Intersectionality: the Cross Between Race and Gender

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Race and gender are frequently seen as independent spheres of encounters which influence social, economic, and political aspects of oppression. Despite this, each of the categories overlaps, and cross each other, creating complex interactions. This concept is known as intersectionality. How one defines him or herself is greatly influenced by individual characteristics, family dynamics, historical factors, and social and political contexts (Tatum). All of the ways in which people experience these factors are in turn shaped heavily by race and gender. The concept of “intersectionality” came from a metaphor coined by Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw. The term came about in explaining how race oppression and gender oppression operate in the lives of black women. The concept emerged as the “integrated analysis” (Combahee Statement 1977) of the manifold and simultaneous oppressions that all women of color face” (Combahee Statement 1977). The Combahee statement, developed by a collective of black feminist, included Barbara Smith and Audre Lord. These two women sought the “development of integrated analysis and practice based upon the fact that the major systems of oppression are interlocking” (Combahee Statement of 1977). The intersectionality concept brought together black feminist and postcolonial feminism. Black women face a critical problem when it comes to facing oppression. Not only do they have to face racial oppression, but they face gender oppressions. If a black woman joins a feminist movement she is likely to find that white-dominated movement supports an agenda and concerns that have to deal with issues such as the glass ceiling, abortion rights and the election of a female president; however, the black woman finds her interest in day care reform and Head Start programs for her children. Then a black woman may join the civil right movement with hopes of dealing with the kind of discrimination at work. Even though racism is the main focus of the civil rights...
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