Do you know about this? Do you know how it fits in your life? I know right now in the US they’re having a lot of problems with understanding Critical Race Theory (CRT). Which is a fourth-year university subject of conversation, not elementary school. But if you do not understand what CRT is let me simplify it as much as I can. CRT states that any social institutions for example criminal justice system, the education system, the labor market, the housing market, the financial systems, and even the healthcare system are laced with unconscious and conscious racism. Where it may not be embedded in laws, regulations, rules, and procedures that lead to differential outcomes for each race. The issue of different results based on the color of the skin is a direct issue of unconscious bias and even worse where it is done on purpose. CRT then examines the impact and solutions to the issue.
But I feel understanding Intersectionality which includes CRT is more important than CRT alone. Over the years I have been seeing those who are far-right in their political leanings tend to use critical race theory as a catch-all for anything that supports a greater understanding of humanity as a whole. While the truth is that it is only targeting one section of society and one problem. Whilst ignoring the greater problem.
Understanding Intersectionality can be done at any level of education with varying different ways of teaching the subject. We must be careful to avoid misunderstanding the difference between the two subjects and their dichotomy. To avoid the same knee-jerking of those who are scared of talking about Critical Race Theory (CRT). Whereas if you are teaching about Intersectionality you cannot help but teach about CRT and it is done without even talking about it. Thus circumventing the big overblown drama that has been created around CRT. Don’t get me wrong, I still feel we need to talk about CRT and how it impacts society. But if we can accomplish this by not engaging in the hype behind it we might be able to accomplish more. This is why we need to change the focal point to start talking more about Intersectionality.
While it is easy to see the point where these two subjects are parallel in the impacts of race and how it affects communities. This is the limit of critical race theory (CRT) in short. The use of understanding Intersectionality extends the overall understanding of CRT. Thus showing a wider scope of issues faced by those the CRT aims to address.
Last night I had the pleasure of watching The Orion’s new season episode one. Where it touched on several different points of CRT and also Intersectionality. But there was a very missed opportunity that was lost and that was to talk about how suicide impacts others. I don’t want to give too many things away about the episode. But near the end of the time limit of the show they did not take the time to put contact numbers for support services (disappointing).
The show touched on race and the violence that can be faced by others in that race. Then the show also touched briefly on interracial relationship violence. Which is something we know exists but we willingly turn a blind eye to it. Because some find it uncomfortable even though it is none of their business who a person loves. We also saw the sad side of grief and the stages that people go through. In many ways, this show showed us the ugly side of who we are at different stages in our lives and the value of education. Now I know you might be thinking “Not me, I would never do that” but if we are honest with ourselves we do. It may just be unconscious bias, but we do it nonetheless. It could even be an issue of closeted hatred. Meaning I am homophobic or Transphobic because I feel I might be and I hate myself for being that way. It is a self-destructive thought process. But that thought process can be applied in many different areas on several different issues.
There is also a part of Intersectionality that CRT cannot fully address and that is the issue of domestic violence regardless of skin color, I also know that there are going to be those who say “not everyone is at risk”. The more groups that you belong to the higher chance of risk that you are in. for example a person of color might be under-educated, a woman, single mum, and has a disability. This increases the risk factor of harm.
I know it might be hard to visualize but if you look at the topic of Intersectionality like a spoked wheel all of the spokes meet in the center and cross to the other side. If we look at violence as a hand reaching into the spilling wheel. If there is only one spoke there is a limited chance of facing harm/violence. The more you add the higher chance there is of getting hurt. But with that comes the issue of the choice of not placing one’s self in areas of danger. But we must also understand that violence sometimes cannot be avoided as it is often acted upon by outside sources that are not in your control.
So now that we touched just briefly on Intersectionality. The question that is always asked is, “What can I do about it?” So let’s get real about it…
- Check your privilege at the door – Make sure that your privilege is not reducing someone else’s rights. A great example is those who are religious and are concerned that their rights are in jeopardy from those who are not involved in a belief structure other than Christianity. So they want laws to protect them from something that is not real. A lot of the time this is only a perceived threat not reality. It is their privilege as most of them are white-skinned individuals and reside in a limited age group and social-economic group. They use that privilege to push for laws that seek to enforce restrictions on others. Meanwhile complain that in other countries their religious laws are doing the same thing to others (investigate Islam vs Christianity in a society).
- Education is the only way out of ignorance – In 2000 the decline of educational services in the US began to reach a point of terminal velocity. Where the undereducated are starting to teach backed by political issues. Which then lowers the next generation of students as well as society and the laws that guide its future. For example in the US, where in the past they taught about the darkness of the actions of Slavery. Now in some states, they are more concerned about hurting feelings that now this horrific point in history is forbidden to teach. This creates a risk of it happening again if people don’t know what it is about. While this risk is not exclusive to the US alone it is just more visible in its decline. The subject is not exclusive to the problem of slavery. We must also not avoid teaching uncomfortable topics such as domestic violence, slavery, and the Holocaust just to name a few. We cannot hope to avoid it if we do not understand it.
- Know when to shut up! – Not everything in life needs your input. Some places are not for you to put your two cents in. For example, if two women are talking about childbirth and the pain involved. A man does not need to join in the conversation. But there is a caveat if it is in the presence of a medical professional and he can help this is an exception to the rule. But even he should know that he does not need to talk unless he was invited into the conversation or a matter of health concern. I know that is a very simple way of looking at it but the point is learning to listen to others and opening our minds to subjects that might be uncomfortable.
- Listen to lived experience – Okay I know this is not an easy thing to do. There is a very limited group of people who enjoy the suffering of others. The rest of us who are healthy do not. But when we take the time to listen we grow. This is because a person telling their story is more impactful than reading about the damage they have faced due to the actions of others. In some circumstances, you are able to ask questions to assist you in understanding.
- Watch our mouths – Yeah your mum told you about saying the wrong thing at the wrong time. But it goes much deeper than that. When we are talking about a subject we do need to be politically correct because it matters more than most know. I want to make a point at this time that the use of the term “Snowflake” is highly offensive and used by small minds. We must be mindful that some of the languages that are used in conversations can be ableist, exclusionary, and downright offensive and it causes harm to others. Learn to use and accept constructive criticism and be willing to give it to others. Also, be willing to pull up others on their unconscious bias in the way we communicate. We must become more intersectional and better at understanding the differences of others.
- Take a stand instead of complaining about a person taking a knee – I will always remember the two men (Tommie Smith and John Carlos) at the 1968 Olympics who rose a fist and the Australian (Peter Norman ) that just stood there as a pillar of support. More was said by those actions of all three men than what is known to them at that moment in time. To this day it is still talked about. Years later a single man (Colin Kaepernick) kneeled during the national anthem of the US. Vilified and attacked like the other three men years before. All lost their careers because they chose to make a stand. If you know something is wrong it is up to you to make the choice not to stay silent. “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” – Edmund Burke. Remember if you walk past it you accept it and you accept it for yourself as well. Seems simple right? Then ask yourself why are there so many people being abused? Why are there no laws that protect and are upheld in court? Why do schools take such a light stand against bullying? Why are children being used as target practice in schools in the US? You know what you need to do, I should not have to tell you how to make a stand and stop someone from putting their hand in the spokes. Now just do it!
- MAKE YOUR VOTE COUNT – Too many times we walk into a voting booth and vote the party line even when those we are voting for are monsters. We assume that those types of people will do good because of the others. But it is like the rotten fruit in a bowl they will foul the other fruit in time. Start voting for people who will do a good job and make the parties work for your vote. Let them know they are on thin ice. After all, they are there to serve us and not the other way around.
Now I know this is only a brief touch on the subject of Intersectionality. You might also be thinking how does this affect those who are Transgender. But the question I am asking you is how does it NOT? There is no difference between any person looking at a spoked wheel and thinking can I put my hand in and out without getting hurt. It does not take a rocket scientist to answer that one. It’s gonna hurt! We all need to learn about this subject and how we can change ourselves to better the lives of others. Thank you for taking the time and having a read.