Patricia Hill-Collins- 2013
Prolific author and distinguished academic specializing in race, class and gender
Her Inner Voice
By Sara Hedglin (Business Management, Class of 2024)
When Patricia Hill-Collins was younger, she was one of the only African Americans in her schools, community, and work environment. She knew that part of the world felt that her race defined her. Knowing people were judging her, she felt small and went silent. She “tried to disappear” (Collins vi) and hide the pain. As a result, she started to write books to regain her voice and power. Patricia Hill-Collins has become a very powerful African American feminist who truly made a difference in our world. As an author she is very important to us today as she is a black feminist leader sharing her voice.
Patricia Hill-Collins reveals to the world her unique point of view on racism, oppression, and nationalism. After she went silent, she wanted to share her thoughts to the world. She states in her book Black Feminist Thought, “Over the years I have tried to replace the external definitions of my life forwarded by dominant groups with my own self-defined viewpoint.” (Collins, vi). She uses this technique to share her personal thoughts on racism as she defines words through her own viewpoint. She expresses her thoughts of nationalism and “Rather than seeing nationalism as a backward, essential ideology, I view nationalism as a powerful set of ideas that can be used for a variety of purposes. Elsewhere I suggest that the power of nationalism, like that of religion, lies in its ability to annex expressive needs to political ends.” (Collins 14). Collins believes that the power of nationalism must be considered for it’s role in furthering racist thinking and its potential for empowering African Americans through Black Nationalism.
Patricia Hill-Collins was the first African American woman to be president of the American Sociological Association. She also has a degree in sociology which gives her more knowledge on racism. In her books, she was not only able to reveal her own personal connections and what she has lived through but also what she has learned about it. According to Nicki Lisa Cole, she stated that Collins “argued that black women are uniquely positioned due to their race and gender to understand the importance of self-definition within the context of a social system that defines oneself in oppressive ways and that they are also uniquely positioned, because of their experiences within the social system, to engage in social justice work.” (Cole 2019). Patricia Hill-Collins always see women as strong and independent. She is very significant because she shows people how being different is good. During this time today, we not only struggle with racism, but we also struggle with sexism. She reveals the truth about the problems that occur in our world today, so people realize the extent of influence racism and sexism have in our lives. She writes her books to raise awareness and inspire people to try and resolve these issues.
One of the most important characteristics of Collins work is how she shares other black female activist thoughts through her own. In her book, Black Feminist Thought, she speaks about famous 19th Century activist Maria W. Stewart and how she “challenged African-American women to reject the negative images of Black womanhood.” (Collins 1). Maria Stewart was the first African American woman to speak about women’s rights and to make a public anti-slavery speech. Collins uses Stewart’s work to push forward her message about continuing the work of Black feminist leaders. Maria Stewart is important because she gave African American women a voice in the public for the first time. Not only does Collin’s use Maria Stewart as an example or voice but she also uses many others to continue their stories.
Overall, Patricia Hill-Collins is truly an important author today revealing her inner feminist thoughts and the truth about racism. Her appearance to Millersville made a positive impact on the students as it reveals racism and sexism is important subjects to know about and should not be taken lightly. She reminds us all to remember to continue making a positive change.
Cole, Nicki Lisa. “Biography of Patricia Hill Collins, American Sociologist and Feminist.” ThoughtCo, Nicki Lisa Cole, 18 June 2019, www.thoughtco.com/patricia-hill-collins- 3026479.
Collins, Patricia Hill. From Black Power to Hip Hop: Racism, Nationalism, and Feminism (Politics History & Social Chan). Annotated, Temple University Press, 2006.
Collins, Patricia Hill. Black Feminist Thought: Knowledge, Consciousness, and the Politics of Empowerment (Revised 10th Anniv 2nd Edition). Revised, 10th Anniv., 2nd, Routledge, 1999.
Diversity, Equality, Unity
By: Justin Staggers
“Intersectional paradigms remind us that oppression cannot be reduced to one fundamental type, and that oppressions work together in producing injustice” (Collins, 2000 p.18). This is arguably the most important piece in Patricia Hill Collins work, bringing out this idea of intersectionality, which encouraged people to think very differently about how they viewed oppression. Patricia Hill Collins is a leader in the African American Community, and has torn down many barriers, paving the path for women like herself. We were very lucky to have Patricia Hill Collins visit our campus back in 2013. She had a major impact on our campus and community. Patricia Hill Collins made a lasting impression through her ability to communicate this new way of mapping oppression, through intersectionality.
To start, I want to address how Patricia got to where she is today, and also how she has paved the way for people just like her, through her determination and leadership. Since childhood, Collins has faced oppression and racism. She stated in an interview with ASA (The American Sociological Association) that, “I was increasingly the ‘first,’ ‘one of the few,’ or the ‘only’ African American and/or woman, and/or working-class person in my schools, communities, and work settings. I saw nothing wrong with being who I was, but apparently many others did” (HigginBotham, 2020). She conquered all of that, earning her BA from Brandeis in 1969, and her Masters from Harvard in 1970. She taught at many prestigious universities, and even became the president of the ASA (American Sociological Association), being the first African American Woman to ever hold this position. She paved the way for many African American Women, and is a pioneer in that respect.
In 2013, Patricia Hill Collins visited Millersville University. Through this visit, she made a positive impact on not only the students of MU, but the entire community with her message. She was able to motivate the students and community to get involved, politically and socially. This message especially rings true today, with everything we have been seeing in the last couple years especially in terms of civil rights. When Patricia Hill Collins came to Millersville, she preached that youth activism is essential. She stated, “the youth are the ones fighting for a future” ( Blackson, 2013). She was stating that there is still so much work to do, and it is so important for students like my peers and I to be involved in this, because it is our future at stake.
While here on campus, Patricia Hill Collins made sure to cover some of her most important work, this being the idea of intersectionality, which is crucial for students to learn. To understand her paradigm, we have to understand intersectionality. In Patricia Hill Collins’ most well-known book, titled Black Feminist Thought she defines intersectionality as “particular forms of intersecting oppressions, for example; intersections of race and gender, or of sexuality and nation” (Collins, 2000). It is essentially the idea of how these systems can overlap one another, and create a large web of injustice. There is discrimination happening among overlapping social categorizations. On the next page of that same book, Black Feminist Thought, Patricia states that, “oppressions work together in producing injustice” (Collins, 2000). This is the same message she communicated to the students and community while here at Millersville University; that understanding this framework for intersectionality is crucial to making change.
Through researching Patricia Hill Collins, it really opened up my eyes to what is going on in the world around me and why Collins was so passionate about her work and what she believed in. With this new concept of intersectionality, she shows how people with multiple forms of oppression can really have the odds stacked against them. I hope that Patricia Hill Collins eventually comes to Millersville again, as I would love to see one of her presentations in person.
Collins, P. H. (2000). Black feminist though: Knowledge, consciousness, and the politics of empowerment. In Black feminist though: Knowledge, consciousness, and the politics of empowerment (pp. 18-19). New York: Routledge. doi:https://uniteyouthdublin.files. wordpress.com/2015/01/black-feminist-though-by-patricia-hill-collins.pdf
Collins, Patricia Hill: SOCY l sociology Department l University of Maryland. (n.d.). Retrieved February 12, 2021, from https://socy.umd.edu/facultyprofile/collins/patricia-hill
Collins, Patricia Hill. (2020, November 04). Retrieved February 12, 2021, from https://www. asanet.org/about/governance-and-leadership/council/presidents/patricia-hill-collins
The Snapper. (2013, April 03). Collins advocates youth activism (1191404331 890735943 M. Blackson, Ed.). Retrieved February 12, 2021, from http://thesnapper.millersville.edu /index.php/2013/04/03/collins-advocates-youth-activism/