“The need to split one's political energies between two sometimes opposing groups is a dimension of intersectional disempowerment that men of color and white women seldom confront. Indeed, their specific raced and gendered experiences, although intersectional, often define as well as confine the interests of the entire group. For example, racism as experienced by people of color who are of a particular gender - male - tends to determine the parameters of antiracist strategies, just as sexism as experienced by women who are of a particular race - white - tends to ground the women's movements. The problem is not simply that both discourses fail women of color by not acknowledging the "additional" issue of race of patriarchy but, rather, that the discourses are often inadequate even to the discrete tasks of articulating the full dimensions of racism and sexism. Because women of color experience racism in ways not always the same as those experienced by men of color and sexism in ways not always parallel to experiences of white women, antiracism and feminism are limited, even on their own terms.”—Kimberlé Crenshaw
“The failure of feminism to interrogate race means that the resistance strategies of feminism will often replicate and reinforce the subordination of people of color, and the failure of anti-racism to interrogate patriarchy means that anti-racism will frequently reproduce the subordination of women. These mutual elisions present a particularly difficult political dilemma for women of color. Adopting either analysis constitutes a denial of a fundamental dimension of our subordination and works to precludes the development of a political discourse that more fully empowers women of color.”—
And this is where my political ideology, as a Womanist who embraces Black Feminist Theory and Intersectional Feminism starts because of my own identity; but (as much of her writing alludes to as well, though not in this particular quote) I am also concerned with class, ability, sexual orientation, gender identity/representation and more. I cannot embrace White women’s feminist or Black men’s anti-racist interests if they are not intersectional. I am not interested in any “equality” that requires the oppression of another person, for any particular identity facet.
Good morning! Happy first month of Feminist Summer Book Club!
I hope y’all are as excited as I am! Our first month is on intersectionality and feminism. Our reading list is:
- “Feminism is for Everybody” bell hooks [PDF available here, here, here, and about a hundred different places if you google it]
- “Mapping the Margins: Intersectionality, Identity Politics and Violence Against Women” Kimberle Crenshaw [PDF available online here]
- “Disappearing Acts: Reclaiming Intersectionality in the Social Sciences” Nikol G. Alexander Floyd [available here]
- “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack” Peggy McIntosh [PDF available online here]
I will post discussion questions in our group on Goodreads by the end of the week, and please feel free to start engaging in a discussion there as the month progresses.
If you have thoughts or questions that you want to share throughout the month, please utilize this blog’s submit and ask features (which will be up and running by the end of the day today) to share those with everyone else in the FSBC.
I am so looking forward to doing this with y’all!
“Among the most troubling political consequences of the failure of antiracist and feminist discourses to address the intersections of race and gender is the fact that, to the extent they can forward the interests of “people of color” and “women,” respectively, one analysis often implicitly denies the validity of the other. The failure of feminism to interrogate race means that the resistance strategies of feminism will often replicate and reinforce the subordination of people of color, and the failure of antiracism to interrogate patriarchy means that antiracism will frequently reproduce the subordination of women. These mutual elisions present a particularly difficult political dilemma for women of color. Adopting either analysis constitutes a denial of a fundamental dimension of our subordination and precludes the development of a political discourse that more fully empowers women of color. ”—Kimberlé Crenshaw
“The problem with identity politics is not that it fails to transcend difference, as some critics charge, but rather the opposite- that it frequently conflates or ignores intra group differences. In the context of violence against women, this elision of difference is problematic, fundamentally because the violence that many women experience is often shaped by other dimensions of their identities, such as race and class. Moreover, ignoring differences within groups frequently contributes to tension among groups, another problem of identity politics that frustrates efforts to politicize violence against women.”—Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw in ”Mapping the Margins: Intersectionality, Identity Politics and Violence Against Women of Color” which you can read here
“It grew out of trying to conceptualize the way the law responded to issues where both race and gender discrimination were involved. What happened was like an accident, a collision. Intersectionality simply came from the idea that if you’re standing in the path of multiple forms of exclusion, you are likely to get hit by both. These women are injured, but when the race ambulance and the gender ambulance arrive at the scene, they see these women of color lying in the intersection and they say, “Well, we can’t ﬁgure out if this was just race or just sex discrimination. And unless they can show us which one it was, we can’t help them.”—Crenshaw, Kimberle. 1994. “Intersectionality: The Double Bind of Race and Gender,” Perspectives Magazine of the American Bar Association.
“To say that a category such as race or gender is socially constructed is NOT to say that that category has no significance in our world. On the contrary, a large and continuing project for subordinated people--and indeed, one of the projects for which postmodern theories have been very helpful--is thinking about the way power has clustered around certain categories and is exercised against others. This project attempts to unveil the processes of subordination and the various ways those processes are experienced by people who are subordinated and people who are privileged. It is, then, a project that presumes that categories have meaning and consequences. This project's most pressing problem, in many if not most cases, is not the existence of the categories, but rather the particular values attached to them, and the way those values foster and create social hierarchies. This is not to deny that the process of categorization is itself an exercise of power, but the story is much more complicated and nuanced than that. First, the process of categorizing--or, in identity terms, naming--is not unilateral. Subordinated people can and do participate, sometimes even subverting the naming process in empowering ways. One need only think about the historical subversion of the category 'Black,' or the current transformation of 'queer,' to understand that categorization is not a one-way street. Clearly, there is unequal power, but there is nonetheless some degree of agency that people can and do exert in the politics of naming. And, it is important to note that identity continues to be as site of resistance for members of different subordinated groups. We all can recognize the distinction between the claims 'I am Black' and the claim 'I am a person who happens to be Black.' 'I am Black' takes the socially imposed identity and empowers it as an anchor of subjectivity. 'I am Black' becomes not simply a statement of resistance, but also a positive discourse of self-identification, intimately linked to celebratory statements like the Black nationalist 'Black is beautiful.' 'I am a person who happens to be Black,' on the other hand, achieves self-identification by straining for a certain universality (in effect, 'I am first a person') and for a concomitant dismissal of the imposed category ('Black') as contingent, circumstantial, non-determinant. There is truth in both characterizations, of course, but they function, quite differently depending on the political context. At this point in history, a strong case can be made that the most critical resistance strategy for dis-empowered groups is to occupy and defend a politics of social location rather than to vacate and destroy it.”—
I like this explanation and I agree with her; I prefer acknowledging “Black.” In 2011, Michigan State University published a study that revealed that “Black people who identify more strongly with their racial identity are generally happier. Previous research has found a relationship between racial identity and favorable outcomes such as self-esteem.”
Ignoring such a major part of our identity to “fit in” or to try to be “universal” doesn’t work in a White supremacist society. Further, understanding our history and support from other Black people makes coping in a White supremacist society easier than not. Because…whether a Black person seeks to ignore their Blackness and their culture or not, it’s still there. And doing it for the hopes of White approval is a very dangerous game to play with one’s health and well-being.
“The failure of feminism to interrogate race means that the resistance strategies of feminism will often replicate and reinforce the subordination of people of color, and the failure of anti-racism to interrogate patriarchy means that anti-racism will frequently reproduce the subordination of women. These mutual elisions present a particularly difficult political dilemma for women of color. Adopting either analysis constitutes a denial of a fundamental dimension of our subordination and works to precludes the development of a political discourse that more fully empowers women of color." ”—Kimberle Crenshaw
today is the day i get to see kimberle crenshaw talk, weee!!!
i feel bad because when i woke up i was hoping for school cancellation cause of the snow lol. i just haven’t been wanting to go anywhere or do much of anything lately. but school is still on. so i have my masters proseminar, and then an hour between that and a meeting with my advisor. and then if that meeting lasts about a half hour, i have another hour and a half of waiting before the session starts. i’m going to try and read and get some writing done. i’m gonna dress cute too, cause i wanna. gonna take a shower, do a little makeup, bundle up. i have an outfit planned. grey sweater tights, brown boots, a blue skirt with a belt (high waisted) and a blue shirt. i gotta wear a coat too, it’s cold and the snow stopped, it’s raining now, but still.
to be honest, i hate having to wait places for awhile with no damn money and not at my own house. maybe i can try and eat before i leave. i have two little papers to write for tomorrow, so i can start on that. use the library i guess. hopefully the computers don’t suck lol. anyways, yea. i’m still excited and reading a bit of her writing before. but i’m sad i can’t find my black feminist thought book by phc. i’mma keep looking.
“Juridical decisions which premise intersectional relief on a showing that Black women are specifically recognized as a class are analogous to a doctor's decision at the scene of an accident to treat an accident victim only if the injury is recognized by medical insurance. Similarly, providing legal relief only when Black women show that their claims are based on race or on sex is analogous to calling an ambulance for the victim only after the driver responsible for the injuries is identified. But it is not always easy to reconstruct an accident: Sometimes the skid marks and the injuries simply indicate that they occurred simultaneously, frustrating efforts to determine which driver caused the harm. In these cases the tendency seems to be that no driver is held responsible, no treatment is administered, and the involved parties simply get back in their cars and zoom away.”—“Demarginalizing the Intersection of Race and Sex: A Black Feminist Critique of Antidiscrimination Doctrine, Feminist Theory and Antiracist Politics”, Kimberle Crenshaw
“Our view [is] that intersectionality is best framed as an analytic sensibility. If intersectionality is an analytic disposition, a way of thinking about and conducting analyses, then what makes an analysis intersectional is not its use of the term “intersectionality,” nor its being situated in a familiar genealogy, nor its drawing on lists of standard citations. Rather, what makes an analysis intersectional—whatever terms it deploys, whatever its iteration, whatever its field or discipline—is its adoption of an intersectional way of thinking about the problem of sameness and difference and its relation to power. This framing—conceiving of categories not as distinct but as always permeated by other categories, fluid and changing, always in the process of creating and being created by dynamics of power—emphasizes what intersectionality does rather than what intersectionality is.”—Sumi Cho, Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw, and Leslie McCall, “Toward a Field of Intersectionality Studies: Theory, Applications, and Praxis,” Signs 38, no. 4.
“So then I ask, what kind of ally are you? Are you a 'me first' kind of ally, you can come along on the ride, but with a caveat that 'I gotta get there first?' Are you a 'be just like me' ally? 'I'll stand with you as long as you make yourself knowable to me in my terms. Let's talk about gender, about women, but don't complicate it with that other stuff. It takes me out of my comfort zone.' Are you a Bette Davis Diva kind of ally: 'If I can't get what I want, then nobody does. I've got it worst so it's my way or the highway.' Are you the nice liberal ally--even though you're not directly affected you'll go along with the 'We Are The World' approach until it gets to costly? Or are you a Dependent Ally: Whether or not you'll stand up for the issue DEPENDS on who is watching. In the march or at the rally you're hard to the core, but at the cocktail party or in the boardroom your resolve to speak that truth to power suddenly evaporates. Are you a 'yes I'll get to you after we save the gorillas, the whales, and innocent puppies' ally like the ones in the Congo who negotiated with soldiers there not to kill the gorillas, but forgot to mention the women? These are allies with riders, with caveats, with limits. I am here to say we don't need these kinds of allies. We need allies firmly planted in the intersections...intersectionality requires you to be a different kind of ally, one that will go to the mat, one that will give you a ride not only to your destination but all the way to her destination, one that will seek power not to exercise it for your own ends, but for the ends of women and disempowered people all over the world. ”—
Kimberlé Crenshaw, What Kind of Ally Are You?
I was reminded of this today because of the equality facebook photos that are being shared all over the internet, which I don’t necessarily think is a bad thing, but it’s important to think about what kind of ally you are to marginalized groups, and important to look at what’s needed.