How are you thinking about and addressing intersectionality, or “overlapping patterns of oppression” (for example, race and gender), in your work/volunteerism/studies in the food system?

Intersectionality refers to the ways race, class, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, ability, status, and other markers of difference intersect and interact to create individual realities and lived experiences. Read this article “Get Intersectional! (Or, Why Your Movement Can’t Go It Alone),” and this blog post by Yasmin Gunaratnam – Intersectional pain: What I’ve learned from hospices and feminism of colour. Consider how you are addressing, or how you might address, intersectionality in your food systems work/volunteerism/studies.

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7 thoughts on “How are you thinking about and addressing intersectionality, or “overlapping patterns of oppression” (for example, race and gender), in your work/volunteerism/studies in the food system?”

  1. I have thought about and discussed issues such as women’s rights, LGBTQ, and racial equity, but I don’t necessarily think about intersectionality. I thought the “Get Intersectional!” article was a very interesting read. It is unacceptable that the1964 lawsuit against General Motors was dismissed due to a loophole in legal protection. Back then, being woman or being black was hard, but being a black woman was even more difficult.

    Having said that, I think being educated in this matter would lead us students to address intersectionality in our work, volunteerism, and studies. I think most people know what is just or unjust, but for some, it depends on what is socially acceptable or what the actual rules and policies are. Some just follow them, but like everything, there are always loopholes. We all just need to be good, decent people! But for some reason, that is easier said than done. How do I address intersectionality? I treat everyone how I would want to be treated, regardless of race, gender, social status…poor, rich, short, or tall. To influence others to do the same and make it the social norm to treat ALL people right, I believe that the most powerful and influential people, such as the government or certain celebrities, should set good examples in addressing intersectionality.

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    1. Jarylle, thanks for weighing in! The role of education is indeed vitally important as we seek to understand and address intersectionality. It’s easy to narrow in on a specific area of interest or discipline. It’s much more complex to try to understand how things are related to and influence one another, yet this is the task before us! Thanks for joining us on the journey.

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  2. Consider how you are addressing, or how you might address, intersectionality in your food systems work/volunteerism/studies.

    The components of intersectionality are distinct and additive- piling up on top of one another as time goes. This topic was mentioned in Intersectional pain: what I’ve learned from hospices and feminism of color by YASMIN GUNARATNAM. This article highlighted the total physical/social pain that comes along with intersectionality. While total pain explains the bodily toll of interlocking injustices, intersectionality focuses on the social complexity of an individual’s suffering. Bringing these two concepts together helps bring to surface the deep-rooted pain of the past that should not be forgotten because they add to the collective pain of the social injustice a present individual may feel. The pain and injustice throughout one’s lifespan may afflict future generations.   The concept of temporal drag really stuck out to me because it is very evident that the past is always tugging on the present. They mentioned the temporal drag of slavery; this pain and grief was in the past but is still in the moment.

    In the Go Intersectional article, intersectionality is explained as a larger pattern: that individuals have multiple identities, and the oppression they experience is the interaction of all those identities. I think this relates to our currents events right now. Women’s rights, minority rights, immigrant rights, are all coming together to rally for justice. This is a great example of intersectionality movement. There need not be just rallies for women, for black women, for minority women, for minorities, all separated. By all working together, these movements reflect how complex our issues are today and how many people are interconnected.

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    1. Thanks, Taylor. The concept of temporal drag really stood out for me as well, and I’ve been thinking a lot about how it could be amplified or reinforced by structural racism and oppression. There does seem to be increasing awareness of how various issues are related, as you mentioned with rallies for justice across areas. Thanks for joining us!

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  3. It is instrumental the effect that hospice care has had on the dying. It helps to provide a more “personalized” care. It helps the person die with dignity, and spend their last days usually at home. It has never occurred to me the amount of social pain as the author describes, comes with the chronic physical pain. Social pain can interplay with injustices regarding race, gender, class etc. There are so many factors that may be playing a role in the individuals social pain, that I wasn’t necessarily always thinking about myself.

    In this sense, there needs to be individuals who are taking all these concepts into consideration with their food systems work. Screening volunteers who can understand the important of these issues, and can demonstrate a culturally competent understanding, and have an open-mind, is essential for the health of our food system.

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  4. So much to say here! Intersectional pain article first. I was new to the concept of social pain as well. Several years back I worked on a study in New Orleans researching the health impact of stress for survivors of Hurricane Katrina. In public health I think the influence of stress and trauma is being explored, rightly so, but I like the term “social pain” to broaden the perspective and as a counterpart to physical pain.

    Get Intersectional! On the national political front, I am frustrated that there is still this false debate between identity politics versus economic justice. We need to do a better job promoting intersectionality and equity as the solutions. I think this could be the path forward that resonates with people struggling across America, from a laid off coal miner to an undocumented house cleaner. It does strike me that the premise of intersectionality is that we are all interconnected – which is I think antithetical to a conservative value of individualism.

    As for my work in food, my organization is entirely set up to be issue-based. We are trying to collaborate better across programs (which work on issues such as housing, youth development, college access) but it is tough. We don’t even always do the more “symbolic and transactional” exercises of attending each other’s events. Perhaps it’s not about individual failures and more because our programs aren’t designed to be intersectional. One thing that has united us is creating a community convening series in the wake of the national election. Finally, my program may be more intersectional than the others. I think this is because food justice lends itself well to intersectionality and I think food movement is doing a better job at talking about how worker, environment, community, and grower issues are all interrelated.

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