The urgency of intersectionality

In this TED talk, “Kimberlé Crenshaw uses the term “intersectionality” to describe this phenomenon; as she says, if you’re standing in the path of multiple forms of exclusion, you’re likely to get hit by both. In this moving talk, she calls on us to bear witness to this reality and speak up for victims of prejudice.”

Deniz Ortactepe

6 Responses to “The urgency of intersectionality

  • keyue Song
    2 months ago

    I have learned this term before in courses relating to gender and race, including the anti-racism course required by MIIS this semester. In that course, we also watched a video about Kimberlé Crenshaw on intersectionality, however, this TED talk, with the examples and images of the victims, is more touching and impressive. I have read about a debate in China’s web reality TV on “whether we should ‘come out (in Chinese, the term literally means coming out of the closet, following the implication of skeleton in the closet in English)’ to our parents”, and one of the viewpoints was very impressive: when we talk about the queer people, what we can think about are celebrities such as Tim Cook, but do we have to be as successful as the CEO of Apple before we can safely come out? It is the closet that should disappear (or in the English context, it is the skeleton that should diminish from our mind). It is also an enforcement of heteronormality when we commonly read narratives about a person who is “queer but so nice, so well-educated, so kind, or so talented”. We never talk about someone who is “heterosexual and cisgender but so nice, so well-educated, so kind, and so talented”.

    Ignorance of intersectionality can also bring extra obstacles to social changes for the Global South cultures and people of color by “othering” the social movements or ideas towards social justice. For example, I have heard and read about the queer groups criticizing homophobia as something “originated from the western Christine culture”, raising examples that in ancient China, having a homosexual relationship is common among aristocrats, while at the same time, I have also heard the homophobia people in China criticizing homosexuality as “a bad habit blindly following the west”, as most homosexual examples they know are the Americans or Europeans. By lacking intersectionality, social movements can be otherred and stigmatized as some sorts of “cultural invasion”, despite its social justice longings in essence.

  • Maya Sykes
    2 months ago

    I have watched this video in the past. This TEDtalk made me reflect on my past knowledge of the Black women listed in the beginning of the video. I did not know who they were and what they were involved in. Rewatching the video, I thought about the Black women killed over the first quarter of the year. I remeber Breonna Taylor’s murder was not prioritized by the media and American community, Black or not, until the murder of George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter (BLM) protests. Kimberlé Crenshaw explanation of gender and race intersection and not having a name for a problem that needs to be dealt with resonated with me because of the current situation in the U.S. From their talk, I understand now that the law and individuals view matters one-sidedly. I gather from the talk that precision is missing from issues that are not “black” or “white”. Crenshaw explains, “social dynamics come together to create challenges that are unique”. In theory, this explanation is easy to understand. However, in the moment or heat of the dispute, I wonder how to pinpoint the unique challenge or if it is possible in the moment. Lastly, when discussing the unique challenges Black women face with police brutality and lack of coverage and outcry, I am reminded of a conversation I witnessed in high school where one party expressed it was Sandra Bland’s fault for dying because she did not speak in a respectful tone to the officer. It made me think about stereotypes of Black women and cautious of how others might view myself. Especially the talking loudly part Crenshaw mentioned in the video. In the end, there has not been much change from this video’s release to now.

  • Miranda Doremus- Reznor
    2 months ago

    This speech was deeply moving. I didn’t know any of the names of black women killed by police. Before Breonna Taylor, this was a blind spot for me. I had no frame from which to see these women.
    I was deeply struck by Crenshaw’s words: “Without frames that allow us to see how social problems impact all the members of a targeted group, many will fall through the cracks of our movements, left to suffer in virtual isolation.”
    I’ve had many conversations with people about the importance of having labels. Not to put people in boxes, but because having a place where you see yourself, where you can identify is important for one’s sense of self and identity.

  • Rebecca Jot
    4 weeks ago

    It was disheartening to hear that the “Say Her Name” campaign was launched in 2014. I first hear about it this past summer when Breonna Taylor’s life was taken. I feel bizarrely thankful that confinement has put a spotlight on the anti-blackness and systemic racism surrounding us.

  • Oliver Block
    4 weeks ago

    I have to admit that I had heard of many of the male victims Kimberle mentions in the beginning of her talk and none of the female victims. It brings awareness to what news gets reported and why. There are gatekeepers who make these decisions about which stories to tell and how to tell them. That she was able to make a clear connection to what ultimately she coined as ‘intersectionality’ was equally educational for me. However, I was disheartened to see that the audience appeared to be 100% female. Kimberle had no control over the audience but it reminded me of the saying “preaching to the choir.”

  • Joshua Nesmith
    3 weeks ago

    When Kimberle was mentioning the names at the beginning of the TED Talk, unfortunately I was unaware of any of these names. However, when police brutality arises within the news, many times it is only centered around men. There is not much attention focused on women and police brutality and in order to create better intersectionality this is one area that should be increased in awareness and education. Intersectionality is a very complicated and complex framework as so many variables are changing within and many of these variables co-interact with one another. The more focus spent on intersectionality, a greater understanding of the issues at hand will hopefully be able to be obtained.

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