The word has been around since the 1980s, which makes sense, considering all the movements and issues brought to light at the time and in the years prior. Yet, many people tend to give a watered-down version of how intersectionality works. Many tend to use it as a way to list the various aspects of their identity. They tend to use intersectionality to define how they deviate from the norm, or how many more struggles they face because of the various aspects of themselves that are not "white, cis-gendered, straight, rich, and male".
And although this is some small factor in what intersectionality is, that’s not all there is to it. My English class discussed this topic while focusing on LGBTQ+ literature and we examined how intersectionality plays a role in how our identities intersect and the way institutions create this intersection, to the point that we can't recognize where the oppression or privilege one may have is wc coming from. For example, I face mental health issues, and it's difficult to understand whether that is due to my Hispanic or bisexual identities. When someone pushes me in the street and says something derogatory, is it due to my being a woman or a person of color? Does that stranger somehow know my sexuality and oppresses me for that? Or does the stranger even know why they said what they did?
It brings me to a point where I realize that there are moments when one part of my identity connects with another part of my identity, and I find myself at a crossroads of multiple oppressions.With intersectionality, we finally have a word to describe what this phenomena is and we use it to further attempt to reconstruct the system at large that oppresses who we are.
A myth that is often also expressed is that white people don't struggle. Now, listen carefully. I am well aware that we live in a country where if you are not a white, straight, cisgender. older, financially stable, able-bodied man, you will receive a form of oppression and struggle. This is a fact. And intersectionality also includes the struggle of privilege. Many might read that sentence as an oxymoron. How can someone be privileged and struggle? Those who fit the category above, they have the privilege of silence. And that is also a struggle. Many want to help, want to speak up, but fear they will continue taking away those voices being silenced as it is. Being silent is a privilege only few can have and also a burden, because sometimes these people want to truly help as best they can.
Intersectionality is a difficult concept, but one that needs to be explained and taught because it affects every single one of us. Hopefully, I could explain this term as clearly as possible, but here are some other articles. This country was built on a system of oppression and privilege, and the only way to deconstruct this system is recognize all the aspects involved in the creation of it.
For more info about SWAG, please visit our website: SWAG To College
If you or anyone you know are interested in being a mentor, click here: Become a Mentor
If you or anyone you know is interested in becoming a mentee, click here: Become a Mentee