Intersectionality – A Privilege Conversation

In April 2017, Merriam-Webster added the word Intersectionality to the dictionary. This is the definition — the complex, cumulative way in which the effects of multiple forms of discrimination (such as racism, sexism, and classism) combine, overlap, or intersect especially in the experiences of marginalized individuals or groups.

It also notes that Kimberlé Crenshaw introduced this theory 30 years ago before it went viral. Something to note, Crenshaw is a black woman. She coined this term initially to discuss the challenges that black women have in society. Since being introduced, it is being used to describe the components of what makes up people in society. The ‘things’ that can put you in the privilege category or a part of the oppressed group.

If you type Intersectionality into Google, several images appear to help describe such a word. Here’s a couple:

Photo cred: iwda.org.au
Photo cred: jmoreliving.com

Through Crenshaw’s writing and research, she explains that women and people of color have to navigate their intersections of identity differently than the majority, white men. Looking at the above images that ‘help’ explain the term, I don’t see how intersectionality is different from one person to the next. It shows overlapping and various factors that make up an individual, but something is missing. What is missing is the distinction between privilege and oppression and how it overlaps.

If the above images were displayed to a room during a discussion, individuals could decipher their intersections. But, it’s harder to envision the intersections of other people, specifically if a white man is viewing. Kimberlé didn’t coin this term just for the marginalized community. We understand our areas of oppression and how it lands in the system…….


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