I am a person with multiple identities. A queer, Haitian young woman who falls under middle class on the American economic class system. In addition to middle class, this system comprises of poor, lower-middle class, upper middle class, and wealthy.
Despite the challenges and disadvantages of my narrative, I am 100% proud of who I am. Even though I have multiple marginalized identities, I can’t help but to feel privileged and conscious of the experiences of other marginalized identities.
When thinking of intersectionality, think about your identities that intersect. We are not just one, but a multitude of different identities that form who we are as individuals. In this case, these are the identities that are marginalized in society.
Think race/ethnicity, economic class, gender identity and most commonly omitted, disability. It’s no secret that black people are the most discriminated people in America. But as people overall, I think we tend to focus and only prioritize our disadvantaged narratives over others.
But if there’s anything that I’ve learned over the past year, it is that we all experience radically different narratives.
We unfortunately live in a world where minorities are systematically oppressed – culturally, personally and institutionally. Race has played a major role in many black and colored lives including mine when dealing with discrimination.
I think it’s especially important that we recognize the intersections of race and class. Classism is discrimination or prejudice behavior on the basis of social class. It is often with policies designed to favor the upper class/wealthy individuals at the expense of individuals in the lower class.
My mom is a single parent – she alone was the person supporting me financially from Pre-K up until college. Although there were very difficult times, I was fortunate enough to not have to drop out of school to assist her with finances. Even when things were really bad, I had family as a form of support. I am privileged in this sense.
The disparities among African Americans and people of Latin descent are widening when it comes to education in lower income neighborhoods compared to their white upper class peers.
Parents in these neighborhoods have to make a choice whether to send their child to college and take on additional debt or having the child contribute to avoid accruing debt. Either way, the child loses the opportunity for social development because of their or their parents burdens.
In addition, many colored students attending schools in these areas often are given inexperienced teachers, limited resources, and lack of opportunities for growth and mentorship. Further, students who were able to attend colleges and universities outside of their neighborhoods experience difficulty adapting to the culture of the campus and curriculum.
They are susceptible to experiencing high levels of psychological pressures from being a student of color when challenged with micro aggressive comments and racial biases from their white peers.
Black and colored people in lower income neighborhoods have also been susceptible to discrimination when it comes to home ownership (redlining), government assistance, and the labor market. There are algorithms literally created to prevent people of Latin descent and African Americans from getting ahead in the economy.
As a result it becomes a cycle of poverty, either staying in the same poor neighborhood or landing in prison – a confinement center specifically designed for black and colored people as a form of control.
When talking about gender, transgender women and non-binary individuals are rarely represented. There aren’t enough diverse and inclusive programs/organizations that speak on the issues being faced in the trans community.
In 2019 alone, twelve black transgender women were killed as a result of hate crimes; and that’s just the ones reported. In addition, individuals in these groups are also marginalized because of the language barrier when identifying an individual, and the unknown language for those we have yet to learn.
Further, women in general experience the disparities between their male counterparts, especially when discussing the gender wage gap. Women don’t make nearly the same as their male colleagues – given the same or higher education level and years of experience.
However, this disparity specifically marginalizes black and colored women. We only make 63 cents for every dollar a white man makes; whereas the white woman makes about 80 cents for every dollar a white man makes.
Black Women’s Equal Pay Day shows that we have to wait an additional 200 days to make what our white colleagues earned the year before.
Additionally, many black women are hesitant to be assertive when it comes to this issue because of the narrative that we already have as being difficult, aggressive, or too much.
Part of the problem lies with the biases and stereotypes that are presented to African American women. Black women pursue higher educational degrees compared to any other race, work tirelessly in their industries, and are more frequently pursuing entrepreneurship than any other group.
The most difficult thing to process about this issue is that black women are acknowledged for their career success, capabilities, and skills – but still won’t be paid their worth.
Individuals who have physical or mental disabilities face a multitude of disadvantages. A few include social acceptance and how they’re perceived, discrimination for being disabled (how does that even work?), stereotypes leading to believe that people with disabilities have a poor quality of life and are unhealthy, and just choosing what kind of disability is acceptable over another.
Further, people of color who are disabled are even more disadvantaged (shocker). They often don’t get the best form of healthcare treatment, lack of quality education, and trouble with finding employment and housing. Employers also believe that hiring a person (of color) who is disabled can cause more accidents in the workplace and lowers levels of productivity. Further, the cost to accommodate a person who is disabled is extremely high – an expense that most aren’t willing to spend.
The purpose of intersectionality was to identify forms of discrimination that coexist with marginalized identities and how we can learn to understand each of our personal experiences, and work together to end systematic oppression. However, I found myself getting frustrated as I made it towards the end of this post.
The sole purpose of this topic was to acknowledge the discriminatory experiences of people with different identities than myself (disabilities, different gender identity, the issues of gender in the workplace and society).
But, each topic I spoke about clarified how much more disadvantaged black and Latino/as were BECAUSE of our skin color alone. I realized that we can have any of these identities, but having a black one on top of it all just makes it more racially alarming.
Nonetheless, I think it’s still important that we realize our privilege – however that may look. For me, it’s acknowledging that I can walk without difficulty compared to someone with a physical disability. It’s being able to hear and talk clearly without having to rely on speech to text functions or a hearing aid.
It’s also not being forced to come out because of how I express my gender, or how easily it is for me to walk into a female restroom without having to be questioned about whether I belong there.
My privilege stops when I am the minority in the room, but it begins in every other aspect of my life. For that, I am fortunate.