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Intersectionality

Defining intersectionality and its meaning is a challenge for me. The reading I’ve done so far demonstrates that the concept has been expanded, appropriated, and redefined in different contexts and times for different purposes. I can say that my favorite definition so far is that of Rita Kaur Dhamoon’s as cited in Barbara Tomlinson’s “To Tell the Truth and Not Get Trapped: Desire, Distance, and Intersectionality at the Scene of Argument”: intersectionality opens up a space to study the ways various aspects of human identity can combine in unique forms of discrimination.

Relevance

It is relevant because human identity is complex, discrimination is real, and the categories intersectionality identifies each play a part in every individual’s lived experience. I am still exploring the critiques of intersectionality, but they seem to vary in quality and intent. There are some that employ fallacious reasoning to render the theory a straw-man philosophy, and others that attack the character of its proponents. However, the critiques that seem the most credible to me examine the philosophical presuppositions of intersectionality and the current climate of debate concerning the topic.

On One Hand

Personally, I am still trying to process the intellectual and political ramifications of intersectionality. I do not agree with the postmodern, social constructivist belief that reality and society are merely linguistic constructs. I also do not support any system that denies denies critique or honest inquiry and dialogue. I know that prejudice, racism, and discrimination are realities in our country and world. My own mother faced blatant sexism during her time as an administrator in education. These things are not acceptable and do need to be addressed. 

 

On the Other Hand

However, I believe that a quality foundation must be established before just methods can be created, and the foundation of intersectionality is still unclear to me. I want equality, and affirm the value of every human being and the right of every opinion to be heard. The strands of intersectional argument that situate reason, logic, and truth as subjective constructions of self-interested power are concerning for me, along with proponents who wish to deny even the opportunity for critique or debate.

 

Bright Brown Butterfly

I colored this image at the beginning of the course. It speaks to the optimism I have for the problems of racial relations and my hope for women of color: transformation from oppression to freedom.

The quotes come from varied readings and authors: Flossie and the Fox, Audre Lorde, and Toni Morrison. Dr. Kynard encouraged us to engage with theory beyond the typical methods of written text, which was a wildly successful pedagogical tactic.