For me, the true spirit of diversity and inclusion is and will be incomplete without practically implementing the concept of Intersectionality. For embracing the diversity and socially welcoming people irrespective of their color, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or religious practices, all the complex overlapping areas of discrimination and biasedness must be considered.
For diversity and inclusion to be implemented impactfully, I feel like we really need to understand the term“ Intersectionality.”
For creating sustainable, inclusive communities, all members of society must be able to enjoy fundamental human rights. They are treated equally before the law. They are given equal chances of participation in civic, social, economic, and political activities and they must have the same privileges that make navigating social systems and institutions (i.e. school, housing, financial, medical, legal, and law enforcement).
All our (D & I) initiatives will be effective when it is done through the path of Intersectionality. All the complex overlapping inequities can be eliminated through the lens of Intersectionality.
So What exactly is Intersectionality & Why Is It Important?
We all know that we face discrimination in a society based on several factors like race, gender, sex, culture, and other factors but what happens when a person must suffer from discrimination simultaneously in multiple forms. But what happens in the case when we have overlapping areas of discrimination. “Multiple different areas of potential discrimination overlap with one another and exist alongside one another.”
Example: A black LGBT man or woman usually deal with homophobia. A black man or woman usually deal with racism. But a black LGBT man or woman will have to deal with homophobia and racism (often at the same time) source Equality-Network
As you can see, this happens, and we must acknowledge that there are individuals who are part of our society who have specific characteristics, situations that make them experience discrimination in many different areas.
Intersectionality is not a new concept!
The word “ Intersectionality” was first spoken by scholar and civil rights advocate “Kimberle Crenshaw” back in 1989. Being a student of law, Crenshaw closely observed that gender and race were seen as entirely different issues. Analyzing them in isolation to each other made no sense to Crenshaw. She realized that women of color are discriminated against both based on gender and color. They are facing the double impact of discrimination. This theory by Crenshaw emerged two decades ago when the Black feminists started to raise their voice about privileged white, middle-class nature of the feminist movement at that time. Many Black women found it hard to relate to the issues represented by the mainstream(white) feminist movement — problems like the pressure to be a homemaker. When black women usually had to earn for themselves and their families. They couldn’t find the issues represent their everyday problems or real-life experiences in life.
If you would like to learn more read Mapping The Margins
Intersectionality is more than “Women first.”
The generalized “Women first” and all the other feminist movements for the sake of equal rights are not the answer to the problems faced by many women. On the whole, It may seem adequate for representing women as one gender and solving all the inequalities faced at home or workplace. But this is not the case. For example, according to several research and data, women in the US earn almost 72 cents, when a man having the same job and capabilities earn 1 dollar. But this is not the whole story. This is what a white woman makes. When it comes to black women, Latins, and native American women, this wage gap grows wider and wider. Check out this publication by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research
Yet we all know Equality Earnings Will Reduce Poverty and Improve Economic Security for Women and their Families
One thing that makes me sometimes uncomfortable is the fact that a lot of people still to this day deny the fact “white privilege.” really does exist despite the data am hundreds of voices telling the same tale.
I truly believe that despite all the handwork and progress of the different Feminist movements that alone cannot end this biasedness and Women First alone cannot provide the one fit all solutions and equity to different marginalized group facing inequality and discrimination at many levels.
The complex nature of the problem demands a solution that is addressed in the theory of “intersectionality.”
Tips for Putting Intersectionality into Practice
- Recognize that there are multiple forms of discrimination that exist that really do block people from either reaching their true potential or accessing equal opportunity.
- Respect the voices and stories of the different individuals that are most affected by different issues centering their everyday struggle in walking in their shoes
- Try and be inclusive and incorporate different perspectives when talking about issues and challenges faced by different communities, its absolutely important to recognize that there are multiple voices; and we each have different ways of experiencing issue and challenges; and all those various voices, experiences and perspectives need to be considered in order for us to really make real, lasting change.
- unfortunately data becomes unreliable and really unable to tell the story of different communities when the data only focus on singular aspects of their identity, so we really need to be transparent and No more one fit ALL DATA which ensure and guarantees that data collection does not overlook the experiences of individuals with intersectional identities,
- And let’s start striving for more collaboration with people and/or provide resources for people from different communities, issue areas, and sectors to really start promoting transformative and inclusive change that will last.
The future is intersectional!
Everyone, whether Black, Hispanic, Asian, Indian or White, whatever gender you identify as, whatever one’s origin is, no matter which religion one follows, all of us deserve our voices to be heard and an opportunity to work and build our future with the same opportunities and tools.
All of us deserve to be seen because there is truly more than meets the eye when we are dealing with different people. I remember when I was getting back into the workplace after being homeless and a school dropout which you have to admit doesn’t really give you the best cv and despite being eager, determined and motivated to fight for the future that I longed for and all I need was a chance, for someone to believe in what I could be capable of with training and guidance but unfortunately we live in world of boxes and most of us become conditioned to judging other people based on superficial criteria, so for a while all I encountered was constant rejection.
I do understand recruitment better now as a founder when hiring for a position it sometimes does get hard to look beyond the lack professional experience when hiring and employers or recruiters are usually looking for individuals with experience who require less training and know-how to handle the work on the other hand, I do believe in looking at a persons potential, their drive, ambition and no matter how bad they look on paper or how much they don’t fit in any box we shouldn’t be quick to reject or dismissing someone.
When we fail to incorporate Intersectionality in our personal or professional lives, we fail to protect different communities that are left behind, we fail individuals whose requires that we acknowledge the paths for and experiences of oppression that may not impact us personally, but nonetheless are wrong and unjust. and It requires us to acknowledge that everyone doesn’t live the same paths or have the same experiences and as
Dr. King famously said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”