Blackipedia is a new weekly CASSIUS feature that takes a fun approach to exploring Black history, slang and culture. For the month of March, we’ll be focusing on topics related to (Black) women. Get ready to learn something—and tell a friend!
- Intersectionality, as defined by Dictionary.com, is the theory that “the overlap of various social identities, as race, gender, sexuality, and class, contributes to the specific type of systemic oppression and discrimination experienced by an individual.” It was coined by UCLA law professor and race theorist Kimberlé Crenshaw, though the earliest iteration of the concept appeared in 1977 when the Combahee River Collective—a trailblazing group of radical Black feminists—published their official statement.
- In their statement, the women write: “The most general statement of our politics at the present time would be that we are actively committed to struggling against racial, sexual, heterosexual, and class oppression, and see as our particular task the development of integrated analysis and practice based upon the fact that the major systems of oppression are interlocking.”
- Today we see “intersectionality” come up in many feminist conversations. An especially popular topic among those on social media, you’ve more than likely seen the term used in the context of FeminismTM (read: white feminism), especially when said feminism fails to take the experiences of Black women and women of color into consideration.
- On that note, many people who throw the term around have no idea what it actually means. In 2009, Crenshaw stated that she’s “amazed at how [intersectionality] gets over- and under-used; sometimes I can’t even recognize it in the literature any more.”
To Learn More:
Kimberlé Crenshaw on Intersectionality, More Than Two Decades Later (Columbia Law School)
How We Get Free: Black Feminism and the Combahee River Collective (Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor)
Before There Was ‘Intersectionality,’ There Was the Combahee River Collective (The Washington Post)