“Intersectionality means showing up even when the issues don’t affect us directly. Stay awake and stay active.”


The pretext for this digression into intersectionality is a viral post on social media (below).

Locally, Courtney Lewis pointed to it, and so did writer Kate Aaron as part of a web post about “how to Trump a Trumpie.”

Given that Kimberlé Crenshaw is known for the introduction and development of intersectional theory, her video outlines the concept of intersectionality, and I’ve embedded it (above) because the comments at YouTube are a morass of dumbass — but by all means, check ’em out if you’re a connoisseur of our brave old world of dialogue.

The video also can be viewed here:

Kimberlé Crenshaw: The urgency of intersectionality

Now more than ever, it’s important to look boldly at the reality of race and gender bias — and understand how the two can combine to create even more harm. Kimberlé Crenshaw uses the term “intersectionality” to describe this phenomenon; as she says, if you’re standing in the path of multiple forms of exclusion, you’re likely to get hit by both. In this moving talk, she calls on us to bear witness to this reality and speak up for victims of prejudice.

As best I can tell, the author of this note on social media is Kristen Tea*, and it is both timely and appreciated.

I want my friends to understand that “staying out of politics” or being “sick of politics” is privilege in action. Your privilege allows you to live a non-political existence. Your wealth, your race, your abilities or your gender allows you to live a life in which you likely will not be a target of bigotry, attacks, deportation, or genocide. You don’t want to get political, you don’t want to fight because your life and safety are not at stake.

It is hard and exhausting to bring up issues of oppression (aka “get political”). The fighting is tiring. I get it. Self-care is essential. But if you find politics annoying and you just want everyone to be nice, please know that people are literally fighting for their lives and safety. You might not see it, but that’s what privilege does.

I also want to say to my friends who are new to this, my friends who have recently become more vocal, my friends who’ve seen the damage Trumplestiltskin has done so far, my friends who went to the women’s march — I am proud of you for getting involved. Don’t stop there. Keep having these discussions, keep talking about politics, stay active.

And when you read the critiques of the march from other progressive women who didn’t feel represented, don’t get defensive or discouraged. Activism needs critique. We need to ask ourselves where we were as Flint’s water has been poisoned, or where we were when Philando Castile was killed, or John Crawford or Eric Garner. If the women who showed up at the march showed up when people of color were murdered, it would stop.

Intersectionality means showing up even when the issues don’t affect us directly. Stay awake and stay active. We need you so much right now.

* A gentle hint: if you really want a fact-based world, learn how to properly attribute.