As February comes to an end, I reflect on how this year’s Black History Month has invited me to analyze my own identity. For the longest time, I thought I always had to line my identities up in a row, ranking them as if one was more important than another. I am a Black, Queer, Neurodivergent, Chronically Ill, Cis-Apathetic Large Woman. Do you see where I’m going with this? What I have come to realize is these pieces of me aren’t “either-or”, they are “yes, and.”
Coined by the critical race theorist Kimberlé Crenshaw in 1989, the term intersectionality describes this “yes, and” concept in reality. As defined by Merriam Webster, it is “the complex, cumulative way in which the effects of multiple forms of discrimination (such as racism, sexism, and classism) combine, overlap, or intersect especially in the experiences of marginalized individuals or groups.”
If we take a look at the last 100 years, we can see moments where folks had to choose between one or more of their identities. Throughout the 60’s we saw progress through the women’s rights movement, civil rights movement, and LGBTQ movement. What if you were a Queer, Black, Woman? Which movement did you choose? Which piece of your identity was the most important or needed your voice the most? Reading this 50 years later, you may think this is an impossible choice if you don’t sit in multiple marginalized identities, but it’s one marginalized folks are forced to choose from on a daily basis.
So how do we make a change? We take the time to listen and learn from people that are willing to share their lived experiences. To dedicate ourselves to the education of marginalized communities and fight for equity and inclusion.
We all benefit from living in a society that accepts our whole selves. Take a moment to spread the love by learning from some of my favorite creators that focus on intersectional work.
- Blair Imani: An award-winning educator, historian, and influencer
- Sonya Renee Taylor: NYT Bestselling Author committed to radical self-love as a path to liberation
- Marquisele Mercedes: Black/disabled/fat liberationist writer-educator
- Erin Bahadur: Mom, mental health advocate, and recovering addict
- Matt Bernstein: Queer Jewish Educator
- Kahlil Greene: Gen Z Historian discussing history and politics
- Monique Melton: Anti-racism educator, published author, international speaker, and host of the Shine Brighter Together podcast.
- Devin-Norelle: Professional model, trans advocate, media figure, public speaker, and opinion writer
- Nila Varman: Host of The Nila Extract, and the educational platform of the same name
- Imani Barbarin: Writes from the perspective of a Black woman with Cerebral Palsy
- Erika Hart: A kinky, poly, cancer-warrior, activist, and sexuality educator