During our second event in our For the Love of Justice series, we wanted to jump right into our session by asking “What does intersectionality mean to you.” However, we realized that intersectionality is such a loaded question. We didn’t want to the audience to feel disconnected and removed from the notion if they hadn’t already understood the academic, collegiate context of the concept. Yet, we knew that though people might not be familiar with the actual term – we all experience intersectionality and it helps us see the ways we’re empowered and disempowered. However the people that need to understand it the most may not even know what this scholarly term is that activists have come to use in such frequency.
So we realized we had to start smaller to go bigger. To make this concept more accessible to a larger community, we needed to break down intersectionality in more simpler terms. How do we bring people closer to that word, who DO experience it daily, who needs to understand the concept the most, who should be equipped with the language – without sounding so anthropological about it?
We started backwards. We first asked: What do people know about you… and what do they draw from that? How do you see the world and how do you move through the world?
And if we broke it down further… we realized that intersectionality really is:
- The understanding of an entire person
- Having no hierarchy of your identities. You are all those things at once.
- How your race, culture, class, gender affects you and how people interact with you.
- How it’s not JUST reduced to culture, race, class, and gender….
- How it’s ALL the elements and experiences of the entire person, their actions, their thinking.
And we came to the conclusion that when talking about intersectionality it really is understanding who you are. It is simply your lived experience and it shapes how you intersect, interact, and view the world. It put a focus on the empowerment component of intersectionality and was an opportunity to define intersectionality by however the individual wanted to be defined. So instead of asking “what intersectionality meant to you” at the beginning of our session – we just prompted the question with “I Am…..” allowing themselves to define whatever, however they wanted to be.