Intersectionality, in the words of Kimberlé Crenshaw.
Will update with other articles, interviews, videos, … (suggestions for additions? you can contact me here )
*** From the article in Feminist Theory and Anti-Racist Politics (1989).
Crenshaw, p.140: “Because the intersectional experience is greater than the sum of racism and sexism, any analysis that does not take intersectionality into account cannot sufficiently address the particular manner in which Black women are subordinated. Thus, for feminist theory and antiracist policy discourse to embrace the experiences and concerns of Black women, the entire framework that has been used as a basis for translating “women’s experience” or “the Black experience” into concrete policy demands must be rethought and recast.”
Crenshaw, p.149: “This apparent contradiction is but another manifestation of the conceptual limitations of the single-issue analyses that intersectionality challenges. The point is that Black women can experience discrimination in any number of ways and that the contradiction arises from our assumptions that their claims of exclusion must be unidirectional. Consider an analogy to traffic in an intersection, coming and going in all four directions. Discrimination, like traffic through an intersection, may flow in one direction, and it may flow in another. If an accident happens in an intersection, it can be caused by cars traveling from any number of directions and, sometimes, from all of them. Similarly, if a Black woman is harmed because she is in the intersection, her injury could result from sex discrimination or race discrimination.“
Crenshaw p.150: “Unable to grasp the importance of Black women’s intersectional experiences, not only courts, but feminist and civil rights thinkers as well have treated Black women in ways that deny both the unique compoundedness of their situation and the centrality of their experiences to the larger classes of women and Blacks.“
*** From Ted talk Kimberlé Crenshaw 2016 (video).
“I would go on to learn that African American women, like other women of colour, like socially marginalised people all over the world were facing all kinds of dilemmas and challenges as a consequence of intersectionality, intersections of race and gender, of hetereosexism, transphobia, xenophobia, ableism, all of these social dynamics come together and create challenges that are sometimes quite unique.”
*** From an interview with Kimberlé Crenshaw on Columbia Law school (2017).
“You introduced intersectionality more than 30 years ago. How do you explain what it means today?
Crenshaw: “These days, I start with what it’s not, because there has been distortion. It’s not identity politics on steroids. It is not a mechanism to turn white men into the new pariahs. It’s basically a lens, a prism, for seeing the way in which various forms of inequality often operate together and exacerbate each other. We tend to talk about race inequality as separate from inequality based on gender, class, sexuality or immigrant status. What’s often missing is how some people are subject to all of these, and the experience is not just the sum of its parts.“
*** From an interview with Kimberlé Crenshaw on Time.com (2020).
Q: You originally coined the term intersectionality to describe bias and violence against black women, but it’s become more widely used—for LGBTQ issues, among others. Is that a misunderstanding of intersectionality?
Crenshaw: “Intersectionality is a lens through which you can see where power comes and collides, where it interlocks and intersects. It’s not simply that there’s a race problem here, a gender problem here, and a class or LBGTQ problem there. Many times that framework erases what happens to people who are subject to all of these things. Some people look to intersectionality as a grand theory of everything, but that’s not my intention.“
*** From The Makers Conference (2020) (video)
Crenshaw: “Now, there’s a lot of nonsense circulating around about what intersectionality is, particularly from its critics. They say it’s a religion. It’s an identity politics on steroids. My new favourite, it’s an assault on straight white men. […] All of these ideas about what intersectionality is is completely of the mark. What intersectionality is, is a prism, it’s a framework, it’s a template for seeing and telling different kinds of stories about what happens in our workplaces, what happens in society, and to whom it happens. Now some part on why we are not done, is predicated on what we haven’t been able to see, what’s not remembered, the stories that are not told. So, intersectionality is like a training wheel to get us to where we need to go. It’s glasses, high index glasses, to help us see the things we need to see. Now, in all honesty when I fashionned the term some 30 years ago, I thought of it as remedial education for judges. who didn’t get to see or didn’t seem to understand what was happening to Black women. They didn’t seem to understand that Black women can experience race discrimination in a different way than Black men do. Or they didn’t understand that Black women can experience gender discrimination in a different way than white women did. […] So I was trying to figure out what kind of framework they needed to see in order to keep Black women from falling through the cracks of their very narrow conception of what discrimination was. So intersectionality was just like a flashing neon sign: I know you’re used to thinking about discrimination in this way, but I want to draw your attention to where they overlap, where race and gender discrimination intersect. So the point of intersectionality was to say: that what happens to Black women isn’t the sum total of what happens to Black men and white women, it’s different, and sometimes it requires a different approach. Now, that’s intersectionality 101.”
*** From the Facebook page of the Columbia Center for Intersectionality and Social Policy Studies (of which Kimberlé Crenshaw is the director) (dd. 2021):
“Intersectionality theory provides a dynamic research paradigm—a prism from which to analyze more fully a range of social problems in order to ensure inclusive remedies and greater collaboration across social movements. Intersectionality moves beyond traditional frameworks that separate social problems into discrete challenges facing specific groups. It starts from the premise that people have multiple identities, and being members of more than one “group,” they can simultaneously experience oppression and privilege. Intersectionality sheds light on the unique experiences that are produced when various forms of discrimination intersect with these converging identities. It is a dynamic strategy for linking the grounds of discrimination (e.g., race, gender, class, sexual identity, etc.) to historical, social, economic, political, and legal contexts and norms that intertwine to create structures of oppression and privilege.“
Demarginalizing the Intersection of Race and Sex. A Black Feminist Critique of Antidiscrimination doctrine, Feminist Theory and Anti-Racist Politics, University of Chicago Legal Reform, Issue 1, Article8, 1989.
Kimberlé Krenshaw, The Urgency of Intersectionality. TED Women 2016. (video).
Kimberlé Krenshaw on intersectionality. More than two decades later, Columbia Law School, June 8, 2017.
Kimberlé Crenshaw. The 2020 MAKERS Conference, February 15, 2020 (video).
She coined the term ‘Intersectionality’ over 30 years ago. Here’s what it means to her today, Time, February 20, 2020.
Facebook page Columbia Center for Intersectionality and Social Policy Studies (dd. 2021).