At the time of its emergence, black women were frequently asked to choose whether the black movement or the women’s movement was most important. This was the wrong question. The more appropriate question was how to understand the intersections and interconnections between the two movements.”- Angela Davis
In 1983, Angela Davis wrote 288 pages examining the historical relationship between gender, race and class. She was educated, she was black and she was a woman. A Civil Rights Activist and University Professor, her book Women, Race and Class explored the interplay of personal identities and social movements, asserting the white feminist movement had not garnered true equality because it did not understand the needs of women of color. Far before it was a coined term, Davis’ life embodied intersectionality.
Crucial to our participation in a “Day without Women,” intersectionality proclaims what we realistically know, that forms of oppression tied to race, class, size, sexuality and disability do not exist independent of one another, they combine and compound, mature and contract. It calls us to challenge any one of these oppressors by considering the intertwined relationship of them all. Yes, we share gender but our individual marginalization is likely drastically different.
So how can we do this? How can we incorporate intersectionality into our everyday?
Davis tells us to acknowledge our privilege and then act accordingly on behalf of it. Look for what we don’t understand, what challenges us and demand equality of those issues and identities.
She tells us to observe and investigate with an intersectional lens. To understand that simultaneously felt oppression's cannot be pulled apart and we must confront the systemic obstacles and external factors preventing ALL women from being equal. And perhaps most imperative, she insists we allow women who are further oppressed, be it through racism, ageism, ableism or hetero-sexism, to speak for themselves. To listen with humility as inequality in the workplace, the path to higher education or even the ability to leave work and strike for the day is most definitely not the same for all of us.
These are the things we consider as we each find a way to resist in tomorrow’s “Day Without Women.” - Maureen Post
Photo Credit : Library of Congress