What Also Matters? The Voices of Women of Color.

By Krystal Sierra

August 7, 2017

What Also Matters? The Voices of Women of Color.

The Crunk Feminist Collection

Britney C. Cooper, Susan M. Morris, and Robin M. Boylorn

The Crunk Feminist Collection is a much-needed anthology of short essays written by black women and women of color. Its narratives center on race, gender, pop culture and current events. The collection blends writers who specialize in personal anecdote with razor-sharp critique and who employ a conversational tone as complex issues are carefully dissected and taken to task. Appearing first as blog articles at The Crunk Feminist Collective from 2010-2014, the pieces capture the brevity today’s readers expect: precise techniques that this self-proclaimed riot girl found urgent and timely.

The Crunk is divided into 11 parts, from “Gender: Fuck the Patriarchy” to “Race and Racism: All Black Lives Matter” to “Pop Culture: The Rise of the Ratchet” and “Identity: Intersectionality for a New Generation, ” in which each section is thematically organized. We hear from editors Cooper, Morris, and Boylorn along with other writers, Crunkista, Eesha Pandit, Chanel Craft Tanner and Aisha Durham. All these self-appointed “critical homegirls” write to dismantle antebellum notions that were created to harm to women of color, specifically black women, while blending political theory, activism, and movement-building into the work in insightful, original, and exciting ways. 

These writers question their identities as black women, WOC, daughters, lovers, sisters and consumers of pop culture; they also critique their own privilege as educated women, clearly and honestly. I couldn’t help but come up short thinking about what the collection lacks. While the nature of print dates any kind of material (consider the judicial outcomes of Tamir Rice and Trayvon Martin), a reader can look to the blog to continue the conversation.

The Crunk Feminist Collection explores topics that are often considered too hot for discussion, topics that our communities, colleges, and many mainstream media outlets wish for us to forget. That is why The Crunk Feminist Collective started: to give voice to the experience of being black or brown in our nation and communities today. Readers are encouraged to engage with the blog, with the work, and to participate in the literary and global spaces the collective creates.

The essays range from one to four pages. They are written from a serious study of black feminist theory, which is historically neglected in the classroom. Each essay comes packaged in a narrative. One such, “SlutWalks vs. Ho Strolls,” begins with the history of the SlutWalk, an activist response to a Toronto police officer who said that “women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimized.”

The essay cuts deep as Brittney C. Cooper enunciates: “[Black women] are always already [perceived] sexually free, insatiable, ready to go, freaky, dirty, and by consequence, unrapeable. When it comes to reclamations of sexuality, in some senses, Black women are always already fucked.”

In a sense, Cooper, among other black feminists, is challenging the accepted universality of white women’s concerns and experiences that dominate feminism today. Her point is that feminism, in its current form, does not necessarily include black female solidarity, especially when white feminists rarely show up for their black sisters in the same way black sisters do.

Then there is Chanel Craft Tanner’s essay “Antoine Dodson’s Sister: On Invisibility as Violence.” The essay unpacks the ways in which caricature and the hypervisibility or “celebrity” of Antoine Dodson who attacked and ran off an intruder, trying to sexually assault his sister, Kelly, in front of her daughter in the middle of the night. Tanner argues that the story of Kelly’s attack and her brother`s subsequent fame—his on-camera reaction led to a Gregory Brothers’ musical remix of his response, more than 136 million views to date—is meant to “lock Antoine in a frame, to capture him in place, in order to tell a story that fits their [our] truths—Black women’s confrontations with sexual violence are either not real or not important.” 

A complex theme, Tanner explains the difference between invisibility-as-power and invisibility-as-oppression—when it is chosen and when it is not. She writes that for Kelly invisibility affords protection while her erasure discredits and oppresses. Tanner calls for a “remix to this remix” as “every note [of the video of “Bed Intruder Song”] we sing erases Kelly Dodson.” Even the essay’s title seems to point to the ease with which black women are made nonexistent, their stories obscured beyond recognition.

When it comes to politics and respectability, Brittney C. Cooper locks it down again with “Disrespectability Politics: On Jay Z’s Bitch, Beyoncé’s ‘Fly’ Ass, and Black Girl Blue.” The writer remarks that at the intersection of respectability and “First Family of Hip Hop,” with Blue Ivy Carter at its center (daughter of Jay Z Carter and Beyoncé Knowles), one might find a place between the polemics of “the disses we get and the respect we seek.” She argues that disrespectability and respectability are embodied in Black Girl Blue’s parents, from Jay Z’s response to a hoax that claimed he was giving up his use of the B-word (he was not) and the naming of a fly, “Beyoncé’s Fly,” after the insect’s golden ass. Cooper critiques the culture that Blue’s parents helped create, a culture that swings back and forth from “‘fly girls to bitches and hoes’ and back again to just, well, flies.” She hopes that Blue will learn from her parents` contradictions and be able to make her own way between the extremes.

In the end, she writes: “When disrespect becomes where we enter, we confront a reality that is pretty dismal for Black womanhood. But when we enter at respectability, there we confront limitations too. I mean, Michelle Obama, the country’s leading lady, can’t even get no respect.”

Do yourself a favor and pick up a copy of this excellent work.


The Crunk Feminist Collection
The Feminist Press at CUNY
$19.96 paperback | Buy Now!


About the Reviewer:

Krystal Sierra lives, works and writes in Cleveland, Ohio. She has been published by Scene Magazine, Belt, The Review Review, Blink Ink, Kulchur and is writing a book of hybrid memoir titled Lacquer. By day, she writes sex toy copy with a feminist agenda. 

comments powered by Disqus « Back to Articles

Newsletter Sign Up

shadow shadow