White. Male. Christian. Wealthy. Young. Able-Bodied. Hetero-sexual … If you do NOT belong to all of these groups at the same time, you’ve been oppressed at some time in some way.
And if you do not belong to all of these groups at the same time, you should be able to relate to the struggles of others who don’t belong to all of these groups at the same time. You should understand their oppression because you too are oppressed.
And if you do not belong to all of these groups at the same time and understand their oppression, you should speak out about it just as you do your own.
This is what Intersectionality is all about. It is the belief that our oppressions are linked and cannot be solved alone. It is understanding that anyone who is not White, Male, Christian, Wealthy, Young, Able-Bodied and Hetero-Sexual are all being oppressed and have to support each other to get justice and equality.
Unfortunately, those of us who do not fall into all of these groups at the same time fail at this. Instead of supporting each other in our efforts at justice and equality, we compete with and undermine each other. And when the person combines Whiteness or Maleness with being part of any other group, Supremacy and Patriarchy come into play and insert a Privilege that often supersedes, lessens and clouds any oppression.
I don’t think any group has suffered the consequences of what happens when Privilege clouds oppression more than Black women. Throughout history and in the present day, Black women find ourselves the group that all the others depend on to keep moving efforts toward justice and equality forward. Yet we end up cut out of the accolades and rewards that come with progress and results.
When Women were fighting for the right to vote, Black women were key in organizing efforts — yet we were abandoned near the finish line and the right only granted to White women … When Black people were fighting for civil rights and the act was finally passed in 1964, it was amended shortly after to include gender and religion under unlawful discrimination laws — leading to White women and Christians as the greatest recipients of protections and progress.
The list goes on … Equal pay. The 2016 Election. The 2017 Women’s March. #MeToo … Black women on the frontlines of progress. White women reaping the results and leaving us in the dust, sometimes with barely an honorable mention.
The Sis vs The Sisterhood.
White women have shown themselves to have conflict in their loyalties. When faced with a choice between their Gender and their Race, they choose Whiteness over Womanhood.
This makes it difficult to feel confident in collaborating. This makes it difficult to feel comfortable in confiding. This makes it difficult to feel civil in challenging conversations.
If we are not being intersectional in our efforts toward equality and justice for people who are not members of power groups, we are failing in our efforts. Every time we use the little bit of privilege we have to advance our cause without helping those with less or no privilege, we are failing in our efforts and undermining progress.
We don’t get to call ourselves progressive as Women but not fight for the rights and speak out against injustices against People of Color. We cannot be progressive Christians and allow Islamophobia in our midst. We cannot support affordable healthcare for all but be unwilling accommodate people with Physical or Mental Handicaps. We cannot advocate for reproductive choice but keep silent on Homophobia and Transphobia.
Don’t let your Privilege in one area allow you to actively oppress someone in another area. Don’t abandon other oppressed people and keep all gains for yourself. Don’t label other oppressed people as angry or unworthy due to your lack of understanding of their issue and it’s connection to yours.
We either lift as we climb or we all fall.
We must be intersectional or we must sit down and shut up.
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