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JlMC 477 Intersectionality

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Joel Geske

on 30 June 2015

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Transcript of JlMC 477 Intersectionality

The word “intersectionality” comes
from of a metaphor coined by the
legal scholar Kimberlé
Williams Crenshaw to explain
how race oppression and gender
oppression interact in black
women’s lives.
Intersectionality
Crenshaw
Consider an analogy to traffic in an intersection, coming and going in all four
directions. Discrimination,
like traffic through an
intersection, may flow in
one direction, and it may
flow in another.

If an accident happens in an intersection, it can be caused by cars traveling from any number of directions and, sometimes, from all of them.
Similarly, if a black woman is discriminated against because she is in an "intersection" of race and gender, her injury could result from sex discrimination or race discrimination…

But it is not always easy to reconstruct an accident. Sometimes the skid marks and the injuries simply indicate that they occurred simultaneously, frustrating efforts to determine which caused the harm (Kimberlé
Williams Crenshaw, 1989.)
Intersections are Complex
As we know, there are many areas
of power. Race, gender, socio-
economic class, sexuality, ableness,
religion and other factors can all
affect how one is perceived and
treated in the media and in the world at large. Since we are dealing with people, each with individual stories, the intersections can become much more complicated and winding.
A Concrete Example
In the 1980s, Crenshaw was trying to understand why American anti-discrimination law failed to protect black women in the workplace, and she discovered it was because the law distinguished between two kinds of discrimination: gendered discrimination and racialized discrimination.

That is, U.S. law distinguished between discrimination against women (on the basis of their gender) and discrimination against black, Latino, Asian, and indigenous people (on the basis of their race).

But in her study of discrimination in workplaces, Crenshaw observed that black women were discriminated against on both bases—their gender and their race—at once.
For example, black women
were the last group to be hired
at a workplace she studied—after
white women and black men.

When the boss decided to lay
people off, black women were
fired because they were the least
senior—the last to arrive. But that they were hired last was itself due to discrimination. This group of black women took the company to court and the judge said, “There’s no gender discrimination here because white women weren’t fired. And there’s no race discrimination here because black men weren’t fired.”

Crenshaw concluded that discrimination against black women in the workplace, as black women, was invisible to legal concepts of discrimination that saw it in terms of “gender” only or in terms of “race” only. Black women’s experiences of discrimination were rendered invisible by these ways of categorizing discriminatory practices.
Now, add another
layer of being, such as
gay or lesbian...
or older, or a particular religion...
and remember
Even within cultures there are
subcultures and more subcultures
A different model of diversity
This model says we have core attributes (internal dimensions) that
we can't change. As Lady Gaga would say, "Baby you were born that way..."
Next we have external dimensions that we do have more control over. Together they lead to personality or our core being.
Since each person has a variety of dimensions, each is uniquely individual.
Iowa State University is a diverse community of people of all genders, ages, cultures, races, religions, sexual orientations, socio-economic backgrounds, and abilities.

Iowa State celebrates and advances diversity by creating a safe place in which people can express themselves freely and share their unique talents. This diversity of talents enriches our campus by fueling creativity, innovation, and success.

Diversity encompasses acceptance and respect by fostering an environment of inclusion that moves beyond simple tolerance to recognizing the richness in individual identities of people.

Diversity, therefore, is an active process that requires our continuous dedication to promote the success of present and future generations of students, faculty, and staff.
Reflected in ISU's Diversity Statement
Further Viewing on Intersections:
Jihad for Love
On the Down Low
De Colores
Brother To Brother
Dangerous Living:
Coming out in the developing world
Full transcript