I really think this should be required reading for middle class white feminists struggling to comprehend intersectionality. Although, judging from that first goodreads review, maybe some are just beyond reach. A fantastic book that examines the history of the feminist movement with a keen attention to the intersections of gender, race, and class. The term intersectionality has become such a buzzword nowadays, often used to describe having various social identities; Kimberle Crenshaw created the term in reference to how multiple systems of oppression affect those with more than one marginalized identity. Angela Davis honors this original conception of intersectionality by examining how the feminist movement has largely failed black women, lower class women, lower class black women, and women in general who fall outside of the upper to middle class white women bubble. Davis discusses a range of historical and feminist topics such as how the antirape movement excluded black women, how capitalism’s devaluing of housework has disadvantaged poor women, and reproductive rights and the cruel, forced sterilization of black women. Though first published in 1983, this book’s themes unfortunately still apply to today, where the feminist movement still often devalues those who are not white, cisgender, upper to middle class, educated, straight, ablebodied, and more. Davis also pays homage to activists who have fought the racism and classism within the feminist movement such as Ida B. Wells and W.E.B. Du Bois. This classic book will continue to make me work harder to ensure my feminist actions address intersectionality and that I hold myself accountable for my errors. Highly recommended to everyone interested in feminism, especially those of us who hold more privilege than others (so basically, everyone). 4.5**** rounded up.
If Black people had simply accepted a status of economic and political inferiority, the mob murders would probably have subsided. But because vast numbers of exslaves refused to discard their dreams of progress, more than ten thousand lynchings occurred during the three decades following the war.
Concise, informative and at times shocking, Angela Davis has analysed and documented how racism, sexism and classism has effected American social history. Before “intersectionality” was termed, Angela Davis used these three factors in determining why social life is the way that it is. She particularly focuses on how white middleclass social movements (particularly feminism) has forgone the inclusion of the working class and black people among their goals, for the sake of political allies, and how the systems of capitalism and oppression of these people have remained in tact.
I didn’t know much about American suffrage (being from the UK) but found out a lot more from this book. People who are held as “feminists” were excluding a vast majority of people for the sake of the voteI was especially shocked to read of Susan B Anthony and Susan Brownmiller (both of who I have heard of within the feminist movement) and their vicious comments and actions toward those of a different race and class, in order to gain favour and try to get the vote. I, however, enjoyed learning and reading about Sijourner Truth, Ida B. Wells and Frederick Douglass and their move to improve the rights of females and black people.
To write what this book covers in this review will not do it justice. Angela Davis covers American history from slavery up until the late 1900’s and the impact of racism, sexism and class. She documents this in a concise way so you never get lost in her writing and it is accompanied by case studies and quotes. This book covered such topics as the POC strong urge for education and the white and black women who secretly helped them (if found the results would be lynching, whipping, etc); the myth of the black rapist (especially how this was upheld to promote and justify lynchings); and forced sterilisation and eugenics (since 1933 over 7500 sterilisations had been carried out, over 5000 had been blackNial Ruth Cox lawsuit against the state of North Carolina).
This book also delves into the important black social movements and movements for working women and the achievements they have made. I particularly enjoyed reading the section “Communist Women” and reading about the amazing women who recognised that race and sex were both forms of oppression in a capitalist society. While trying to uplift those who are oppressed in this society and speak out, these women were often locked up for long periods of time due to their communist speeches.
I enjoyed reading this book and the educational value it held. I’m sure when rereading it in future I’ll retain more knowledge and discover new things.
As a rule, white abolitionists either defended the industrial capitalists or expressed no conscious class loyalty at all. This unquestioning acceptance of the capitalist economic system was evident in the program of the women’s rights movement as well. If most abolitionists viewed slavery as a nasty blemish which needed to be eliminated, most women’s righters viewed male supremacy in a similar manner—as an immoral flaw in their otherwise acceptable society. The leaders of the women’s rights movement did not suspect that the enslavement of Black people in the South, the economic exploitation of Northern workers and the social oppression of women might be systematically related. I have been lied to about the Suffrage movement, Susan B Anthony and Elizabeth Stanton.
I think it’s pretty unsettling that words written in the late 70’s/ early 80’s ring true today and I’m left to wonder if we as a society learned anything in the almost forty years when the book was written.
This book is a lesson in the history in the fight to stop sexual violence and supporting reproductive rights and gender equality for women of color and the racism perpetrated at the hands of middle class white women. If you call yourself a feminist and a fighter for women’s rights, shouldn’t that include all women regardless of race and class?
It reminds me of the feminist movement today. White feminists call for attention to issues concerning woman todayrape, harassment, misogyny (#metoo #blacklivesmatter #timesup) but when their voices are truly needed, they are conspicuously absent.
White women really need to read this book to truly understand intersectionality and their privilege. An important work marking the intersections of class, race and gender...and all the history behind people you've vaguely looked up to because no one ever talks about the way they really felt about Black people. So you can respect some of what they've done, but Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony and Margaret Sanger are forever debarred from my cannon of heroes.
In criticising the 14th and 15th amendments, Stanton and Anthony descended into a horrifying racism, and I believe Davis is right when she writes
Granted they felt they had as powerful a case for suffrage as Black men. Yet in articulating their opposition with arguments invoking the privileges of white supremacy, they revealed how defenceless they remainedeven after years of involvement in progressive causesto the pernicious ideological influence of racism.
Anthony confessed to having capitulated to racism ”on the ground of expediency”, and remained chair of the National American Woman Suffrage Association through 1900. Despite knowing people like Frederick Douglass (whose incredible grasp of movement and the importance of fighting on fronts of race, class and gender simultaneously is so incredibly inspiring)and Ida B. Wells.
In the eyes of the suffragists, “woman was the ultimate testif the cause of woman could be furthered, it was not wrong for women to function as scabs when male workers in their trade were on strike 
With Davis I would agree this was a deeply damaging viewpoint, but one that must be critiqued and should never be forgottenlike Sangar's flirtation with eugenics.
What I love is how this book rescues the real heroes, the people who should also never be forgotten. The working class women that joined the priveliged group at Seneca Falls like Charlotte Woodward, who said:
We women work secretly in the seclusion of our bed chambers because all society was built on the theory that men, not women, earned money and that men alone supported the family ... I do not believe that there was any community in which the souls of some women were not beating their wings in rebellion. For my own obscure self, I can say that every fibre of my being rebelled, although silently, all the hours that I sat and sewed gloves for a miserable pittance which, as it was earned, could never be mine. I wanted to work, but I wanted to choose my task and I wanted to collect my wages. That was my form of rebellion against the life into which I was born.
I had never known the extent of Ida B. Wells’ work. Her first pamphlet against lynching was published in 1895. Called A Red Record, she calculated over 10,000 lynchings had taken place between 1865 and 1895, she writes:
Not all nor nearly all of the murders done by white men during the past thirty years have come to light, but the statistics as gathered and preserved by white men, and which have not been questioned, show that during these years more than ten thousand Negroes have been killed in cold blood, without the formality of judicial trial and legal execution. And yet, as evidence of the absolute impunity with which the white man dares to kill a Negro, the same record shows that during all these years, and for all these murders, only three white men have been tried, convicted and executed. As no white man has been lynched for the murder of coloured people, these three executions are the only instances of the death penalty being visited upon white men for murdering Negroes. 
The way she was treated in the mainstream press is almost unthinkable today, the New York Times editorializing in 1904:
Immediately following the day of Miss Wells’ return to the United States, a Negro man assaulted a white woman in New York City ‘for the purposes of lust and plunder.’ ... The circumstances of his fiendish crime may serve to convince the mulatress missionary that the promulgation in New York just now of her theory of Negro outrages is, to sya the least, inopportune.’ 
Davis deals with some of the ways that this connects to gender construction through the characterization of black men as rapists, and to class as 'white workers who assented to lynching necessarily assumed a posture of racial solidarity with the white men who were really their oppressors. This was a critical moment in the popularization of racist ideology' . These are issues that definitely neededand have receivedmuch more attention since this was published, but as a summation of all that we knew, a rescuing and restating of feminist and antiracist and marxist histories, and a call to future scholarship, this book is brilliant.
I give this book 4.5 stars which rounds up to 5.
I read this book for my Women in Politics class.
This book's central focus is intersectional feminism. It highlights how gender, race, and class factor into inequality. This book started off incredibly strong, but lost its way a bit in the later chapters. However, still a fantastic and insightful book. A book like absolutely no other, Absolutely no other. Never there was and never there will ever be anyone like Angela Y. Davis. My personal hero, and everything I ever want to be. 4.5 stars
There's so much that this book explores, and it provides so much context for current events, like the current state of feminism in the U.S., and some Audre Lorde's essays in Sister Outsider, as well as essays in This Bridge Called My Back. Although this book ended abruptly, it doesn't detract from the obvious comprehensive work and research conducted by Angela Davis. I liked the structure of the book. Sometimes it made for a confusing read as it wasn't necessarily a chronology detailing of events, but more topical.
More thoughts to come, but this was a dense and necessary read for me & one I highly recommend. I'm eager to read Patricia Collins' Black Feminist Thought and Brittney Cooper's Beyond Respectability in the near future for other perspectives on Black feminists & intellects.
P.S: Shout out to @diverseclassics (on Instagram) for selecting this book.
P.S.S: Another reviewer (Reggie) brought up Davis' omission of Anna Julia Cooper, which seems like a huge oversight & I can't help but wonder about this.