June 19, 2020

Day 5: Intersectionality

DAY 5 Of YWCA Spokane’s 14-Day Racial Equity & Social Justice Challenge

We hope this challenge provides you with an opportunity to better understand concepts related to race, power, privilege, and leadership.

DAY 1 | DAY 2 | DAY 3 | DAY 4 | DAY 5 | DAY 6 | DAY 7 | DAY 8 | DAY 9 | DAY 10 | DAY 11 | DAY 12 | DAY 13 | DAY 14

Thank you for taking this challenge! If this is your first day of joining us for the 14-day equity challenge, welcome. If you are returning after previous engagement with the challenge, nice work! We are glad you are here. From Monday, June 15th through Sunday, June 28th, YWCA Spokane will send, those who sign up for our challenge, daily emails prompting you to take time to learn about racial equity and social justice.

We encourage you to take note of any insights in a daily log or diary. Consider setting aside time to talk with friends about what you have learned and how the topics introduced impact our community. Invite your network to join you on this challenge and share on social media with #ywcaequitychallenge. Thank you for participating!

DAY 5: intersectionality

Our challenge today is to explore intersectionality and how it is used as a valuable framework for exploring the human experiences of individuals, groups, and communities. 

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, Intersectionality is the complex, cumulative way in which the effects of multiple forms of discrimination (such as racism, sexism, and classism) combine, overlap, or intersect especially in the experiences of marginalized individuals or groups. 

Kimberlé Crenshaw, an American lawyer, civil rights advocate, philosopher, and a leading scholar of critical race theory, introduced the theory of intersectionality, in 1989, in order to conceptualize and explain the oppression of African-American women through the compounded discrimination experienced as a group belonging to two marginalized communities.

Each of us has aspects of our identities that inform the creation of our experience. Social identities based on groups, such as race, gender, sexual orientation, disability status, nationality, religion, and class, are some of the most influential factors that weave together to impact a person’s life. 

Intersectionality takes into account the impact of our overlapping and intersecting social identities, and acknowledges the compounding nature of oppression that occurs when an individual or group experiences multiple marginalized social identities. For instance, intersectionality brings to light the differences in experience between white women and women of color, and challenges us to examine these differences as the result of systematic oppression. 

The framework of intersectionality is critical to social justice work and the fostering of an equitable society. By looking through the lens of intersectionality we are able to broaden our perspectives, acknowledge experiences outside our own, and invite the reality that our individual points of view are inherently impacted by our social identities.

If you have…

10 Minutes


15-20 Minutes


1 Hour

and and
Read this blog post 
from YWCA Boston that briefly describes intersectionality and concrete ways we can address it in our daily lives.
and Watch this TED Talk 
from Kimberly Crenshaw, where she discusses intersectionality and violence against black women. (Content warning: discussion and graphic images of police brutality).
and Listen to this podcast
from Crenshaw and other speakers about how COVID is revealing intersectional vulnerabilities and gaps in our systems.

BONUS: Here is a 3 minutes, student-friendly video that breaks down intersectionality.

Daily Reflection

Once you have completed today’s challenge, take a moment to reflect on any insights you experienced. How did the challenge make you feel? What is something you learned? Did you notice anything about yourself after taking the challenge? Consider sharing this new awareness with a friend or group to help deepen your understanding of the information. Consider tracking your reflections on the below daily log or start an online group with friends to encourage daily sharing with each other about the challenge topics.

Challenge Reflection Log

Share each challenge online with #YWCAEquityChallenge

DAY 1 | DAY 2 | DAY 3 | DAY 4 | DAY 5 | DAY 6 | DAY 7 | DAY 8 | DAY 9 | DAY 10 | DAY 11 | DAY 12 | DAY 13 | DAY 14

Do you have resources you think we should share? Any insights you would like to share with us? We welcome you to share by leaving your comments here. Thank you!

By: Rachel Dannen

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