Professors talk intersectionality

“Being an ally means being willing to act with and for others in the pursuit of ending oppression and creating equality,” said by Los Medanos College English professor Jill Buettner-Ouellette at an event she hosted Monday with fellow English Professor James Noel.

The workshop “Courageous Conversations: Intersectionality and Allyship,” was held in the LMC Little Theater to define intersectionality and explore how intersectionality can be used as an analytical tool, facilitate courageous conversations around oppression and encourage attendees to use it as a foundation for allyship.

Workshop participants heard what is and isn’t intersectionality, and even being encouraged to define it each in their own words. Intersectionality being the idea that the reasons for the subjugation of others can overlap of intersect creating different levels or layers of discrimination.

“Intersectionality allows us to recognize and comprehend the intricacies of our humanity. Multiple factors affect the societal conditions that we face, and the hierarchical structures evident in our lives seldom impact us in singular ways,” said Noel.”Intersectionality encourages us to become conscious of the complex ways that people experience oppression.”

Audience members participated in an activity called the Matrix of Identity, in which they took aspects of their identities: class, sexuality, ability, nationality, and created circles that each contained one. Then they would eliminate all parts of their identity that are not subjected to oppression. And finally they connected different circles to show how these aspects might intersect.

For example, Noel related the fact that while he is a male, he is also a black male, which comes with its own array of problems from society.

Next, Buttner-Ouellette took some time to explain what an Ally was and how others can become one, encouraged attendents to come up with their own ways on how to be an ally.

Before the event would end, attendees were encouraged to apply their idea of what being a good ally to what the hosts called the Board of Allyship. The hosts distributed sticky-notes among the guests and asked that they post it on the board in hopes that they leave with a bit more understanding and goodwill.