Intersectionality is a way of looking at history and modern society that acknowledges that:
- each person has a unique combination of identities,
- these identities result in structural and interpersonal advantages and hardships, and
- these advantages and hardships impact both our access to opportunity and our ability to take advantage of it.
These identities can include things like:
- Race (and perceived race)
- Gender (and perceived gender)
- Economic background
- Disability (visible and invisible)
- Sexual orientation
It’s all a mix
Another important point is that everyone has a mix of advantages and disadvantages. An upper middle-class black woman with a PhD. from Harvard is going to have better job prospects than a working class white guy who has a GED, but she’s still got to deal with rape culture and is 2.8x more likely to get killed by police than he is.
In her own words…
Kimberlé Crenshaw first coined the term “intersectionality” in 1989. Here is her TED talk on the subject from 2016.
What do we do with this?
The point of all this is simple: we are all one species and no human life is worth more than any other.
This means we have to stop thinking of ourselves as being on different teams and start standing up for one another; but that starts with awareness.
Try asking yourself these questions:
- Who listens to me and takes my opinion and needs into consideration? Who doesn’t? Why? Who do they listen to?
- Who has more power than I do? Who has less? How can I use the power society gives me to make life better for people who have less of that kind of power?
- When was the last time I really listened to someone who has less power than I do? What did I learn?
- What parts of this make me uncomfortable? Why?
The goal is to get to a world where everyone gets the same basic social support from their fellow human beings. No human being should ever have to live without:
- Breathable air
- Drinkable water
- A safe place to live
- Food that is culturally and nutritionally appropriate
- Clothing that is culturally and environmentally appropriate
- Medical care, including mental health and reproductive health
- An education that fits their individual needs as a learner
It should not be a politically controversial statement to say that all human beings are worthy of care. We can disagree about how we get to this world; but the time has come for us to come together around advocating for this basic standard of living for everyone.
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