What is Intersectionality?
I have taken a couple of courses before where we had discussed many issues about diversity and inclusion but I was not aware of this term before. The term was coined by black scholar Kimberlé Crenshaw. The concept is based on the fact that the overlapping nature of different identities like race, color, class or gender can lead to more disadvantages or discrimination for an individual as compared to individual identities. The coin was termed thinking about the discrimination faced by Black women and how it was different as compared to the plight faced by only black men or only white women. This video also explains the term with different examples.
Impact on schools and the steps ahead
According to some surveys and findings (1), students of color located in poor localities are more likely to get incomplete and poor coursework. Similarly, as per a study, only two percent of White girls were subjected to exclusionary suspensions compared to 12 percent of Black girls (2). Students of color who identify as LGBTQ face more victimization as compared to white students. There are so many facts in favor of the negative impact of intersectionality on school students. The question is how can we stop it? How can a teacher be taught to not be biased? Intersectionality issues cannot be looked at from 2 different angles. For example, Ms Crenshaw mentions that Harvard came up with 2 different committees (one for women and one for black) to increase the admission rate of black women. This is the wrong way of looking at things. There needs to be a better enactment of policies regarding intersectionality in schools. If there are biased policies, they need to be changed or replaced and educators need to realize this.
For Christina Torres, who teaches seventh- and ninth-grade English at the University Laboratory School in Honolulu, Hawai’i, knows that students talk about race, gender and other identity layers outside of class and feel that it is her responsibility to let them bring up these topics in class. (3) Torres says. “A woman who is Latina in L.A. is going to have a very different experience from someone who’s in the middle of Arkansas. The place matters, too.” It is really important for all teachers to think like Torres. I believe this not only makes the students understand their multiple identities but also empowers them to believe that everybody is different and this infact needs to be respected.