Intersectionality: Your First Steps to Understanding

By | January 21, 2017

“Intersectionality” is a long word, and looks complex, and perhaps annoys people.

“Don’t make it hard for me to live,” is how it comes out when they ask for explanations. “Make it consumable to me, and not threatening, and make sure I stay in the center.”

Well, here is an explanation that is as simple as I can make it.

“Intersectionality” is this: the rights of women to live as equals to men  is like the rights of black Americans and brown Americans and Native Americans and Asian Americans to live as equals to whites, is like the rights of gay Americans to live as equals to straight Americans, is like the rights of Muslim Americans and Sikh Americans and Jewish Americans and Buddhist Americans (and others) to live as equals with Christian Americans, is like disabled Americans to live as equals with able Americans, is like

Not the same, but like.

“Like” in the sense that the literal struggle to be seen as human with equal, enjoyable civil rights as anyone else, not treated as “special” or “other” or “weird, but warily trusted.”

Women marching for justice are not saying “nothing else matters.” They are saying “These things matter. We are treated as second-class citizens by men in power. That needs to stop. We need to be empowered, equally.”

IT IS LIKE BUT NOT THE SAME as black Americans saying “Black Lives Matter.” Or gay Americans saying “Equal rights are human rights.” Or…

You catch the drift.

The way for these movements to succeed is to work together intersectionally, with common themes supported by everyone, AND with room for their own goals that extend their own access to universal civil rights.

And the way these groups are opposed and threatened by dissolution is when opponents attempt to stir up trouble and turn these groups who have so much in common into enemies of each other rather than as allies.

I’m a white male straight Christian American.

I am threatened by none of these movements, and I welcome them because I know we will be stronger, more diverse, more inclusive, more loving, more just, and simply happier society if we can drop the pretense that people like me need to be the people in charge of what’s right and good and fair.

We are not better if we restrict access to American power and American life to those who look white and act white. We are oppressing our fellow brothers and sisters.

And white straight Christian men should be confident that a multicultural, multifaceted, multiracial, multibelieving America will be a stronger America where everyone gets their fair chance to succeed, be happy, and enjoy free access to all their inalienable civil rights.

To be clear—I am not a teacher on intersectionality nor am I an expert. If you have questions or need more information, please check other sources. This is what I’m learning, and is how I see it, right now. I will likely clarify my thoughts the more I learn.

But for me this is how I put the pieces together. Allies, not antagonists.

I hope this helps