Blog | Intercultural Development | Centre For Excellence

Unravelling Intersectionality

  • inclusion communique

This term's Inclusion Communique blog focuses on intersectionality and the impact it has on our daily lives

 Inclusion Communiqué is a series of posts providing context to diversity and inclusion-focused terminology. Content is drawn from academics and professionals in the field, with an emphasis on contextualizing terms and the narratives that surround them, rather than solely providing a limited definition. Inclusion Communiqué is meant to generate conversations on topics in the area of intercultural competence, encouraging critical analysis and thoughtful debate on the use of language and social constructs that guide our everyday lives.

At the heart of diversity and inclusion work lies the concept of intersectionality.  What is intersectionality?   “Intersectionality is a framework designed to explore the dynamic between co-existing identities (e.g. woman, Black) and connected systems of oppression (e.g. patriarchy, white supremacy)” (Claire, 2016).  The term was created by lawyer and law professor, Kimberle Crenshaw.   Crenshaw sought to explain how feminist movements were not capturing, advocating, and seeking to change realities of all women, as feminism was not reflecting these diverse realities.  The realities of white women versus black women were vastly different by virtue of their intersecting identities. 

The concept of intersectionality is so effective in applying to various combinations of identities, that it has expanded beyond the realm of feminist theory, and is a motivating factor influencing inclusionary policies through institutions and governments.  Intersectionality can explain how we can simultaneously experience systems of oppression and privilege.  For example, an able-bodied, cis and passing individual may belong to a marginalized socio-economic status, and find social upward mobility challenging and barriered. 

In addition, intersectionality can uncover and give context to both conscious and unconscious biases that we can be conditioned to believe.  In a global community embedded in a colonial past, societal myths exoticizing and marginalizing groups can impede genuine and complex understanding of individuals, identities, and even entire regions of the world.  These images embedded in entertainment, social media, marketing, and even history books create flattened two-dimensional versions of people and communities and limit people to singular and isolated categories. 

The heavily academic nature of intersectionality, despite its real word application in our daily and personal lives, can still conceptually feel foreign to individuals.  Begin by exploring this video to learn more about the concept.  In March, the IC will be exploring intersectionality through art mediums, to create personal resonance and tangibility to the idea, during IC Week 2019, March 4th – 8th.  New to IC Week?  Take a look at past year’s events.   Be sure to stay tuned to the blog for registration details on this, and other events.  

Reference:

Heuchan, C. (2016). Intersectionality – a Definition, History, and Guide. Retrieved January 17, 2019, from https://sisteroutrider.wordpress.com/2016/07/27/intersectionality-a-definition-history-and-guide/

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