Vengeance Feminism

The Power of Black Women's Fury in Lawless Times

Coming Soon


By Kali Gross

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From an award-winning historian, an alternative model of feminism driven by the legacy of Black women who took justice into their own hands 

So often failed by the state, demeaned by racism and sexism, and denied respectable means of redress, Black women have nevertheless patiently resisted myriad injustices. Yet history shows an alternative path. It involved razors, pistols, hatchets, and blackjacks, and playacting for courts and reporters—whatever it took to beat the system. In a world where Black women are castigated and caricatured for being angry, Vengeance Feminism tells the story of those who leaned into their fury, crafting a different kind of ideology that scratched and stabbed and sometimes even succeeded.

Vengeance Feminism is about the Black women who hit back—not always figuratively, and not necessarily nobly either. Weaving together historical narrative with Black feminist analysis, Gross illuminates the stories of Black women who fought for their dignity on their own terms, from the nineteenth-century “badger thieves” who robbed men on the streets of Philadelphia to victims of intimate partner violence who defended their honor and bodily autonomy with deadly force.

Reckoning with women who lied, robbed, and cheated a racist, misogynistic world, Vengeance Feminism grapples with the volatile power of violence in pursuit of racial and gender justice.

  • “The book's focus is sharp, and the subject merits attention. Explosive and compelling.”
  • “Sometimes feminists have to take off their earrings and throw down. Kali Nicole Gross, one of our nation's most formidable historians, certainly throws down here, while offering us a riveting new history of Black women who threw their own left hooks at the patriarchy. This deeply researched and engaging book reminds us that fighting is not always a metaphor, and feminism is no stranger to fisticuffs.”
    Brittney Cooper, New York Times–bestselling author of Eloquent Rage
  • “With captivating prose that centers nail-biting struggle, Vengeance Feminism offers both a practical and theoretical new pillar of Black feminism. Kali Nicole Gross uses the nation’s birthplace of Philadelphia as an apt symbolic stage for the violent, clever, and dramatic ways that Black women protected and defended themselves when justice was unavailable. This book is a powerful and important contribution to 19th century Black women’s history.”
    Erica Armstrong Dunbar, author of Never Caught
  • “Kali Gross poignantly rescues Black women’s fury as a powerful response to the personal and political violence they have been subjected to historically, while also, in ways long overdue, redefining their rage as resistance. This extraordinary reckoning with the true complexity of violence, rage, and resistance in a country that celebrates these acts for some, while condemning and criminalizing them for others, is at times harrowing, often painful, and yet always a most stunning testament to Black women’s resilience no matter the regularity of repression.”
    Heather Ann Thompson, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Blood in the Water

On Sale
Sep 24, 2024
Page Count
256 pages
Seal Press

Kali Gross

About the Author

Kali Nicole Gross is the National Endowment for the Humanities Professor of African American Studies at Emory University. She is the coauthor, with Daina Ramey Berry, of A Black Women’s History of the United States, and author of Hannah Mary Tabbs and the Disembodied Torso: A Tale of Race, Sex, and Violence in America. She lives in Atlanta, Georgia

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