If you spend any amount of time reading about social justice issues on or offline, I would be willing to bet cold hard cash that you’ve encountered the term “intersectionality.” People calling for more of it, calling for none of it, debating its existence, flopping around while shouting “BUT WHAT DOES IT MEAN??”
Maybe I’m alone on that last part?
The short answer is, intersectionality is “the oppression and discrimination resulting from the overlap of an individual’s various social identities:”
Before we dive in I want to make an important caveat. I am approaching this discussion from my own privilege as a middle-class American white woman. I am primarily speaking to other white women. Women of color don’t need me to explain intersectionality to them, they live it every day. I’m not an expert. I just firmly believe that it’s our responsibility to educate ourselves and not place that burden on our sisters of color, so I’m sharing the love.
I could not believe my eyes when I sat on my bed, on a typical Saturday morning in Charlottesville, scrolling through my newsfeed on Facebook.
All that I saw were videos of protesters, carrying torches and marching in a line, down the lawn of the University of Virginia, my university, in the dead of night.
I knew that the Unite the Right white supremacist rally was going to take place in Emancipation Park later in the day, but I had no idea that this evil would be marching less than one mile away from my apartment in the dead of night.
I had no idea that this evil would be marching less than one mile away from my apartment in the dead of night.
The next twenty-four hours were spent on lockdown alone in my apartment, with my eyes glued to a livestream of the news on my laptop while all of Virginia was in a state of emergency. A white supremacy rally had turned into large scale riots, violence had out-broken between the supremacists and protesters, policemen were struggling to clear the crowd, and a car was driven by a white supremacist down a crowded street, killing a woman and injuring others. The places where I had the past three years laughing with my friends was full of carnage, evil, and terrorism.
The following day I walked straight into my university parish and asked the chaplain, “What happened and what now?”