Updated: Apr 6, 2020
Multiple aspects of our lives contribute to creating our identities and help to shape our futures. There are things such as race, gender, sexual orientation, language, education, occupation, religion, and many other factors that are key characteristics of who we are and how we function in society. Unfortunately, some of these things can create various obstacles for women throughout their entries lives. For those of you who do not know, I am a college student at Kean University. One of the classes I'm taking this semester is an intro to women and gender studies course. In this class a couple of weeks ago we discussed intersectionality. At the end of our class, I left feeling as though I had learned something, but I also felt as though I was leaving something unfinished, so I'm here to do my part to help finish something greater than just you and me. I'm assuming most people are unsure of what intersectionality means, the dictionary defines it as the interconnected nature of social categorizations such as race, class, and gender, regarded as creating overlapping and interdependent systems of discrimination or disadvantage; a theoretical approach based on such premise. In other words, it is a theory that believes the multiple layers of your identity (race, class, gender, sexual orientation), may make a person more susceptible to discrimination and create more disadvantages in life. The term was coined in the late 1980s by a woman named Kimberlé Crenshaw. In developing this term she was basing her work off other black feminists, her work had always focused on the relation of skin color and gender, however, it wasn't until she introduced the term Intersectionality that she realized it went deeper than just gender and race. Intersectionality can be deadly in some situations because the layers of ones identity can keep their crisis' under the table, so no one will realize it is happening. If we are unaware of what is happening, how can we shine a light on it? Below is a video of Crenshaw speaking on intersectionality and how it has affected women in the black community. I strongly urge you to watch it before continuing in this article.
The first time I saw this Ted Talk was during my women and gender studies class and it blew my mind. I remember thinking how could such tragic even never be publicized, how could I not have heard about this? It bothered me, almost angered me. Since that class, I have been looking up how intersectionality affects all communities and some of the things that have been hiding in plain sight is almost appalling in my opinion. Throughout my research, I learned that Hispanic/ Latina girls are the most deprived groups in our society of education. As of 2017, there was a 6.5% drop out rate among the Hispanic community, compared to the lowest drop out rate of 3.9% for white children. This can be directly correlated to the lack of good education in the areas where most Hispanic communities reside. Along with that, I also found out how much less a woman makes compared to a white man based on the woman's race. It is still no surprise that women are still making less than men, however, I was unaware of how much less a woman will make compared to other women based on the color of their skin. In my research, it became clear that white women make 77% of what a man makes. In that same regard, black women make 61% of what a white man makes. A native American woman would make 58% of an average white man's salary. Hispanic/ Latina women make 53%, also half of what a man makes. However, the most shocking piece of information to me was the fact that Asian women make about 85% of the average man's salary. That shocked me but after thinking about it, it made sense. It makes sense because even though Asians are a minority group in America, they are considered the model minority. This is because they are stereotyped to be very intelligent, hard-working people. This is just an example of how intersectionality can also push you ahead in our society. While yes, part of an Asian woman's identity is being a part of a minority, she is apart of a respected minority. Therefore, if she can prove herself to be worthy, she can receive better treatment than women of other minority groups.
Now if any of you are like me, you may be wondering "what can I do to help stop this?" There are a few things that you could do, however, this is not a battle you or me can win on our owns, this is going to take a very large group effort. The number one thing to do is realize it exists and to be mindful of how it can affect people. Luckily for you, after reading this article you have already completed that first step. Knowing is half the battle, you can't take action if you are aren't aware of the situation. The next best thing to do is inform others about the crisis at hand; share this article, tell your friends about what you learned, send out the video linked above. The more people know, the more they will be able to watch out for intersectionality. Next is to be inclusive towards every one of all sizes, ethnicities, and backgrounds. Try to branch out and make friends with new people, be a little friendlier towards your neighbors no matter how they look or what they do. In doing this you are helping to make the women affected by intersectionality feel seen and heard. And finally, don't fall victim to being someone who promotes intersectionality. I'm sure we can all think back to a time when we may have treated someone differently based on a stereotype we have heard of. Maybe we didn't smile their way, or you gave them a little attitude. Judging someone based off of how they look won't solve this problem, but simply make worse. It is important that as a community of women we are respectful of one another because we should be in this together. Thank you so much for reading!! I hope you have learned something today and I hope you share it with others! Remember if there is a certain article you'd like to see me write about, post it in the comments, reach out to me on social media, or send me an email!!
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