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Am I a Black Woman or a Woman Who Is Black? A Few Thoughts on the Meaning of Intersectionality

  • Julia S. Jordan-Zachery (a1)

Abstract

On a hot 90-degree day during the summer of 2006, my six-year-old daughter looked at me and asked, “Why can boys run around without a shirt and I can't?” After I explained, or at least attempted to, society's rules and regulations, she quietly looked at me and said, “Oh! It's because I have a vagina. Well, that's not fair.” About a year earlier, as she was watching a popular children's show she asked me, “Why are there no little girls that look like me on the ‘WXY’ show?” I am still unsure as to how to answer her on her question on the omission of race. What my daughter is questioning is how does her gender and race, and their intersection, influence how she is treated in society. It is difficult to tell an impressionable child that because of factors beyond her control, her gender and her race, she will be treated differently than little boys—black or white and little girls—particularly white. My daughter is like so many other women of color and other marginalized groups who confront this issue of their omission from so many practices, structures, and institutions of society. Many theorists not only have sought ways of discussing the issues raised by my daughter but also have articulated strategies useful in addressing these “unfair” practices. Much of this theorizing has been given the name “intersectionality.”

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Politics & Gender
  • ISSN: 1743-923X
  • EISSN: 1743-9248
  • URL: /core/journals/politics-and-gender
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