In 2010, the Crunk Feminist Collective formed to promote a fresh brand of feminism for the hip-hop generation. The members envisioned accessible, inclusive, and relevant feminism centering Black and brown women, girls, and femmes, rooted in real-life experience, scholarship, and camaraderie.
Now CFC co-founders Brittney Cooper and Susana Morris, along with co-author Chanel Craft Tanner, are bringing the good word to the next generation of budding feminists. (Norton Young Readers, Oct. 5) is a feminist handbook and life guide for teens that Kirkus calls “a necessary life companion for readers of all backgrounds.”
“We thought that we would be like three dope aunties having a conversation with you about how to get your politics together and what it looks like to get your life together,” Cooper tells Kirkus about the aims of Feminist AF. “We just want to be in the mix, helping to figure that out. Not preaching at folks, not trying to tell people what’s what, but really to say, here are the things that have helped us, here’s the way feminism has been useful for us as we’ve gone through our lives.”
Cooper and Tanner recently spoke about Feminist AF for an episode of Kirkus’ Fully Booked podcast. Our conversation has been edited for length and clarity.
How is Feminist AF an extension of the Crunk Feminist Collective’s work?
Brittney Cooper: We have, as a collective, had a commitment to thinking about feminism across a life span. In 2011, we were doing workshops for teen girls in our communities; and then we have the opportunity to really have a conversation with a newer generation of feminists, those young folks who are coming along and figuring out their feminist politics. That’s what we do…and that’s really what this book tries to do.
Chanel Craft Tanner: These are our stories, these were our experiences. We had to learn how to crush girlhood, and whatever we can give to the generation coming behind us—it’s our duty, it’s our responsibility, but it’s also our joy. There’s so much joy in loving on the girls that are coming up, and rooting for them, and seeing their growth, and just being able to say, “We want to really genuinely meet you where you are. But y’all got this. And y’all just need to know that there are people behind you that have you, that have your back, and that love you deeply.”
What’s one of your favorite sections or passages from Feminist AF?
BC: One of my favorites is actually one of the smallest sections, a section on talismans. What is the thing you rock every day as a way to corral your superpower? For me, that’s hoop earrings. I like thinking about those sorts of magic moments. But I also like the section on “Bossin’ Up” [being your best self; standing in your power], and we have some pretty good conversations about dating and relationships, too. And we give a little bit of advice about how to get your flirt on that I think folks will find useful.
CCT: “Bossin’ Up” was really fun to write and to read again. There’s a section in a chapter on resiliency, where we end with a love letter to Black girls—to just let them know, you know, that we see them, we see that they are trying to survive in a world in which they weren’t meant to survive. And that it’s OK to feel that pain. And that, again, we love you and we got you. Reading that section—I get a bit emotional when I look at it, because of what Brittney just said—it was a book that I needed. I needed to see that when I was a girl. So I think that’s one of my favorite sections, because of the love that was involved in writing it.
Is there anything else you’d like people to know about Feminist AF?
BC: You know, I hope that folks won’t be put off because we’re crunk and, you know, we cuss a little bit like sailors. And we know that, quite frankly, young people use their words, too. So I hope that people embrace the spirit of this, which is being unapologetic about who you are and who you’re trying to be in the world and what it means to have a voice. We want to be in the conversation with you, and this is an invitation to do that.
CCT: I’ll just say I think it would be a wonderful experience for mothers and daughters, for aunties and nieces, for you to read with your crew. And so I hope that folks think collectively as they think about purchasing the book and how they want to engage and interact with it. I think it can be a beautiful bonding experience as well.
Editor at large Megan Labrise hosts Fully Booked.