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Intersectionality & Anti-Oppression

Racism Free Ontario Forum: Mar. 21st, OISE, Toronto, Canada Created by Kim Crosby

Kim Katrin Milan

on 23 September 2015

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Transcript of Intersectionality & Anti-Oppression

Systems of Advantage include discrimination, stereotypes, prejudice but most importantly, the power and the privilege required to maintain, perpetuate and establish itself through force and definition and domination.

Systems Of Advantage vs.
Intersectionality Of Oppression
"The system isn't broken, it was built that way."
There is no purity. There are different experiences and intersectionality of oppression and privilege all layered overtop of each other and can be manifested differently depending on context.

These are the social and political constructions that define social location and these systems are the foundation upon which our economy is based on. As it determines who gets what and in what quantity. They serve a very clear purpose and they are always intentional.

Prejudice is an irrational feeling of dislike for a person or group of persons, usually based on stereotype. Virtually everyone feels some sort of prejudice, whether it’s for an ethnic group, or for a religious group, or for a type of person like blondes or fat people or tall people. The important thing is they just don’t like them — in short, prejudice is a feeling, a belief. You can be prejudiced, but still be a fair person if you’re careful not to act on your irrational dislike.

Discrimination takes place the moment a person acts on prejudice. This describes those moments when one individual decides not to give another individual a job because of, say, their race or their religious orientation. Or even because of their looks (there’s a lot of hiring discrimination against “unattractive” women, for example). You can discriminate, individually, against any person or group, if you’re in a position of power over the person you want to discriminate against. White people can discriminate against black people, and black people can discriminate against white people.
Goals & Accountability
Terms & definitions
Characteristics of systems of advantage
Illuminating intersectionality
Naming resistance
Educating our communities

Speak only as the expert of your own experience
Only use derogatory terms that have been used to attack you
We are all author's of our own experience
"May we continue to disagree, may we continue to distinguish our movements by their bases of accountability, may we continue to give different accounts of how we got here and where we are, and may we collaborate but never compromise our visions of where we ought to be."
- Alexis Pauline Gumbs
Stereotypes are generalizations about a group of people whereby we attribute a defined set of characteristics to this group
An unacknowledged system of favoritism and advantage granted to people as the beneficiaries of historical conquest, colonization and genocide. Benefits include preferential treatment, exemption from group oppression and immunity from perpetuating social inequity.

"Women are discriminated against because of the negative meaning given to their gender. It is not our gender or skin color that we have to change, but systems of oppression that benefit some groups at the expense of others. This whole process is what William Ryan calls "blaming the victim." It is an ideological process that justifies inequality by finding defects in the victims of inequality. The logical outcome of analyzing social problems in terms of the deficiencies of the victim is a simple formula for action: Change the victim!"

We cannot blame the most vulnerable bodies in the system, we must condemn the system. It is not the fault of young black men that they look 'suspicious', they never had a chance in a system that defines Blackness as 'suspicious, dark evil'. Did you know that Black used to refer to life because it was the colour of soil and white used to refer to death because it was the colour of bones? We are not deficient, we are whole. The system isn't broken, it was designed this way.
Breaking Down Anti-Oppression
What are assumptions that people make about you?
Break into small groups and describe the strategies and activities that Urban Arts has used to approach this system of advantage. Also describe any barriers or challenges to engaging with this issue personally and organizationally.
Strategies & Activities
Barriers & Challeges
(cc) image by anemoneprojectors on Flickr
Whiteness is a racial identity created by upper class colonialists to distinguigh themselves from indentured servants and slaves. A guarantee against being enslaved.
Colonization is the violent taking of land, wealth and labour of indigineous peoples through domination & conquest leading to their extermination in some cases & Trans-Atlantic slave trade which created a underclass based on race and gender that persists today.
Privilege is an unacknowledged system of favouritism and advantage granted to white, male, able - bodied, straight, cis gender as the beneficiaries of historical conquest. Benefits include preferential treatment, exemption from group oppression and immunity from perpetuating social inequity.
Systems combine social power, institutional power (policies & practices), cultural messages, and individual actions.
Can you name any other systems or structures that may also have a profound impact on expressions, and understandings around Sex, Gender Role, Sexual Orientation, or Gender Identity?

Race; a masculine of centre Black person might identify as a stud versus a butch.
Age; a little girl who is showing ‘masculine’ traits under the age of twelve may simply be regarded as a ‘tomboy’ and not have her gender policed in the same way as she would post 12 or during puberty.
Ability; a differently abled descriptively femme person may not be able to physically access some of the social markers of ‘femininity


I can be late to a meeting without having the lateness reflect on my race.

I can easily buy posters, post-cards, picture books, greeting cards, dolls, toys and children’s magazines featuring people of my race.

I can remain oblivious of the language and customs of persons of color who constitute the world’s majority without feeling in my culture any penalty for such oblivion.

If I declare there is a racial issue at hand, or there isn’t a racial issue at hand, my race will lend me more credibility for either position than a person of color will have.

White Privilege
Cis Male Privilege (MAAB)

If I do the same task as a woman, and if the measurement is at all subjective, chances are people will think I did a better job.

If I choose not to have children, my masculinity will not be called into question.

My elected representatives are mostly people of my own sex. The more prestigious and powerful the elected position, the more this is true.

Heterosexual Privilege
I can be pretty sure that my roommates, hall-mates and classmates will be comfortable with my sexual orientation.
If I pick up a magazine, watch TV, or play music, I can be certain my sexual orientation will be represented.
I do not have to fear that if my family or friends find out about my sexual orientation there will be economic, emotional, physical or psychological consequences.

Individually take 10 minutes to add to this list, focusing on experiences on privilege based on your context. Feel free to include other experiences of privilege including ability, class, religion. Collectively we will share some responses or questions that come up in the group.

During a conversation about homophobia, a student of colour makes the comment that ‘all Jamaicans are homophobic’.

A fellow facilitator supporting you in programming where it has been really difficult to get support makes a transphobic comment.

A Muslim student asks for advice on how to talk to their parents about coming out.

You don't feel comfortable with talking about sexuality and homophobia, but your participants are making homophobic comments in programming.

Case Studies
The moment we choose to love we begin to move against domination, against oppression. The moment we choose to love we begin to move towards freedom, to act in ways that liberate ourselves and others. That action is the testimony of love as the practice of freedom.

- bell hooks
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