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A Bit of Background: Intersectionality

Intersectionality is a term created by legal scholar Kimberlé Crenshaw to “describe how different forms of discrimination can interact and overlap, and why it was necessary for feminists to take into account the needs of women from a variety of backgrounds when considering social questions and issues to advocate for.” The term has broadened to describe how multiple forms of marginalization come together to silence less privileged groups within the progressive movement. For instance addressing mental illness in the prison reform movement, or trans women in feminism, or racism in the labor movement, environmental racism, etc.

The concept of intersectionality has been controversial on the left where some have called it a divisive ploy that uses “identity politics” to split the movement. However many on the left are starting to acknowledge that no movement can be truly effective if privilege within the movement is not acknowledged and addressed and marginalized voices and perspectives are not shared and valued. If these structures are not examined and dismantled in the progressive community there is little hope of dismantling them on a national or global level.