Patricia Hill Collins

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Patricia Hill Collins
Born (1948-05-01) May 1, 1948 (age 68)
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Residence College Park, Maryland
Era Contemporary philosophy
Region Western Philosophy
School Black feminism, American pragmatism
Institutions Brandeis University, Harvard University
Main interests
Sociology of knowledge, Race, Class, Gender Theory

Patricia Hill Collins (born May 1, 1948) is a Distinguished University Professor of Sociology at the University of Maryland, College Park.[1] She is also the former head of the Department of African-American Studies at the University of Cincinnati, and a past President of the American Sociological Association Council. Collins was the 100th president of the ASA and the first African-American woman to hold this position.[2]

Collins's work primarily concerns issues involving feminism and gender within the African-American community. She first came to national attention for her book Black Feminist Thought: Knowledge, Consciousness and the Politics of Empowerment, originally published in 1990.[3]

Early life and career[edit]

Collins was born in 1948 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Her parents were Albert Hill, a factory worker and World War II veteran, and Eunice Randolph Hill, a secretary; she has no siblings. Collins attended the Philadelphia public schools[2]—even at a young age, Collins had the realization of her lived reality—she attended a school that catered to mostly white middle class students that was in a predominantly black neighborhood. Collins later on went to pursue an undergrad career at Brandeis University in 1969 as a sociology major. She proceeded to earn a Master of Arts degree in Teaching (MAT) in Social Science Education from Harvard University in 1970.[2] From 1970 to 1976, she was a teacher and curriculum specialist at St. Joseph Community School in Roxbury, Boston, among two others.[2] She went on to become the Director of the Africana Center at Tufts University from 1976 to 1980. At Tufts, she met and married Roger L. Collins, a professor of education at the University of Cincinnati, with whom she has one daughter, Valerie L. Collins.[2]

She completed her doctorate in sociology back at Brandeis in 1984. While earning her PhD, Collins worked as an assistant professor at the University of Cincinnati beginning in 1982.

In 1990, Collins published her first book, Black Feminist Thought: Knowledge, Consciousness and the Politics of Empowerment. A revised tenth-anniversary edition of the book was published in 2000, and subsequently translated into Korean in 2009.

Published work[edit]


In 1990, Collins published Black Feminist Thought: Knowledge, Consciousness and the Politics of Empowerment, which looked at the title topic through such figures as Angela Davis, Alice Walker and Audre Lorde. The analysis incorporated a wide range of sources, including fiction, poetry, music and oral history. This book is the first book to incorporate the literature of and by African-American women. Collins's work concluded with three central claims:

  • Oppressions of race, class, gender, sexuality and nation are intersecting, mutually constructing systems of power. Collins utilizes the term "intersectionality," originally coined by Kimberlé Crenshaw, to refer to this simultaneous overlapping of multiple forms of oppression.
  • Because Black women have unique histories at the intersections of systems of power, they have created world views out of a need for self-definition and to work on behalf of social justice. Black women's specific experiences with intersecting systems of oppression provide a window into these same processes for other individuals and social groups.

In Black Feminist Thought, Collins posits how Black feminist studies made of Black women's works highlight two very important themes. One being "how Black women's paid work is organized within intersecting oppressions of race, class, and gender."[3]:45 Although these women have fled from domestic work in private homes, they continue to work at low-paying jobs.[4] Moreover, she continues, the theme that "concerns how Black women's unpaid family labor is simultaneously confining and empowering" for them is also extremely important.[3]:46 Collins emphasizes this point because she points out that Black women see the unpaid work of their household as a method of resistance to oppression rather than a method of manipulation by men.[3][page needed] Her first book, Black Feminist Thought: Knowledge, Consciousness and the Politics of Empowerment, was published in 1990.[3]

Published in 1992, Race, Class and Gender: An Anthology was a collaboration with Margaret Andersen, in which Collins helped edit a compilation of essays on the issues of race, class and gender. The book is widely recognized for shaping the field of race, class and gender studies as well as its related concept of intersectionality. The included essays cover a variety of topics, from historical trends and their lasting effects today, to the current media portrayal of minority groups. The sixth edition was published in 2007.[5]

Collins published a third book Fighting Words: Black Women and the Search for Justice in 1998. Fighting Words focused on how Black women have confronted the injustices against them within Black communities, expanding on the idea of "outsiders within" from her previous book. She examines how outsiders resist the majority's perspective, while simultaneously pushing for and creating new insight on the social injustices that exist.[6] Collins also notes how acknowledging the social theories of oppressed groups are important because their different experiences have created new angles of looking at human rights and injustice.[7] This has not always been the case because, as she points out, the "elites possess the power to legitimate the knowledge that they define as theory as being universal, normative, and ideal".[8] Fighting Words seeks to explore how Black women can change from simply having "thoughts" to rather being considered as having "theories".

Collins's next book was Black Sexual Politics: African Americans, Gender, and the New Racism, published in 2004. This work argued that racism and heterosexism were intertwined, and that ideals of beauty work to oppress African-Americans males and females, whether homo-, bi- or heterosexual. In it, Collins asserts that people must examine the intersection of race, class, and gender, and that looking at each issue separately leads to missing a large part of the problem. Her argument for resisting the creation of such narrow gender roles requires action on individual and community levels, and recognizing success in areas other than those typically respected by Americans, such as money or beauty. Collins also contends that the oppression of African-Americans cannot be successfully resisted until oppressions within their own group, such as towards women or LGBT people, are stopped. Black Sexual Politics won the Distinguished Scholarly Book Award from the American Sociological Association.[9]

In 2006 she published From Black Power to Hip Hop: Racism, Nationalism, and Feminism, which examines the relationship between Black nationalism, feminism and women in the hip-hop generation. The book is a compilation of multiple essays of hers, written over multiple years, compiled into one cohesive examination of the current situation of African-Americans. Collins examines the prejudice existing today, which she calls "new racism," and explores how old ideas about what racism is prevents society from recognizing and fixing the wrongdoings that still greatly exist today. The author explores a range of examples, from American identity, to motherhood, to feminine portrayal in hip-hop. Following the Civil Rights Movement, Collins argues, there was a "shift from color-blind racism that relied on strict racial segregation to a seemingly colorblind racism that promised equal opportunities yet provided no lasting avenues for African American advancement".[10]

In 2009, she published Another Kind of Public Education: Race, Schools, the Media and Democratic Possibilities, in which Collins encourages the public to be more aware of and prevent the institutional discrimination young African-American kids are suffering from today in the public education system. Claiming that the education system is greatly influenced by the media, Collins examines racism as a system of power preventing education and democracy to reach its full potential.[11]

Collins co-edited with John Solomos The Handbook of Race and Ethnic Studies (2010), and in 2012 published On Intellectual Activism.

Career honors[edit]

Collins is recognized as a social theorist, drawing from many intellectual traditions. Collins reconceptualize the ideas of race, class as well as gender as interlocking systems of oppression. Her more than 40 articles and essays have been published in a wide range of fields, including philosophy, history, psychology, and most notably sociology.

Personal life[edit]

In 2005, Collins joined the University of Maryland’s department of sociology as a Distinguished University Professor. She works closely with graduate students on issues regarding race, feminist thought, and feminist theory. She maintains an active research agenda and continues to write books and articles in relations to social racial and gender issues. Her current work has transcended the borders of the United States, in keeping with the recognition within sociological globalized social system. Collins is focused on understanding, in her own words: "How African American male and female youth's experiences with social issues of education, unemployment, popular culture and political activism articulate with global phenomena, specifically, complex social inequalities, global capitalist development, transnationalism, and political activism."[18]


"Oppressed groups are frequently placed in the situation of being listened to only if we frame our ideas in the language that is familiar to and comfortable for a dominant group. This requirement often changes the meaning of our ideas and works to elevate the ideas of dominant groups." [19]

"Challenging power structures from the inside, working the cracks within the system, however, requires learning to speak multiple languages of power convincingly."[19]

"Social conditions that spur large numbers of people into action are ignored in favor of a Hollywood version of history focusing on one conquering hero. Since a movement for social change is embodied in its leader, death of the leader means death of the movement."[19]

“Racism didn't magically go away just because we refuse to talk about it. Rather, overt racial language is replaced by covert racial euphemisms that reference the same phenomena-talk of "niggers" and "ghettos" becomes replaced by phrases such as "urban," "welfare mothers," and "street crime." Everyone knows what these terms mean, and if they don't, they quickly figure it out.” (From her 2012 book: On Intellectual Activism)[20]

Representation of Media[edit]

Patricia Hill Collins reads an excerpt in "Busboys & Poets" (Located in Washington DC; MAY 14, 2009)

In 2009, a video from the C-Span website titled "BookTV: Patricia Hill Collins, author "Another Kind of Public Education"[21] Collins takes a visit to "Busboys & Poets", a restaurant/bookstore/theater located in Washington DC and provided an hour and sixteen minute long "book talk" regarding her new book: Another Kind of Public Education[11]. She talked briefly on what inspired her to write this book and the people's stories that filled the pages; Collins also reads an excerpt from her book.

The website description from this video also follows: "Professor Collins posits that public education is heavily influenced by the media and by the continuing influence of institutional racism and she examines ways in which schools perpetuate racism and other forms of social inequality. Professor Collins also read passages from her book and responded to questions from members of the audience."[22]

Dr. Collins facilitated a workshop for Intersections staff members and other campus partners (Located in Grand Valley State University; Thursday, February 27, 2014)

In 2012, a video from the Youtube website titled "Dr. Patricia Hill Collins Delivers 2012 Graduate Commencement Address".[23] Collins gives Arcadia University's Class of 2012 the commencement address; she provides stories of her past from growing up in Philadelphia, her parents (as well as her's) struggles, and being in a school that predominately caters to middle class white students. She also touches upon breaking her silence and how she came about using her voice as a critical instrument to make social change.

The website description from this video also follows: "Patricia Hill Collins, Ph.D., author and faculty member at the University of Maryland, received an Honorary Doctorate and spoke during Graduate Commencement at Arcadia University on Thursday, May 17, 2012."[24]

In 2014, a video from the Youtube website titled "Patricia Hill Collins at Grand Valley State University February 2014".[25][26] Collins gives a talk to undergrad students from Grand Valley State University in which she expresses her concern of mainstream colorblindness, especially focusing on issues of racial profiling (regarding African Americans) [regarding Trayvon Martin] and tackling other issues regarding race, sex, class, etc. Also reads mini excerpts from her book: Black Feminist Thought[3].

The website description from this video also follows: "On February 26, 2014, Grand Valley State University's Office of Multicultural Affairs, Women's Center and LGBT Resource Center hosted Patricia Hill Collins as part of ongoing Intersections programming. Patricia Hill Collins presented "We Who Believe in Freedom Cannot Rest: Lessons from Black Feminism."[27]

In 2015, a video from the Youtube website titled "Patricia Hill Collins Keynote at 2015 Social Theory Forum @ UMass Boston".[28] Collins visits University of Massachusetts Boston and presents a presentation regarding the sociological theory mainly focusing on intersectionality's challenges and the critical inquiries.

Selected bibliography[edit]


Book chapters[edit]

  • Hill Collins, Patricia (1996), "Black women and the sex/gender hierarchy", in Jackson, Stevi; Scott, Sue, Feminism and Sexuality: a reader, New York: Columbia University Press, pp. 307–313, ISBN 9780231107082. 
  • Hill Collins, Patricia (1997), "Defining Black feminist thought", in Nicholson, Linda, The Second Wave: A Reader in Feminist Theory, New York: Routledge, pp. 241–260, ISBN 9780415917612. 

Selected journal articles[edit]

  • "Just Another American Story? The First Black First Family." in Qualitative Sociology 35 (2), 2012: 123–141.
  • "New Commodities, New Consumers: Selling Blackness in the Global Marketplace," in Ethnicities 6 (3), 2006: 297–317.
  • "Like One of the Family: Race, Ethnicity, and the Paradox of the US National Identity." in Ethnic and Racial Studies 24 (1), 2001: 3–28.
  • "The Tie that Binds: Race, Gender, and U.S. Violence." in Ethnic and Racial Studies 21 (5), 1998: 918–38.
  • "What's In a Name: Womanism, Black Feminism and Beyond" in Black Scholar 26 (1), 1996: 9–17.
  • "The Meaning of Motherhood in Black Culture and Black Mother/Daughter Relationships" in Sage: A Scholarly Journal on Black Woman 4 (2), 1987: 4–11.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g "Patricia Hill Collins: Distinguished University Professor". University of Maryland Department of Sociology. Retrieved 9 November 2015. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Higginbotham, Elizabeth (September 2008). "A New Perspective with Patricia Hill Collins". Footnotes. American Sociological Association. 36 (7). Retrieved 9 November 2015. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f Collins, Patricia. 2000. Black Feminist Thought: Knowledge, Consciousness and the Politics of Empowerment. Routledge
  4. ^ "Black Sexual Politics: African Americans, Gender, and the New Racism". Contemporary Sociology. 
  5. ^ Andersen, Margaret L., and Patricia Hill Collins (2012): Race, Class, and Gender: An Anthology. Belmont, California: Wadsworth Cengage Learning.
  6. ^ "Fighting Words: Black Women and the Search for Justice". Social Forces. 
  7. ^ "Fighting Words: Black Women and the Search for Justice / The American Dream in Black and White: The Clarence Thomas Hearings". NWSA Journal. 
  8. ^ Collins, Patricia Hill (1998). Fighting Words: Black Women and the Search for Justice. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press. p. 344. 
  9. ^ Collins, Patricia Hill (2005). Black Sexual Politics: African-Americans, Gender, and New Racism. New York, NY: Routledge. ISBN 9780415951500. 
  10. ^ Collins, Patricia Hill (2006). From Black Power to Hip Hop: Racism, Nationalism and Feminism. Philadelphia, PA: Temple University Press. 
  11. ^ a b Collins, Patricia Hill, and Simmons College (2009). Another Kind of Public Education: Race, Schools, the Media and Democratic Possibilities. Boston: Beacon Press.
  12. ^ Tiffany, Laura. 2013. "Scholar and Author Patricia Hill Collins to Speak on Black Feminism at Pomona College on Jan 30."
  13. ^ Office of Faculty Affairs of University of Maryland 2006
  14. ^ "Distinguished Scholarly Book ASA Award". American Sociological Association. Retrieved 9 November 2015. 
  15. ^ (Routledge, 2005)
  16. ^ Present & Fellows Harvard University AOCC. 2011. "Dr. Patricia Hill Collins."
  17. ^ Burrows, Leah. 2013. "Scholar of Race and Gender Honored Gittler Prize."
  18. ^ Cole, Nicki (October 7, 2016). "Patricia Hill Collins, Part 2". About Education. Retrieved October 7, 2016. 
  19. ^ a b c "Patricia Hill Collins Quotes". 
  20. ^ "Patricia Hill Collins > Quotes". 
  21. ^ BookTV (2009-07-21), BookTV: Patricia Hill Collins, author "Another Kind of Public Education", retrieved 2016-10-18 
  22. ^ "BookTV: Patricia Hill Collins, author "Another Kind of Public Education"". 
  23. ^ "Dr. Patricia Hill Collins Delivers 2012 Graduate Commencement Address". 
  24. ^ "Dr. Patricia Hill Collins Delivers 2012 Graduate Commencement Address". 
  25. ^ "Patricia Hill Collins at Grand Valley State University February 2014". 
  26. ^ "Dr. Patricia Hill Collins Gives Lecture on "Lessons from Black Feminism"". 
  27. ^ "Patricia Hill Collins at Grand Valley State University February 2014". 
  28. ^ "Patricia Hill Collins Keynote at 2015 Social Theory Forum @ UMass Boston". 


  • Gale Group, Contemporary Authors Online, 2001 article on Patricia Hill Collins, published on Biography Resource Centre, 2005.
  • Feminist Authors, St James Press, 1996, article on Patricia Hill Collins. Reproduced on Biography Resource Centre, 2005.
  • "Patricia Hill Collins", World of Sociology, 2 volumes, Gale Group, 2001. Reproduced on Biography Resource Centre, 2005.
  • "Patricia Hill Collins", Directory of American Scholars 10th edition, Gale Group, 2001.
  • "Dr Patricia Hill Collins, Who's Who Among African-Americans 18th edition, Gale Group, 2005.
  • Tonya Bolden, "Review of Black Feminist Thought", in Black Enterprise, July 1992, v22, n12, p. 12(1).
  • Tamala M. Edwards, "The F Word", Essence, May 1999, volume 30, issue 1, p. 90.
  • Katherine C. Adams, review of Black Sexual Politics, Library Journal April 1, 2004, v129 i6, p. 111.
  • Charles Lemert, "Social Theory", The Multicultural and Classic Readings 4th Edition Westview Press, 2010.

External links[edit]