Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Intersectionality is class politics.

I'm regularly astonished and puzzled by people who side line intersectionality as "just identity politics" and something that exists "without class analysis". Especially when Intersectionality was clearly created to provide working class black women something to use to fight for their rights in the work place. Acknowledging that the discrimination they face was more complex than others and that workers legal rights should reflect that.

The image on the left is from an article called "People of colour like me have been painted out of working-class history". If you are new to intersectionality and want to read the text most associated with the term "Crenshaw, K. (1989) "Dermarginalizing the Intersection of Race and Sex: A Black Feminist Critique of Antidiscrimination Doctrine, Feminist Theory, and Antiracist Politics", University of Chicago Legal Forum: pp139–197 " - you can do so here.

In the recent years the theory and practice has developed widely. No, it’s not the communist manifesto, but it’s still one of the most influential frame works in liberation activism in deconstructing hierarchies and building bigger and a more inclusive movement. I think if we go back to what intersectionaty came from we can realise it was all about class. No. it wasn't about the usual people who the discourse about class politics normally centres but it was still about working class people. Because black working-class women - are working class people.

I know some of the current discourse about intersectionality sometimes leaves out the class struggle roots which is REALLY bad, but that's why we have to remind people it isn’t wishy washy "identity politics" but a political tool to get political activism out of single issue lens. I'm not here for watered down explanation of intersectionality either, not even a fan of the Wikipedia article about it. Intersectionality is something you do, not a buzzword to show how enlightened you are, and that's why I'm happy to talk to student activist all the time about how they can do this on campus.

So while how some people like to go about how "intersectionality just doesn't involve class and diverts from the main issue - capitalism"
1. I'm pretty sure if capitalism falls there are still going to bigots bopping about if the revolution isn't intersectional, so don't tell people who face intersectional struggles to "wait the their turn".
2. When are we going to discuss the lack of intersectionality in working class discourse?

Because no one is yet to give me answer to "why is your panel about poverty/class/austerity etc dominated by university educated white men? Even as a working class women, I have to admit that that fact that I even made it to university and got a degree from a University of London institution is a privilege that other working class women don't have and is something I have to check when discussing class.

I for or one don't want to go to another event yet again the experiences of being black, or lgbt, or a women etc is a side note in "real class analysis". Because it’s not. The existence of black politics or feminist politics or queer politics is not one line in the middle of your eloquent speech of the working class (white man), we've all written about class struggle an experienced it first hand and developed methods of organising to tackle it. You just have the access to the the platforms which most people listen to. You do sort of have to question the reason why those who are capable or reciting the communist manifesto in their sleep can't cant manage to recognise interstectionality (the root theory) could be something that helps not hinders class politics development. Sometimes I think many they just have a misconcetption of what it is, which is why I wrote this blog (just in case). But the truth is also some of them just don't want to, which is something I can’t really help. The left always want talk about opening up our minds to intellectual "debate", how about we open up our minds to accepting that more people from different backgrounds have experienced class oppression and organised around it.

Anyway, I could sit in debating society style debates questioning if this is "all just identity politics" or I could actually get on with my job and create more inclusive and safer spaces for activism. I rather do the latter so here! - take my two cents! (if you want them) Have a lovely day!

*drops mic*

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