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  • Reverend James Squire

Intersectionality

Updated: Feb 8, 2021


Intersectionality is an important ingredient in social justice work that means doing something positive for groups such as black people, Jewish people, gay people, and the issue of class as examples. It means that we are required to lift up other people or groups that are not part of our self-identified group. For example, if you are black, you should also welcome into your justice seeking those who are gay or woman. Privilege can be granted to us if we are just all about us as our priority.

An example of something that is addressed by intersectionality was the recent incident where the Head of the NAACP in Philly, Rodney Muhammad, posted an antisemitic image on social media. He was confronted for this by BOTH the black community and the Jewish community with the common language “we are all in this together.”

A biblical verse that speaks to intersectionality is St. Paul’s description of the Christian community. We all need to be lifted up and play a role as he uses the metaphor of the human body to describe the importance of each of our roles in comprising the whole.

“So just as the body is one and has many members, (such as hand, ear, etc.) and all the members of the body, though many, are one body.” (Corinthians 12:12).

This idea of intersectionality plays a role in how we deal with the importance or unimportance of other peoples’ views. I put it in the following words in my recent memoir,” The Times Of My Life”. “We will not major in minor things. We need to be aware of the fact that what is important to one may not be important to another. One of the ways of empowering a relationship is to take seriously what the other person takes seriously, to honor those things that may not be important to us. It is equally important to identify issues that are regarded with mutual importance to be the focus of our communication. Overlooking something that both parties feel is important, while caught in the swamp of the trivial, is unhelpful. I found myself often dealing with a life or death issue with our school community. Soon after, I might be speaking with a student, whose greatest concern would be which college would accept him, whether they would win a tournament or how well they performed on a test. All circumstances are relative, and we should never judge someone’s concerns as more or less important than ours.”

That is intersectionality in relationships. For example, people in the pandemic to be aware of what government should do and the government position should be aware of what the people want. Both views shouldn’t be dismissed by the other. Both groups need to be aware that what is important to the one may not be important to the other. Both groups need to pay attention to this reality and not be dismissive of the other’s views.

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