In Women, Race & Class, Angela Y. Davis looks at US history from colonial times onwards and highlights the many moments when sexism, racism, classism, or some combination of all three prevented various progressive social movements from reaching their full potential. With solidarity, Davis argues, societal transformation is possible; without it, things only get so far. I knew some of this history but not all of it: my early exposure to feminism was definitely to the white middle-class variety (including some lesbian/queer perspectives), and what I learned in school about the woman suffrage movement/early women’s rights movement in the US didn’t focus on the way it “all but ignored the predicament of white working-class women, as it ignored the condition of Black women in the South and North alike,” as Davis puts it. While some, like Sarah and Angelina Grimke, realized “the inseparability of the fight for Black Liberation and the fight for Women’s Liberation,” others, like Elizabeth Cady Stanton, saw those goals as having points of competition and conflict, and ignored the fact that “the abolition of slavery had not abolished the economic oppression of Black people, who therefore had a special and urgent need for political power.”

The chapter on Education and Liberation was super-interesting, and I liked learning about the Black and white women Davis highlights in the “Communist Women” chapter, none of whom I had previously heard of.

I picked this book up from a Little Free Library near me and it had a sticker + bookmark in it saying it was selected thanks to donations from the Little Free Diverse Libraries project, which I hadn’t heard about before. I’m grateful to have had the prompt to read this book, and I’m going to put it back in the Little Free Library where I found it so that someone else can learn from it too.

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