The urgency of intersectionality

Now, more than ever, it seems necessary to lay out the importance of adopting an intersectional perspective in order to face reality biases and discriminations. We’ll look at discrimination a little more closely: A black, Jewish woman may, for instance, experience discrimination on the grounds of her race, religion and gender. This phenomenon is called multiple discrimination, discrimination against one person based on more than one ground. Multiple discrimination is complicated and occasionally difficult to grasp for those not affected by it, especially for people who are not affected by it. But intersectionality provides us with a way of seeing and understanding it.


What does intersectionality mean?

Intersectionality” can be seen as an analytical framework that attempts to identify where power comes from and its points of collision. It points out where power structures interlock and intersect and as a result affect marginalized groups in society. When we talk about intersectionality, we consider the idea that different forms of social stratification such as race, age, religion, class, gender, and a number of other axes do not exist separately from each other – they overlap and often set off multiple levels of social injustice and intersectional exclusions. In its beginning, the theory was created in response to the oppression of women of color. Nowadays, it has become more widely used – for example in the context of LGBTIQA+ people, immigrants, people with disabilities – and can be applied to all social categories.

Let’s talk about injustice

As a pioneer in critical race theory, Kimberlé Crenshaw coined the term “intersectionality” as a way of analyzing the oppression of women of color. Her aim was to counteract the problem that identity politics conflates or ignores intra-group differences. This elision of differences needs to be overcome because violence against women is often shaped by other dimensions of their identities, such as race and class, as well.

Crenshaw considers the experiences of African-American women to be the product of intersecting patterns of racism and sexism. She draws on this academic term to describe real-life violence and bias against women of color. That’s how this academic term is used to describe violence and bias against women of color. Because of their intersectional identity, the interests and experiences of women of color are frequently discriminated against within both. Intersectionality is not only relevant for academic debates – it has also shaped legal discussions and is used in the context of identity politics and racial justice.

Speak up for victims of prejudice

In her inspiring TED Talk, Kimberlé Crenshaw talks about framing – a process of embedding events and topics in grids of interpretation – and shows us the problems that this social construction can cause.  As a solution, she points out the importance of an intersectional approach, talking about the origin of this term and of her analytical framework. She shows us how an intersectional analysis might allow us to better see and understand dilemmas caused by overlapping discrimination and various forms of social stratification.

Crenshaw’s very emotional talk concentrates on the dilemmas and challenges that marginalized people face as a consequence of their intersectional identities by considering intersections of race and gender. Giving a number of examples, she exposes the power mechanisms that contribute to women of color being assaulted and even murdered and with the help of Abby Dobson, she encourages everybody to speak up for victims of prejudice.

Image: Photo by William Stitt on Unsplash

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About Salome Lixl

..currently I'm studying at the University of Vienna trying to strengthen my abilities and to find my passions. A way to implement this is writing.

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