By: Kayla Wong
Intersectionality is the intersection of different systems of oppression that combine to create an individual’s discrimination and oppression. This concept is used to make sense of/ explain individual experiences with systemic discrimination and oppression. These systems of oppression come from and with the various parts of one’s identity and individuality. Intersectionality meets the overlap of issues stemming from discrimination by race, gender, sexuality, disabilities, socioeconomic class, age, etc.
For example, say a man jokes with an Asian woman who he has never driven with, nor seen driving, about her being a terrible driver because of her race and gender. In this situation, the man discriminated against this woman, based on assumptions that were formed from the societal belief that women and Asian people are bad drivers. The woman’s identity as an Asian and as a woman has intersected and the man used her identity as a means of discrimination.
Why is intersectionality important?
The concept of intersectionality helps us understand the oppression some face as well as the advantages others receive based on their identity. Understanding others and their experiences is key to being a better ally and should decrease one’s chances of making others uncomfortable in any given situation with prejudice or harmful speech and actions. Even if one is not frequently and directly affected by oppression, it still exists and affects others. It is important to point out inequality and unfairness when you see it. Otherwise you are allowing this oppression and discrimination to continue. Letting inequality slip by without question prompts more inequality to follow, adding to the cycle of discrimination which continues to disadvantage those oppressed.
How can I use intersectionality?
Be aware of injustice when you see it and call it out. Do not be a bystander to unfairness and stand up for those who feel institutionalized pressure to not stand up for themselves. Staying informed, trying to understand the disadvantages and discrimination minorities face, and being vocal about the discrimination you see in your daily life is utilizing intersectionality. If you have societal advantage based on your identity, use it for good.
Kayla is an avid baker, aspiring filmmaker and creative writer. She is a student board member for Camp Reel Stories, a non-profit for girls like her who use filmmaking and storytelling to promote positive social change. Kayla’s focus is to bring more Asian female representation on and off the screen and equality for women in mainstream society. She hopes to inform and inspire others with her work. Fun fact: She likes to paint Bob Ross style landscapes in her spare time.