According to Patricia Hill Collins, any oppressed group such as black women have a common goal they want empowerment. In order to achieve this goal black women must rethink feminism as a social justice project with a complex notion of empowerment. As discussed in Black Feminist Thought, this can be accomplished by analyzing the domains of power.
The four domains of power include, structural, disciplinary, hegemonic, and interpersonal. “Structural domain of power encompasses how social institutions are organized to reproduce Black women’s subordination over time” (Collins p 295). These institutions have become conditioned to oppress black women for decades; everyday ideologies are taking for granted because we believe they are natural. Hill Collins states, “structural forms of injustice that permeate the entire society yield only grudgingly to change” (Collins p 296). What she means by this is even though black women have made many advancements, discrimination and oppression has not gone away just the face of it has change with the time. The second domain of power is disciplinary which manages within organizations. As we read in Black Feminist Thought, “disciplinary domain of power has increased in importance with the growing significance of bureaucracy as a mode of modern social organization” (Collins p 299). This form of power allows for the institutions to reproduce oppressions as well as mask their effects. According to Collins, she believes that resistance from black women within these bureaucracies is the main strategy for changing this domain (Collins p 300). Hegemonic power is the third domain covered in Black Feminist Thought.
“Hegemonic domain of power deals with ideologies, culture, and consciousness” (Collins p 302). In order for the dominant groups to remain in power they create social stereotypes and ideologies about an oppressed group, which are then reinforced by popular media and help to legitimize the dominant groups rule. Hill Collins states that black women need to focus on self-definition and reclaiming the “power of the mind” as an important way of demonstrating their resistance (Collins p 304). The fourth and final power of domain is the interpersonal. Interpersonal domain of power gives into the dominant groups hegemonic ideologies and makes the oppressed groups forget their own culture and ways of knowing (Collins p 306). As we read in Black Feminist Thought, black women and oppressed groups need to focus on individual change before they can change as a whole. The only way in which an oppressed group can change is through collective action but in order for collection action to happen, individual empowerment must occur first.