Language/Definititions: Intersectionality

Key Definition



Intersectionality first emerged in the context of feminism (acknowledging that while all women face sexism, the sexism that black women face is uniquely challenging, because it also involves racism), but has more recently come to refer to the complex and ever-shifting way that many different varieties of discrimination overlap, accumulate, and intersect. The term is also now being used to discuss how different causes (such as racial justice and environmental justice, for example) are joining forces in the recognition that they share common values and face common threats. (Words Matter: A Racial Justice Glossary)

If you have twenty minutes...

Read this article: What is Intersectionality and What Does It Have to Do With Me?, YW Boston, March 2017

Intersectionality may seem theoretical, but it is meant to be utilized. No matter how or when you have become involved with equity work, it is always possible to more fully integrate intersectionality into your view of these issues.

Or watch this video: The Urgency of Intersectionality (20 Minutes)

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 TED talk, she calls on us to bear witness to this reality and speak up for victims of prejudice.

If you have an hour...

Rev. Dr. William J. Barber of the Poor People's Campaign gave this plenary address at the Friends General Conference Gathering in 2018. Rev. Dr. Barber speaks about the legacy of structural racism and classism and the intersection of all justice causes: "A moral witness is always a fusion witness, it is a witness that challenges injustices in all its forms." (video, 68 minutes)

 America Must Have a Moral Revival 

Questions for Conversation and Journaling

Is your current work toward social equity/social justice intersectional? In what ways could it be more so?

In what ways could understanding intersectionality create potential for positive outcomes?

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