When pushing for social change in our communities, it is important to consider intersectionality: the fact that people live at the intersection of different axes of identity (for example: gender, race and social class… to name only three!). The term intersectionality was first coined by Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw, a civil rights advocate and scholar at the forefront of critical race theory and executive director of the think-tank called the African American Policy Forum. She deserves more credit for this term and her work.
But the term intersectionality can also be a double-edged sword, especially when it is used as a catch-all to gloss over the specific issues that are faced by Black people in the US today. This post on Everyday Feminism about 5 Signs Your Idea of ‘Intersectionality’ Is Anti-Black Racism In Disguise is an important touch stone to hold oneself accountable. While solidarity among groups is important, pushing the notion that “we are all in this together”, while ignoring the specific experiences of Black people in the US, is a dangerous and slippery slope. This aspect is especially true when messages of solidarity are combined with highlighting the painful experiences of Black people, often with gratuitous images of (dead) Black bodies under the guise of “getting others to witness the humanity of marginalized people”.
One way to get involved and fight the “white-focus” of some issues is to find organizations that support Black people at the intersections of identities. Here are some example organizations you could support, as well as resources for more ideas and great organizations:
- The Night Ministry is an organization that provides housing, healthcare and support for youth struggling with homelessness in Chicago.
- Evolution Atlanta is an organization which works to support Black gay men in Atlanta.
- BGD in Philadelphia provide a resource for how you might help Trans* women of Color in Philadelphia right now.
- Black, Disabled and Proud also has a list of resources, so you can find out ways to support local services in your area.
Today’s action: think of how your support of issues (eg. LGBTQ rights) is influenced by race. Seek out Black voices on these issues you care about and make sure that you are reading/learning from them, rather than wishing they focused on one issue.