The New Self-Help

If You’re Serious About Anti-Racism, Listen to Black Women

You’ll better understand the complexity of oppression, and what we can do to challenge it

Crystal Marie Fleming
Published in
5 min readJul 2, 2020

This story is part of The New Self-Help: 21 Books for a Better You in the 21st Century.

Sometimes people assume that outspoken Black women — perhaps especially outspoken Black women professors — came out of the womb wearing a “Black Girl Magic” T-shirt and quoting Angela Davis. But the truth is that like most people in this country, I was not socialized to take Black women’s knowledge seriously — which of course means that I was not socialized to take my own knowledge seriously.

Many Black women have had to struggle against the intertwined forces of patriarchy, racism, and class oppression that keep us silenced, ignored, and marginalized. So, yes, even as a Black woman, it took me several decades to begin to understand that Black women and girls have been uniquely and violently oppressed in our White male supremacist society — and that listening to Black women is key to challenging multiple forms of oppression.

The perspective of Black woman is singular

There are, of course, lots of really good reasons to listen to Black women. Your food will almost certainly taste better. You could summon otherworldly powers of resilience and begin living your best life. And if millions of U.S. citizens had listened to Black women and girls several centuries ago, we wouldn’t have had to wait until 2017 to begin collectively acknowledging the centrality of sexual harassment and assault in our society.

As far as I’m concerned, one of the best reasons to listen to Black women is because doing so will better equip you to understand the complexity of oppression and what we can do to challenge it. Listening to Black women (and girls) is vitally important, because those of us who pay attention to the condition of our lives are aware that we’re marginalized by multiple forces of discrimination: notably racism, sexism, and classism. The hard-won knowledge we gain from reflecting on our experiences of oppression holds valuable insights for anyone interested in building a more just world.



Crystal Marie Fleming
Writer for

Professor, sociologist and author of two books, including my latest: HOW TO BE LESS STUPID ABOUT RACE. Photo credit: Nicole Mondestin

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