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  • Writer's pictureTeesha Aurora


When we have conversations about racism, sexism and classism, we think of all of them as separate issues. What we fail to acknowledge is how some people are subject to all of these. The oppression they face is greater than the sum of the individual inequalities they are subjected to.

All oppression is linked. Inequalities of gender, sexual orientation, race, caste, and class operate together, and exacerbate each other, creating a highly complex and intensified convergence of oppression which magnify pre-existing needs of food, housing, and education.

Intersectionality is the lens through which we can understand the unique nature of prejudices a person faces due to their overlapping identities and experiences. In the image, every point at which different circles intersect reflect intersectionality, and the intersection of all the circles reflects the most marginalized people in our society.

Without an intersectional lens, our efforts to combat inequality will perpetuate more inequality. A black woman experiences misogyny and racism, but the way she experiences it will differ from the way a white woman or a black man would experience it. Black and Latina trans women are victims of homicide at much higher rates than white cisgender women or Black or Latina cisgender women.

Intersectionality erroneously faces criticism for trying to make the world an inverted image of what it is now-to change the power dynamics to bring the white straight male to the bottom of the social ladder. However, it is NOT an attempt to replicate existing power structures to give people of colour more power than white people. It attempts to understand the varied nature of oppression we face and remove the structures that enable that oppression in the first place.

Crises like the pandemic reflect the inequalities that shape our lives. They uniquely provide us with opportunities to redefine our ‘normal’. Taking an intersectional approach to crises helps us come back stronger, better and equal.

What can you do? Check your privilege. Middle class? Cis-gendered? Able-bodied? Recognize that you have privilege even if you didn't ask for it. Listen and learn from diverse groups of people. Honour what they say. Do your research. Don't speak for and over people for the discrimination they face. See if the words you are using are ableist, exclusionary and offensive. Accept criticism and call others out. Nobody’s free until everybody’s free.

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