January 2018)
Over the last five years, transgender people have seemed to burst into the public eye: Time declared 2014 a ‘trans tipping point’, while American Vogue named 2015 ‘the year of trans visibility’. From our television screens to the ballot box, transgender people have suddenly become part of the zeitgeist.
This apparently overnight emergence, though, is just the latest stage in a long and varied history. The renown of Paris Lees and Hari Nef has its roots in the efforts of those who struggled for equality before them, but were met with indifference – and often outright hostility – from mainstream society.
Trans Britain chronicles this journey in the words of those who were there to witness a marginalised community grow into the visible phenomenon we recognise today: activists, film-makers, broadcasters, parents, an actress, a rock musician and a priest, among many others.
Here is everything you always wanted to know about the background of the trans community, but never knew how to ask. From Goodreads.
So that's my list. But how about you? Have you read any of these books? What did you think? Do you have any recommendations for me? Because this list is far too short. It needs to be much longer; I desperately need to read more books to be a intersectional feminist and understand the experiences of my fellow women and non-binary people. So I need your recommendations. Do you know of any other books on religion, race, sexuality, gender identity, disability and other marginalisations that I should be reading? Please give me them all.
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