Patricia Hill Collins

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Patricia Hill Collins
Collins in 2014
Patricia Hill

(1948-05-01) May 1, 1948 (age 72)
Roger L. Collins
(m. 1977)
Academic background
Alma mater
ThesisRace, Gender and Labor Market Structure (1983)
Academic work
School or tradition
Notable worksBlack Feminist Thought (1990)
Notable ideasMatrix of domination

Patricia Hill Collins (born 1948) is an American academic specializing in race, class, and gender. She 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. 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, gender, and social inequality within the African-American community. She first came to national attention for her book Black Feminist Thought, originally published in 1990.[3]

Early life and career[edit]

Collins was born on May 1, 1948, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Her parents were Albert Hill, a factory worker and Second World War veteran, and Eunice Randolph Hill, a secretary. Her parents met in Washington, DC, where Eunice had migrated to find work after the end of the war. Patricia has no siblings.

Collins attended the Philadelphia public schools[2]—and 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. During the time of the 1950s and 1960s, when Patricia was going to school, most schools in northern cities like Philadelphia were channels for social mobility, and although they were well funded, they were not particularly easy to navigate, especially for African-Americans and people of color like Patricia. However, to her advantage, Patricia was part of a cohort of working-youth who had educational opportunities long denied to their parents. She attended Frederick Douglas Elementary School and later Philadelphia High School for Girls (aka Girls' High), which was founded in 1848 as the nation's first public high school for women only. Collins had the unique experience of attending Girls' High during the 1960s process of desegregation of schools, which contributed to her growing interest in sociology, feminism, and activism for African-American and civil rights.

Collins went on to pursue an undergraduate career at Brandeis University in 1965 as a sociology major, receiving her Bachelor of Arts degree in sociology in 1969. 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, alongside her husband, beginning in 1982.

In 1986, Collins published her first piece of writing in a sociological journal titled Social Problems. Titled "Learning From the Outsider Within", the article put Collins on the map as a sociologist as well as an activist for feminism and rights for African Americans. The article, published four years prior to her first book, articulates a standpoint reflecting her race, social class, and gender while she moved across and within various institutions. It also focuses on how African-American women have made creative use of their marginality, or "outsider" status, and benefited from this different way of thinking, a way of thinking that put themselves in the shoes of those who marginalize them.

In 1990, Collins published her first book, Black Feminist Thought: Knowledge, Consciousness and the Politics of Empowerment. A revised 10th-anniversary edition of the book was published in 2000, and subsequently translated into Korean in 2009.

In 2005, Collins joined the University of Maryland's department of sociology as a Distinguished University Professor. Working 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."[4]


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, 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.[5] 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]

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 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 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.[6]

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.[7] 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.[8] 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".[9] 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. 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.[10]

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 by her, 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. The author explores a range of examples, from American identity, to motherhood, to feminine portrayal in hip-hop. Following the Civil Rights Movement, she argues, there was a "shift from color-conscious 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".[11]

In 2009, Collins published Another Kind of Public Education: Race, Schools, the Media and Democratic Possibilities, in which she encourages the public to be more aware of and prevent the institutional discrimination that African-American children are experiencing today in the public education system. Collins explains that teachers have a great deal of power to be the facilitators of either discriminatory attitudes or tolerant attitudes; they are the "frontline actors negotiating the social issues of our time." 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.[12]

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

In 2016, Collins also published the book Intersectionality, with co-author Sirma Bilge, which discusses, in depth, the intertwined nature of social categorizations such as race, class and gender, and how they create a complex web of discrimination and disadvantage in society. Topics covered include social inequality, stratification, and civil rights, using contemporary examples such as specific companies, big business, and the FIFA world cup outcomes.

Career honors[edit]

Collins is recognized as a social theorist, drawing from many intellectual traditions. She reconceptualizes the ideas of race, class, and 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.

Representation of media[edit]

In 2009, a video from the C-Span website titled "BookTV: Patricia Hill Collins, author "Another Kind of Public Education"[19] Collins takes a visit to "Busboys & Poets", a restaurant/bookstore/theater located in Washington DC and provided an hour and 16 minutes-long "book talk" regarding her book Another Kind of Public Education.[12] As the website describes the video: "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."[20]

In 2012, a video from the YouTube website titled "Dr. Patricia Hill Collins Delivers 2012 Graduate Commencement Address",[21] Collins gives the commencement address at Arcadia University on Thursday, May 17, 2012, when she received an honorary doctorate; she provides stories of her past from growing up in Philadelphia, her parents (as well as her) 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.[21]

In 2014, a video from the YouTube website titled "Patricia Hill Collins at Grand Valley State University February 2014".[22][23] 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 is: "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."[22]

In 2015, a YouTube video titled "Patricia Hill Collins Keynote at 2015 Social Theory Forum @ UMass Boston".[24] 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]


  • Intersectionality as Critical Social Theory, Durham: Duke University Press, ISBN 978-1-4780-0646-6, 2019
  • On Intellectual Activism, Philadelphia: Temple University Press, ISBN 978-1-4399-0961-4, 2012
  • (co-edited with John Solomos) The SAGE Handbook of Race and Ethnic Studies, Los Angeles: London: SAGE, ISBN 978-0-7619-4220-7, 2010
  • Another Kind of Public Education: Race, the Media, Schools, and Democratic Possibilities, Beacon Press, ISBN 978-0-8070-0018-2, 2009
  • From Black Power to Hip Hop: Racism, Nationalism, and Feminism, Temple University Press, ISBN 978-1-59213-092-4, 2006
  • Black Sexual Politics: African Americans, Gender, and the New Racism, New York: Routledge, ISBN 978-0-415-93099-4, 2005
  • Fighting Words: Black Women and the Search for Justice, University of Minnesota Press, ISBN 978-0-8166-2377-8, 1998
  • (co-edited with Margaret Andersen) Race, Class and Gender: An Anthology, ISBN 978-0-534-52879-9, 1992, 1995, 1998, 2001, 2004, 2007, 2010
  • Black Feminist Thought: Knowledge, Consciousness and the Politics of Empowerment, Routledge, ISBN 978-0-415-92484-9, 1990, 2000

Book chapters[edit]

  • Hill Collins, Patricia (1996), "Black women and the sex/gender hierarchy", in Jackson, Stevi; Scott, Sue (eds.), Feminism and Sexuality: a reader, New York: Columbia University Press, pp. 307–313, ISBN 978-0-231-10708-2.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  • Hill Collins, Patricia (1997), "Defining Black feminist thought", in Nicholson, Linda (ed.), The Second Wave: A Reader in Feminist Theory, New York: Routledge, pp. 241–260, ISBN 978-0-415-91761-2.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)

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: 918–938.
  • "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.
  • "Learning from the Outsider Within: The Sociological Significance of Black Feminist Thought" in Social Problems. 33 (6), 1986: 14-32.

See also[edit]



  1. ^ a b c d e f g "Patricia Hill Collins: Distinguished University Professor". University of Maryland Department of Sociology. Retrieved November 9, 2015.[dead link]
  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 November 9, 2015.
  3. ^ a b c d e Collins, Patricia. 2000. Black Feminist Thought: Knowledge, Consciousness and the Politics of Empowerment. Routledge.
  4. ^ Cole, Nicki (October 7, 2016). "Patricia Hill Collins, Part 2". About Education. Retrieved October 7, 2016.
  5. ^ "Black Sexual Politics: African Americans, Gender, and the New Racism". Contemporary Sociology.
  6. ^ Andersen, Margaret L., and Patricia Hill Collins (2012): Race, Class, and Gender: An Anthology. Belmont, California: Wadsworth Cengage Learning.
  7. ^ "Fighting Words: Black Women and the Search for Justice". Social Forces. doi:10.2307/3005807.
  8. ^ "Fighting Words: Black Women and the Search for Justice / The American Dream in Black and White: The Clarence Thomas Hearings". NWSA Journal.
  9. ^ Collins, Patricia Hill (1998). Fighting Words: Black Women and the Search for Justice. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press. p. 344.
  10. ^ Collins, Patricia Hill (2005). Black Sexual Politics: African-Americans, Gender, and New Racism. New York, NY: Routledge. ISBN 978-0-415-95150-0.
  11. ^ Collins, Patricia Hill (2006). From Black Power to Hip Hop: Racism, Nationalism and Feminism. Philadelphia, PA: Temple University Press.
  12. ^ a b Collins, Patricia Hill, and Simmons College (2009). Another Kind of Public Education: Race, Schools, the Media and Democratic Possibilities. Boston: Beacon Press.
  13. ^ Tiffany, Laura. 2013. "Scholar and Author Patricia Hill Collins to Speak on Black Feminism at Pomona College on Jan 30."
  14. ^ Office of Faculty Affairs of University of Maryland 2006
  15. ^ "Distinguished Scholarly Book ASA Award". American Sociological Association. Archived from the original on November 20, 2015. Retrieved November 9, 2015.
  16. ^ (Routledge, 2005)
  17. ^ Present & Fellows Harvard University AOCC. 2011. "Dr. Patricia Hill Collins."
  18. ^ Burrows, Leah. 2013. "Scholar of Race and Gender Honored Gittler Prize."
  19. ^ BookTV (July 21, 2009), BookTV: Patricia Hill Collins, author "Another Kind of Public Education", retrieved October 18, 2016
  20. ^ "BookTV: Patricia Hill Collins, author "Another Kind of Public Education"".
  21. ^ a b "Dr. Patricia Hill Collins Delivers 2012 Graduate Commencement Address".
  22. ^ a b "Patricia Hill Collins at Grand Valley State University February 2014".
  23. ^ "Dr. Patricia Hill Collins Gives Lecture on "Lessons from Black Feminism"".
  24. ^ "Patricia Hill Collins Keynote at 2015 Social Theory Forum @ UMass Boston".

Works cited[edit]

  • 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.
  • James Farganis, Readings in Social Theory: The Classic Tradition to Post-Modernism. 7th ed.
  • Patricia Hill Collins and Sirma Bilge, Intersectionality, 2016.

External links[edit]

Academic offices
Preceded by
Arne L. Kalleberg
President of the American Sociological Association
Succeeded by
Evelyn Nakano Glenn
Preceded by
Barbara Katz Rothman
Jessie Bernard Award
With: Dorothy E. Smith and the
Memphis State University Center for Research on Women
Succeeded by
Arlene Kaplan Daniels
Succeeded by
Madeline Davis
Succeeded by
Ruth Frankenberg
Succeeded by
Elizabeth Lapovsky Kennedy