4.5 stars. Loved this book! True to its title, Brittney Cooper writes with very eloquent rage. I cannot wait to read more from her because she is a true force and her already strong writing is only going to get stronger.
Very intersectional, Cooper is a good place to start for anyone wanting to learn more about intersections of privilege and why black women are (or have the right to be) so angry. Her style is very approachable because she is smart as hell and a joy to spend time with. She’s not sugar coating anything and her frank discussion of anger is refreshing.
“Real radicalism implores us to tell the whole ugly truth, even when it is inconvenient. To own the hurt and the pain. To own our shit, too. To think about it systemically and collectively, but never to diminish the import of the trauma.”
Cooper relentlessly examines her own life and the facts of living in America today as a black woman. It’s guaranteed that something she says in the book will make you a little uncomfortable, no matter who you are. It’s important to sit with that and examine it and try to see things from different perspectives. Cooper lets us see her grapple with difficult topics as well.
“I’m a Black woman who wants to live in a nation that believes it has a responsibility to Black women, as citizens and as people, to make the world safe for them. I’m a Black feminist who cannot reconcile my desire for men to fight for my honor with my general abhorrence for violence. I’m a feminist who cannot reconcile my desire for U.S. military intervention in Chibok with my utter hatred of guns. I’m a feminist who cannot reconcile my desire for my nation-state to intervene on my behalf with the woke analysis feminism has bequeathed me about the perils of getting in bed at any level with the logics of patriarchy and militarism.”
While she spends a lot of time talking about class, gender, and race, this collection was a little weaker in terms of sexuality. There are nods here and there to queerness; at several points Cooper says that to be feminist is to be a little queer / in love with women (it’s been a while, I can’t remember exactly how she phrased it). And yet, her story is pretty heteronormative and I wish she would have spent more time examining why she couldn’t seriously see herself dating anyone but a man despite indicating that she was indeed at least a little bit queer. It’s not really a weakness of the book not to include something like that, I just think it would have made a strong book even stronger since the intersection of sexuality and race is so very interesting and complicated.
Regardless, this is a strong book and one to pick up to educate yourself, whether you’re new to discussions of race and sexism or if you’re an expert in all things black feminism. This could also be a great one for a local book club discussion or a companion read to Rage Becomes Her, another great book about intersectional anger that came out last year.