Prior to writing this piece, I wrote a piece on #LivingWhileBlack. Although this is a very important topic, I changed my mind to start my blog by discussing the importance of intersectionality because it is often overlooked or simply unknown.
Kimberlé Crenshaw - a law professor, a leading scholar in race theory, and overall an awesome black woman - coined the term “intersectionality” as an analytic term to understand how systems of power oppress simultaneous identities in race, gender, class, sexual orientation, physical ability, etc. This term is imperative in discerning the complexity of systems of oppression and identity.
Firstly, I want to address the origins of “intersectionality” because it is important to acknowledge black women’s scholarship. Black women’s forms of expression are hardly credited, even though it is the foundation for many aspects of particularly western society (i.e. Cultural appropriation).
Secondly, I think society often compartmentalizes identity, which forces people to choose to embrace only certain parts of themselves. As a young black woman, I often feel like I have to choose either supporting my blackness or my womanhood. Historically, many black liberation groups and women’s liberation groups excluded the voices and struggles of black women in the sake of “unity” and “solidarity” on the basis of skin color or gender. Black womanhood is a multi-dimensional journey that requires unique support. Personally, I have not only found tangible support in the form of family and friends but also in the form of black feminism.
Black feminism is more than just a movement in response to oppression against black women. It is a powerful, assertive acknowledgement of one’s whole being. It teaches me to honor differences in humanity and the importance of learning. It also forces me to reflect on how my actions (verbal, physical, educational, financial, etc.) participate in the oppression of others.
In Holton’s all-girls environment, we confer about the struggles of being a woman in a misogynist society, but we often overlook the intricacies of inhabiting multiple marginalized identities. In conclusion, I plan to use this platform to promote inclusivity and to center the once silenced voices.