Intersectionality operates under the premise that people possess multiple, layered identities, including race, gender, class, sexual orientation, ethnicity, and ability, among others. Intersectionality refers to the ways in which these identities intersect to affect individuals’ realities and lived experiences, thereby shaping their perspectives, worldview, and relationships with others. Exposing these multiple identities can help clarify they ways in which a person can simultaneously experience privilege and oppression. For example, a Black woman in America does not experience gender inequalities in exactly the same way as a white woman, nor racial oppression identical to that experienced by a Black man. Each race and gender intersection produces a qualitatively distinct life experience in this illustration, as do all other locations where two or more identities intersect. Black feminist Patricia Hill Collins refers to this system as the “matrix of domination.” Because these axes of oppression that intersect are continually shifting and contextually dependent, one may be privileged based on one axis in one situation, yet disadvantaged in a different situation.
Primers and additional resources
Leading at the Intersections: An Introduction to the Intersectional Approach Model for Policy & Social Change (.pdf) – defines and discusses intersectionality in the context of policy and social change
Intersectionality: A Tool for Gender and Economic Justice (.pdf) – focuses on intersectionality with respect to gender equality issues
Image: Rohit Rath, http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/deed.en