Angela Y. Davis’ work is historically honest and somehow succinct but incredibly expansive at the same time. Unwrapping the complicated nuances of race and gender narratives and their gross entanglement with societal class structure both historically and in more modern ways, Davis evaluates several dark corners of our country’s past ranging from slavery, education, rape, and reproductive rights. She details how women’s empowerment movement has been dissected internally by complicating issues of race and class. Her book is, in many ways, a love song to the fight for equality but sharply draws into focus the consistent impedance to success.
Historians not only inform our pasts but, when doing their job correctly, should guide our future. By informing our past failings, perhaps we can alter how we choose to proceed going forward. My innate response to historical themes of race and gender had generally been “yep, I know its bad.” That’s not because I don’t care but because I don’t know how to help or admittedly really understand the scope. Davis’ work has given me a slightly less narrowed vantage point with more details and context. Knowing how many individual facets come together collectively to shape into this behemoth elephant in the room is the first step in acknowledging the elephant. Guiding the elephant out of the room requires a collective fight.
That push for the collective fight is the ultimate goal of Davis’ work. I think Women, Race, and Class would easily hold its place in any list of essential feminist reads and is as relevant today as its date of publication in 1983.