The heart of justice is truth-telling, seeing ourselves and the world the way it is rather than the way we want it to be.— bell hooks
I’m teaching my book Defining Sexism in the U.S. in my freshman composition course. We haven’t gotten to the book yet, but my students are curious about it, and one of them asked me what motivated me to begin this work. I told her that I started with my own frustration: I’d been told that I had been handed equality, but that wasn’t my experience. Like most women, I’d had plenty of experience with sexism, but hadn’t been given the perspective or the vocabulary or the societal power to speak that truth. Once I started exploring feminism, I realized that there was much more than my own perspective to consider: we’re all dealing with the fallout from patriarchy. For many, it’s a matter of life and death.
After dedicating myself wholeheartedly to learning feminism, I wanted to share what I had learned, to make it accessible. So my books were born. I had plans for many others, but life, as it does, took a turn. I needed rest. So I rested. As it happened, I was resting as we entered the Trump presidency. Don’t even get me started on that.
After my rest, I decided to pause my other books: I may write them slowly, as I believe that a translation of academic feminism into everyday language is deeply necessary. In the meantime, I’m going to teach and focus on other writing projects. I’ll drop in now and then with a blog post that seems needed or that I am compelled to write given the moment in history we are occupying, and the fulcrum of feminism upon which we are delicately balanced.
As I was resting, I collected some of my favorite pieces from the years I spent learning and writing feminism into a book. I collected these writings for a few reasons: to have a record to share with my children and a printed version of the words I flung onto the page so furiously for so long; to remember where I have been; and to share the journey with others.
Because my blog was originally named Yo Mama (’cause there ain’t no Yo Daddy jokes), I have titled this book What Yo Mama Said. It includes blog posts from the five years during which I wrote regularly on feminist topics, grouped by subject rather than chronologically. You’ll find essays on motherhood, beauty, race, politics, sexual violence, the divine feminine, feminism, and culture, along with interviews with other authors and activists as well as friends and colleagues who have a unique perspective on patriarchy. And, because life—and truth-telling—aren’t complete without it, you’ll find poetry.
May these writings illuminate your journey as they have mine.