So here is my definition: Intersectionality is the belief that one person can have many different identities that don’t exist separately and have an effect on how that person is viewed in society. This theory was first developed by race theorist Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw. Identities could include, but not limited to, race, ethnicity, gender, class, nationality, sexual orientation, and disability.
For example, I am a middle-class, first-generation Jamaican-American, college-educated, black female. All of these identities have an effect on how society views me, for both good and bad. I am using my friend, Janine, who is a working-class, fourth-generation Irish-American, white female with a GED and uses a wheelchair. We both face discrimination for being female; however, because I am also black, I face both racial and gender bias. I am an entrepreneur and live in a house and can afford a better standard of life compared Janine who lives paycheck to paycheck at her office manager job. While being a white female in America still hold high privilege, Janine faces discrimination for her disability.
Believe it or not, Sojourner Truth was the first advocate who articulated intersectionality the best during the 1851 Women’s Convention in Ohio:
Well, children, where there is so much racket there must be something out of kilter. I think that ‘twixt the negroes of the South and the women at the North, all talking about rights, the white men will be in a fix pretty soon. But what’s all this here talking about?
That man over there says that women need to be helped into carriages, and lifted over ditches, and to have the best place everywhere. Nobody ever helps me into carriages, or over mud-puddles, or gives me any best place! And ain’t I a woman? Look at me! Look at my arm! I have ploughed and planted, and gathered into barns, and no man could head me! And ain’t I a woman? I could work as much and eat as much as a man – when I could get it – and bear the lash as well! And ain’t I a woman? I have borne thirteen children, and seen most all sold off to slavery, and when I cried out with my mother’s grief, none but Jesus heard me! And ain’t I a woman?
Then they talk about this thing in the head; what’s this they call it? [member of audience whispers, “intellect”] That’s it, honey. What’s that got to do with women’s rights or negroes’ rights? If my cup won’t hold but a pint, and yours holds a quart, wouldn’t you be mean not to let me have my little half measure full?
Then that little man in black there, he says women can’t have as much rights as men, ’cause Christ wasn’t a woman! Where did your Christ come from? Where did your Christ come from? From God and a woman! Man had nothing to do with Him.
If the first woman God ever made was strong enough to turn the world upside down all alone, these women together ought to be able to turn it back , and get it right side up again! And now they is asking to do it, the men better let them.
Obliged to you for hearing me, and now old Sojourner ain’t got nothing more to say.
Sojourner Truth was the truth!
This is a very complex discussion. So here is a video of Crenshaw discussing intersectionality.