Although I am a Latina and have considered myself a feminist for most of my life, it wasn't until recently that I realized the kind of feminism I was taught in college lacked serious diversity. I then discovered the terms "intersectionality" and "intersectional feminism", and it was as though the part of me that could never fully connect to the traditional feminist movement suddenly found a place to fit in. I immediately did everything I could do to find books to read to learn more about intersectional feminism.
If this is your first time hearing the term, it's OK. Most people haven't heard of it until this year. And, luckily, it's a really easy concept to understand. Essentially, intersectional feminism is the understanding that a person's identity and experiences are defined by much more than gender. In addition to gender, a person's race, ability status, and class are connected, and according to USA Today, these things impact the way people experience oppression and discrimination. In other words, in order to be a feminist you must actively care about the issues of discrimination that don’t necessarily apply to you, and especially issues of injustice that affect people who are not as privileged as you are.
In Ravishly, Ijeoma Uluo wrote that, "feminism must be intersectional if we want it to truly help all women." To learn more about how race, class, ethnicity, religion and sexual orientation impacts the experiences of women, here are some books you should check out.
1. 'You Can't Touch My Hair: And Other Things I Still Have to Explain' by Phoebe Robinson
Phoebe Robinson, stand-up comic, actor, writer, and co-host of the 2 Dope Queens podcast, released her first book last year. You Can't Touch My Hair is a hilarious collection of essays about race, gender, pop culture, and so much more from the perspective of a young black woman.
2. 'Stone Butch Blues: A Novel' by Leslie Feinberg
Leslie Feinberg's Stone Butch Blues can be a little hard to track down, but once you do, you will find a beautifully written story about the many complexities of being trans in the 1950s.
3. 'The Hate U Give' by Angie Thomas
Angie Thomas's The Hate U Give is a young adult book that will be enjoyed by all ages. The novel, inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, deals with 16-year-old Starr Carter who balances between the poor neighborhood where she lives, and the fancy suburban prep school when she witnesses her childhood best friend shot by a police officer.
4. 'A Cup of Water Under My Bed: A Memoir' by Daisy Hernández
A Cup of Water Under My Bed, by Daisy Hernández, is a coming-of-age story about growing up as a bisexual Cuban-Colombian American. If you don't know what it's like to translate important paperwork as a child for your immigrant parents, or have to come out in a Latino family, Hernández's memoir will enlighten you.
5. 'Here We Are: Feminism For The Real World' edited by Kelly Jensen
Here We Are: Feminism For The Real World is an scrapbook-style anthology by 44 feminist contributors which includes essays, lists, poems, comics, and illustrations. It was written with teens in mind, but people of all ages will come back to it again and again.
6. 'This Bridge Called My Back' edited by Cherríe Moraga & Gloria Anzaldúa
This Bridge Called My Back was originally released in 1981, and was one of the first books to discuss feminism through the eyes of women of color. It is a timeless collection of personal essays, criticism, interviews, testimonials, poetry, and visual art.
7. 'Transgender History' by Susan Stryker
Susan Stryker's Transgender History covers transgender history in America from the mid-twentieth century to today. It's a must-read book for anyone interested in learning more about the history of the trans community.
8. 'We Should All Be Feminists' by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is a personal essay adapted from the writer's popular TEDx talk of the same name. The author discusses own experiences regarding gender in the U.S., in her native Nigeria, and abroad. It's a quick read, at only 49 pages, but it leaves a lasting impact. You will immediately want to buy copies to hand out to all of your friends.
9. 'Whisper Writing: Teenage Girls Talk about Ableism and Sexism in School' by Melissa M. Jones
Whisper Writing by Melissa M. Jones is another elusive title to find, but one of the few that deals with women with disabilities in a male-dominated special education setting. Three teenage girls share their unique stories and experiences.
10. 'Women Hollering Creek: And Other Stories' Sandra Cisneros
Sandra Cisneros's Women Hollering Creek is a collection of short stories that explores what it means to be a bicultural woman in America who doesn't fit into traditional gender roles.
11. 'The Sun Is Also A Star' by Nicola Yoon
The Sun Is Also A Star'by Nicola Yoon has been billed as a young adult love story, but it is so much more. Natasha is a typical teenager who also happens to be an undocumented immigrant 12 hours away from being deported to Jamaica with her family. On her way to United States Citizenship and Immigration Services building, hoping to find any way to stay in the U.S., she meets Daniel who offers to lend her a hand. Natasha is a smart young woman dealing with issues of immigration and the tragedy of being ripped away from her home and her dreams of the future.