Writing Out Loud: Black Feminist Thought

Collins’ powerful work challenges us to rethink what we think we know not just about race and gender, but also about knowledge itself. As you read this selection from Black Feminist Thought, reflect on how Collins is using the lived experience of Black women to challenge the dominant epistemologies of many classical theorists you’ve read, and then answer the following questions.

Theme: Shifting the Paradigm


  1. What does Collins mean when she describes Black feminist thought as “subjugated knowledge”?
  2. Collins argues that particular criteria of positivism – an epistemological approach that upholds the scientific method – are especially problematic for Black feminist thought. Identify these criteria and describe in your own words how it leads to the oppression of alterative knowledge.
  3. Collins is perhaps best known for the concept of “intersectionality” in which multiple systems of oppression, or what Collins calls the matrix of domination, overlap to create systematic inequality that each of us faces in our own unique way. Consider your gender, racial, ethnic, religious, age, and other identities. Draw upon your own lived experience to describe a concrete situation in which you found yourself  at the center of a matrix of domination, either as a victim or as an oppressor.
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