A Cultural History Of Intersectionality, And It Dates Back To Sojourner Truth
When Kimberlé Crenshaw coined the term intersectionality in 1989, she was criticizing work that treated race and gender as exclusive parts of human experience and that as a result ignored black women’s experiences. Her analysis meant to highlight that black women’s experiences of oppression differed from white women’s, whose main focus was on gendered discrimnation, and also from black men’s, who predominantly were focused on racial subjugation.
In a sense, she was asking – if woman is the nigger of the world, then what does that make the black woman? If colonial racism was the black man’s burden then in what way was black woman to be part of the solution?
Intersectionality is what occurs when a woman from a minority group tries to navigate the main crossing in the city. The main highway is ‘racism road’. One cross street can be Colonialism, then Patriarchy Street . . .. She has to deal not only with one form of oppression but with all forms, which link together to make a double, a triple, multiple, a many layered blanket of oppression. – Kimberlé Crenshaw, 1989
The metaphor shows how black women experience discrimination in ways that sometimes are similar to black men’s and sometimes to white women’s. It gives a visual idea of how black women experience multiple discrimination – the combined effects of institutional racism and sexism.
Read More // Source: ~ A cultural history of intersectionality, and it dates back to Sojourner Truth ~
If You’re White, Don’t Call Yourself An “intersectional Feminist” And Don’t Use “intersectionality” For White People
This is what white feminism has done to intersectionality. White feminism has no commitment to black women. To our lives, our narratives, our concerns or our histories. Patricia hill collins had and has a complete and total commitment to black women. Her work is based on a long standing oral and academic tradition of remembering and honoring those who came before her. Who helped to shape these ideas. And most importantly, they center the black woman’s experience in all of it.
Intersectionality is meant as a bottom up approach, not a top down approach. Those with power cannot be “intersectional”. You are also not living intersectional experiences. Intersectionality was always about exposing the ways black women are caught up in multiple systems of oppression, namely race, gender and class, but often many more. It is meant to help black women understand their experiences in a white supremacist patriarchal culture like the U.S. Or much of western nations that have applied this model onto most cultures from the outside. Most importantly, it is meant to help black women see the ways their experiences are connected to one another and not a product of self-deficiency but structural real systems that have cultural and economic benefits for ruling/dominant classes.
Understanding black women live intersectional experiences gives us insight into the ways race, gender and class, heterosexism and more all work together in ways that restrict black women’s access to resources. And access to resources is what is really one of the most important things needed in black women’s lives. Which white feminism is not committed to in any way. When black women learn more about classism, sexism, racism, heterosexism and more (such as transmisogyny, islamophobia, convicted felon status, etc) and how they work, we learn more about how we can define ourselves without those systems imposing our identities onto us. We can also learn more about how to combat and navigate these systems.
Read More // Source: ~ like being very clear, when i asked Patricia Hill Collins about the co-opting of her terms and the use of white feminisms use of intersectionality as a feminist theory she had CHOICE words ~
Kimberlé Crenshaw on intersectionality: “I wanted to come up with an everyday metaphor that anyone could use”
For Crenshaw, a law professor at UCLA and Columbia, intersectionality theory came about specifically to address a particular problem. “It’s important to clarify that the term was used to capture the applicability of black feminism to anti-discrimination law,” she says. In the lecture she delivered at the LSE later that evening, she brought up the case of Degraffenreid vs General Motors, in which five black women sued GM on the grounds of race and gender discrimination. “The particular challenge in the law was one that was grounded in the fact that anti-discrimination law looks at race and gender separately,” she says. “The consequence of that is when African American women or any other women of colour experience either compound or overlapping discrimination, the law initially just was not there to come to their defence.”
The courts’ thinking was that black women could not prove gender discrimination because not all women were discriminated against, and they couldn’t prove race discrimination because not all black people were discriminated against. A compound discrimination suit would, in the courts’ eyes, constitute preferential treatment, something nobody else could do. Crenshaw laughs when she adds: “Of course, no one else had to do that. Intersectionality was a way of addressing what it was that the courts weren’t seeing.”
Cases like these informed much of her earlier work on intersectionality – trying to show how these African American plaintiffs’ arguments rested on the ability to show that the discrimination they were experiencing was the combination of two different kinds of policies. But there was an additional point to the theory as well: pointing out that the tools being used to remedy the overlapping discrimination – anti-discrimination law – were themselves inadequate. “You’ve got to show that the kind of discrimination people have conceptualised is limited because they stop their thinking when the discrimination encounters another kind of discrimination,” she says. “I wanted to come up with a common everyday metaphor that people could use to say: “it’s well and good for me to understand the kind of discriminations that occur along this avenue, along this axis – but what happens when it flows into another axis, another avenue?”