Independence Takes Intersectionality

The 4th of July is usually tied to the imagery of freedom, the great melting pot, and the American Dream. But historically, it was not a date in which all people were free (check out out our Juneteenth post for more info). To attain true freedom, inclusion, and economic opportunity, our country must take a firm stance against injustice. 

In the spirit of celebrating our country, let’s understand our citizens and how their many identities define their experience in the USA. Kimberlé Crenshaw, a professor at Columbia Law School, used term intersectionality to describe how race, class, gender, and other individual characteristics “intersect”. This has an impact on American society, legal culture, and power systems because discrimination is rarely single-issue (just race, just gender, just sexual orientation, etc.)  This requires “Efforts to fight racism would require examining other forms of prejudice (like anti-Semitism, for example); efforts to eliminate gender disparities would require examining how women of color experience gender bias differently from white women (and how nonwhite men do too, compared to white men).” said… at  Vox

What does intersectionality look like?

  • Speaking out about racial injustice, especially when the victims are black individuals who are also women, LGBTQ, people with disabilities, or low-income. These factors often compound discrimination, and rarely get the same amount of media and public attention.
    • #sayhername
  • Realizing that this summer, the Supreme Court ruled that civil rights law protects gay and transgender workers from workplace discrimination, and it wasn’t until 2015 that same-sex marriage was legal.
    • #pridemonth
  • Understanding that black communities that are in low-income zip codes are both more vulnerable to COVID-19 and more likely to be essential workers. 

What can businesses do?

  • Create a culture of inclusion that allows employees to bring all of themselves to work.
  • Push for equal pay and leadership representation, and hold yourself accountable to the your company’s data! 
  • Celebrate holidays like Pride month, Juneteenth, non-christian religious holidays. Take it as an opportunity to learn about another person’s identity or culture.
  • Protect everyone in your Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion statement. One easy way to do this is by researching Equal Employment Opportunity classifications. 
  • Become a learning organization by participating in training, readings, and workshops.  

Learn more Intersectionality:

  • Race to the Bottom
  • Demarginalizing the Intersection of Race and Sex: A Black Feminist Critique of Antidiscrimination Doctrine, Feminist Theory and Antiracist Politics
  • The Effect of Intersectionality in the Workplace