BOOK SELECTIONBeyond White Feminism: Books Exploring Diverse Perspectives from Women of Color

Beyond White Feminism: 
Books Exploring Diverse Perspectives from Women of Color

By Elinice Adeyemi

Growing up a deviant girl in a Nigerian household, I was frequently told that feminism, like homosexuality and camping, was for white people. As I grew older and delved into the history of the feminist movement, I understood an interpretation of this to mean that feminism often prioritised white women. As a woman of color, this makes me feel sidelined and overlooked as if our perspectives and efforts do not matter. Through community building and activism in Maastricht, I strive to create spaces where alternative histories and stories can be shared. So as March is Women’s month, to me, celebrating women and AFAB individuals means honoring and amplifying the narratives of women of color, whose voices have often been marginalized but hold valuable insights to gender equality. Here are my favorite books at Limestone Books that explore these topics.
To Live As An Asian Women...

Author: Seulbin Roh
Publisher: Set Margins’

“From a European's perspective, all Asian women look so innocent.”

Signed by the author herself during the book’s launch at Limestones, this book is a collection of racist and sexist comments Roh has heard or witnessed as an East Asian woman in Europe. Addressing the unique position and intersectional experiences of Asian women in western society, these comments are microaggressions that exotify, infantilize and objectify Asian women. The book asks readers to consider the complexities of identity and belonging faced by Asian women as a result of the discrimination they experience. The experiences illuminated in the book highlight the use of language as a tool of discrimination as well as the importance of recognizing and challenging societal stereotypes imposed on women of color. This book allowed me to consider the various ways women of color are put into certain boxes depending on their ethnicity.

See Red Women’s Workshop: Feminist posters 1974-1990
Author: See Red Women's Workshop
Publisher: Four Corners

“We are a recently formed group of women interested In visual aspects of the Women's Struggle. We want to combat Images of the ‘model women’ which are used by capitalist ideology to keep women from disputing their secondary status or questioning their role in a male dominated society.”

This visually striking collection of feminist posters, prints and artwork from the See Red Women’s Workshop offers a glimpse into the history of intersectional activism of the feminist movement in England during 1974-1990. With creative work addressing various forms of oppression that affect women of color and women in the global south, this compilation showcases the collective efforts of the women’s workshop to challenge various patriarchal structures and advocate for social change. The various posters, calendars, prints, comics, infographics presented in the book criticized governments, monarchies, and other systems and structures that harmed all women, not just white women from the west.  The bold and beautiful forms of community organizing and activism that I was able to envision through the artworks filled me with a surge of inspiration that pushed away my cynicism about the state of the world. 

Cinema and Desire Feminist Marxism and Cultural Politics in the Work of Dai Jinhua Editor: Tani E. Barlow and Jing Wang
Publisher: Verso

“When contemporary Chinese women obtained the right to enjoy a certain degree of social and discursive power, their gender identity and gendered speaking position were lost as a consequence.”

Exploring the intersection of feminism, Marxism, and cultural politics, "Cinema and Desire" offers a critical analysis of Chinese cinema through a feminist lens. The book offers an examination of gender identity and cultural politics in contemporary Chinese society. Through an exploration of feminist film criticism, Dai Jinhua sheds light on the evolving narratives of women in Chinese cinema. As someone interested in the intersection of feminism and film, this book was a fascinating read. I found it interesting, the way the exploration of female archetypes in Chinese film is framed as an investigation of the transformation of women’s narrative since the creation of the Chinese Republic.

Miss Major Speaks: Conversations with a Black Trans Revolutionary by Toshio Meronek and Miss MajorAuthor: Miss Major Griffin-Gracy and Toshio Meronek
Publisher: Verso

“If self-hatred was hammered into you when you were young, Major wants you to know that you’re important- that being an outsider helps you develop skin that's both tough and pliable in social situations. You are a stronger person for the shit you’ve gone through.”

Part trans history, part organizing manifesto, this book takes the form of an engaging conversation between Trans Elder and icon Miss Major and her close friend Toshio Meronek. The book details Miss Major’s extensive experience battling systems of oppression, what Miss Majors calls The Powers That Be, Majors view that all our struggles are interconnected and that we are, at the end of the day, fighting for the same cause. I found Miss Major's reflections of the world profound and inquisitive, only something one could get from living a full life. Although this book details the oppression of trans people of color, ultimately it is a book of hope as Miss Majors urges you not to fall into the pessimism of this messy messy world. Instead, she communicates a sweet message of care and solidarity.

A Kick in the Belly: Women, Slavery & Resistance by Stella DadzieAuthor: Stella Dadzie
Publisher: Verso

“Womens sexual disadvantage could be the key to understanding their defiance.”

Dive into the untold stories of women's resistance during the transatlantic slave trade in "A Kick in the Belly." Through meticulous research, Stella Dadzie sheds light on the overlooked contributions of black enslaved women to the resistance against slavery, challenging the narrative of passive victimhood. Through rich historical evidence and compelling anecdotes, this book showcases the diverse and nuanced experiences of women in slavery with seven parts covering different aspects of slavery. I have to admit, at times, it was difficult reading about the cruel treatment enslaved women were subjected to but I was also awestruck by the agency and resilience that these women showed in the face of oppression as their stories gave me a new definition of courage and defiance. I loved that Dadzie  shed light on stories that are omitted from mainstream education.