By: Sarah Bach
On February 18, 35 educators across Ohio met virtually to continue dismantling white supremacy in their classrooms. The seventh session brought together Kaleidoscope Youth Services, who presented on issues facing LGBTQIA students, representatives from LASER (Latinx Space for Enrichment and Research) and Jamie Upthall and Alyssa Chrisman from The Ohio State University department of Disability Studies, who tackled normative culture regarding disability.
These groups introduced a new aspect to our ongoing study of antiracism: intersectionality. Intersectionality expresses the interconnected nature of social categories such as race, class, and gender. Considering these aspects of identity together allows us to see overlapping systems of discrimination or disadvantage. Kimberly Crenshaw, a Columbia law professor and Ohio native, coined the term in 1989 while analyzing the multidimensionality of Black women’s experiences.
According to Crenshaw, “Intersectionality is a lens through which you can see where power comes and collides, where it interlocks and intersects. It’s not simply that there’s a race problem here, a gender problem here, and a class or LBGTQ problem there. Many times, that framework erases what happens to people who are subject to all of these things.”
Each of the presenters from session seven confronted how oppression compounds at the intersection of multiple marginalized identities. Amanda Erickson from Kaleidoscope Youth Services shared data that indicates white LGBTQ students are less likely than all other racial/ethnic groups to feel unsafe at school.
Alyssa Chrisman and Jamie Upthall highlighted the problem of minority overrepresentation in special education, and the representatives from LASER discussed the unique barriers facing undocumented students.
Scrutinizing different forms of prejudice is essential to anti-racism work, and our presenters offered several questions for reflection:
How can I adapt to meet the needs of different groups?
How do I show up for LGBTQIA people in my life?
How familiar am I with the experiences of undocumented people?
Erase the Space aims to dismantle white supremacy in the classroom, and this session’s topics reminded us of the inextricable ways identities overlap and interact. No person has a single identity, instead they are a mosaic of many things.
Sarah Bach is an English major in The Ohio State University's class of 2021. She has written on behalf of various education-based organizations including Ohio State's College of Education and Human Ecology, and The Ohio State University Press.