by Marsha Rakestraw
Less than two months ago, Justine Damond was shot and killed by a Minneapolis police officer for an unknown reason.
Her story has repeatedly made international headlines. Many people are now familiar with her name and her tragic story. Justine was a white woman.
Many people also recognize these names: Eric Garner. Mike Brown. Tamir Rice. Freddie Gray.
They were all black men who were killed by police within the last few years.
Also killed by police in a similar time frame were these people: Michelle Cusseaux. Tanisha Anderson. Aura Rosser.
But most people aren’t familiar with these names. They were all black women.
Kimberlé Crenshaw is a legal scholar and a pioneer in critical race theory. In 1989 she coined the term “intersectionality” to highlight the fact that some people experience multiple or compounded types of oppression and discrimination (or exclusion and invisibility), because of the diversity in their identities.
Black women, for example, may experience discrimination because they’re black, and also because they’re women.
If they are also poor, or disabled, or gay or transgender, or practice a certain kind of religion, for example, those may be other pieces of their identities through which they are marginalized.
As Crenshaw says, “Without frames that allow us to see how social problems impact all the members of a targeted group, many will fall through the cracks of our movements, left to suffer in virtual isolation. But it doesn’t have to be this way.”
Intersectionality is an important framework to understand, so that we can better empathize with the experiences of others, we can identify interconnected, complex forms of oppression, and we can develop meaningful, systemic solutions that address the needs and interests of all.
Here are 3 videos to start the exploration of intersectionality with others:
Intersectionality 101 (3:03 min)
A brief, animated, kid-friendly overview of what intersectionality means.
The Urgency of Intersectionality (18:49 min)
A powerful TED talk about intersectionality from Kimberlé Crenshaw. Crenshaw highlights race and gender bias and how the combination of the two can cause even more harm.
8 Badass Feminists of Color You Should Know (4:11 min)
Franchesca Ramsey from MTV Decoded and Laci Green from Braless outline what intersectional feminism is and what it looks like applied to different social issues.
Find other useful resources in our online Resource Center.
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