August Newsletter: Intersectionality

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You may be wondering why Worldwide Speech has decided to offer BLM and LGBTQ+ resources on a monthly basis. We are doing so based on a concept called “intersectionality.”

What is Intersectionality?

The National Conference for Community and Justice (NCCJ) defines intersectionality as, “the interconnected nature of social categorizations such as race, class, gender, as they apply to a given individual or group.”

Discussion of intersectionality dates all the way back to abolitionists such as Sojourner Truth. In 1851, Truth called out the hypocrisy of the women’s rights movement declaring when activists spoke about women, they only meant white women. 

In 1989, Kimberley Crenshaw put a name to the idea and used the metaphor of traffic intersections to explain black female experiences (NCCJ, Intersectionality).

“‘Intersectionality is what occurs when a woman from a minority group tries to navigate the main crossing in the city.  The main highway is ‘racism road’. One cross street can be Colonialism, then Patriarchy Street . . .. She has to deal not only with one form of oppression but with all forms, which link together to make a double, a triple, multiple, a many-layered blanket of oppression.”

Kimberley Crenshaw, 1989

While historically intersectionality focused mainly on the multiple identities of women, today intersectionality is used to address identities beyond race and gender including:

  • class
  • religion 
  • sexual orientation
  • age
  • ability/disability
  • ethnicity

In summary, one person’s identity cannot be spoken about without addressing all of their other identities. Practicing this allows us to move towards a more inclusive world while simultaneously unlearning our own internalized dominance and oppression (NCCJ, Intersectionality).

What does intersectionality mean to Worldwide Speech?

As healthcare providers and teachers, we must make sure we are constantly evaluating and re-evaluating ALL aspects of our clients and their families by acknowledging their various intersections in order to provide the most effective assessment and intervention services. We must maintain cultural competence by understanding and appropriately responding to the unique combination of cultural variables and the full range of dimensions of diversity that both we as professionals and client/patient/family bring to interactions. In order to do so, we must engage in a dynamic and complex process of ongoing self-assessment and continuous expansion of our cultural knowledge (ASHA, Cultural Competence).

Through this introspection, WWS has acknowledged that our client base encompasses many different intersections. For example, we may have a client who is on the autism spectrum, who identifies as gender non-binary, whose family are POCs, who live in the mobile community, etc. Thus, we have decided to provide resources for various intersections in order to appropriately advocate for our clients and their families. 

Want to learn more about intersectionality?

Check out these resources:

References:
  • American Speech and Hearing Association (n.d.). Cultural Competence. Retrieved August 02, 2020, from https://www.asha.org/PRPSpecificTopic.aspx?folderid=8589935230
  • NCCJ. (n.d.). Intersectionality. Retrieved August 02, 2020, from https://www.nccj.org/intersectionality