If you’ve been following our #FeministLiteracy series (and if you haven’t…what are you doing with your life?) and the work that WE-Change has done over the years, the word “intersectionality” should feel like home: familiar. If you don’t have the pleasure of knowing us for that long, stay tuned as we take a dive into what intersectionality is and how WE have incorporated it into our advocacy and activism.
When Kimberlé Crenshaw enlisted the term, her point of reference was how gender, race and class discrimination overlap for African-American women, shaping their experience before the law. Subsequently, the term became a powerful method of qualitative analysis of how multiple systems of oppression (sexism, racism, homophobia, etc) work in tandem to prevent Black Women from receiving equal opportunities or access to quality education, housing, medical care, you name it. And though the context in which Crenshaw framed her theory is America, this analysis is extremely applicable to Caribbean women and that’s why WE use it to inform how WE design our programmes and go about our advocacy work.
One of our staple programmes, the Social and Economic Justice programme, was designed based on our understanding of the position in society that queer women occupy that not only shuts them out of economic opportunities, but relegates them social outcasts. Unaccepted. With this in mind, the programme equipped women with information on the ways in which women are economically disadvantaged, unpaid care work but also built the capacity of lesbian, bisexual and trans women to actively participate in advocacy.
In more recent years it has been associated with existing in multiple social groups and how they work together to construct your identity (for example, Jane is a Black Caribbean trans woman who lives in an inner-city community). But it does go beyond identities or a way to describe multiple identities. Intersectionality allowed Black women to describe how distinctly different their experiences were from White women – who, though they shared the experience of being discriminated based on gender, still had white privilege.
WE hope this was useful in understanding the concept of “intersectionality” (and so will use it correctly in the future lol). Next week WE’ll be at it again talking about Feminism vs Womanism!
For resources, take a look at the ones linked in our very first blog post in the series: What is Feminism?