A friend asked me recently if my being mixed had any effect on my views of feminism and what I thought was important with the movement. It took me a moment to answer, but overall I had to give the answer of “yes”. Not only has my skin tone changed my experience of life, but it also has influenced my attachment to feminism. It has made me see the importance of intersectionality which is the idea that forms of oppression consistently intersect each other. A woman who is black has to deal with not just the sexism within society, but also with the racism that is rampant as well; the two are inexplicably connected to each other. To accept oppression in one form is to accept oppression in another you cannot be against racism but allow sexism to stand, to do that would mean that you did not care about the life of any black woman. Well, I guess you could, but then you’re just being a huge jerk…and nobody likes jerks.
Anyway, I found this great article that discusses intersectionality and shows how important it is to understand this topic. When we understand how one system of oppression works and the ways we can dismantle it then we can use those tools to help dismantle other forms. What we seem too often to forget is that people do not easily fall into these tiny little boxes that we try and push them into, we are all simultaneously parts of the boxes and none of the boxes. We are people first and black/white, male/female and gay/straight second. However, because of the society in which we live we see the latter first as the most important and the idea that we are people as second rate. Intersectionality reminds us that we are people with a multitude of characteristics each connected to each other; it reminds us that we must fight against oppression in all its forms for the betterment of society.