A topic that I find crucial while learning about the Critical Race Theory is intersectionality. It means “the examination of race, sex, class, national origin, and sexual orientation, and how their combination plays out in various settings. These categories and others can be separate disadvantaging factors.” (Delgado, Richard, and Jean Stefancic. “Critical Race Theory: an Introduction.” Amazon, New York University Press, 2017, www.amazon.com/Critical-Race-Theory-Introduction-America/dp/0814721354. )
As a black woman I find it important to address this topic. Intersectionality is an issue that society has failed to recognize. People tend to place people in boxes they feel they should be in. For example I constantly try to lend my voice to the feminist movement because there is a trend of sexism in Nigerian culture, but a lot of the issues spoken about in the feminist movement mostly apply to that of a white woman.
I then don’t feel like I am truly supporting a cause that would actually help women in my position. Then I look at the black lives matter movement and find that although the main focus is to uplift the race as a whole, black women’s voices are constantly being lost in all the noise because it seems to be a mostly male driven movement.
I find myself constantly getting into heated arguments with black men because they feel as though they know what it’s like to be black in America, which they do, but they don’t understand the burden of being black and female in America. They don’t see how although the system is against them because they are black, a part of it is also on their side because they are men.
I feel intersectionality is a crucial topic to discuss because people tend to neglect people’s problems because they don’t understand them. This is a very big and neglected problem especially in the black community. For example I may identify as black, but I also identify as a woman, on top of that I identify as a darkskin black woman and because of this I also have to deal with light skin privilege.
Now, imagine there is another girl who also identifies as a black woman, but is light skin. Although there are many things that we can relate on there are also many things that she will not understand because of her lighter complexion. Light Skin privilege is an issue that isn’t talked about enough to a point that people don’t even know it exists. Therefore, people don’t see the problem and feel as though dark skin people are fishing for attention so they silence them and dwell in their ignorance.
Examples of the effects of intersectionality are made very clear in the movie “Harriet” and the book “Incidents of the Slave Girl” Harriet went through so much as a woman, more specifically a black woman that a man in her same position wouldn’t have gone through. For example how she was sexually abused by her owner as a child. Or even her sister had to make some hard decisions so that her and her children wouldn’t have to pay the price for her sister’s crimes.
It seems that somehow it is always the slave women who are left with the burden of their children being born into slavery or their children being ripped out of their hands and sold for profit. Or in “Incidents of a slave girl” her owner just wouldn’t let her go because of the emotional attachment he had to her. These sources show how the only thing worse than being a black slave at the time was being a black female slave because you are more vulnerable to certain attacks.
What I’ve realized about intersectionality is that the main issue is that people don’t like to hear that they are privileged. People don’t really see how everyone is privileged in their own way. For example I may be black, dark skin, and a woman, but I’m still straight and I’m mindful of the fact that this is a privilege and no matter where I go in the world my sexuality will always be accepted. Even if I was gay I am still privileged in the sense that I am cis-gendered.
People need to see how there is nothing wrong with privilege. Nobody should be asked to apologize for the life they were born into, but people do need to start acknowledging their privileges and seeing that they may not be able to understand everything a person is going through.
Most importantly, people need to start talking less and listening more. This is not even close to everything that CRT is all about, but here’s a summary on what exactly you would learn if you took the opportunity to educate yourself on the topic. The sole purpose of critical race theory is education. It’s to educate people on different social issues they may not have even known existed.
I love this theory because it takes away people’s chances to have excuses – excuses for being insensitive, excuses for being ignorant and excuses for being racist. I notice a lot of people say insensitive things and tend to claim ignorance when people call them out on what they say. It is not hard to educate yourself in a country like America. You don’t have to be taught all your information in the classroom. Modern technology has made it so easy to access the information you need in order to be informed enough on the social problems in your country, but it is your responsibility to take initiative and learn about things such as CRT.