This has been a difficult time, and many of us have been reflecting on why we do our work, what drives us, and what inspires us.
In 1989 Kimberlé Crenshaw coined the term intersectionality. And although these days it has become a bit of a buzzword, it is still the concept that helps me best articulate why I do my work, and more specifically, why I do my work the WAY I do.
Often, when we hear the word intersectional, it’s to explain how we talk about someone who has multiple underrepresented identities together. For instance, a white lesbian woman experiences both heterosexism as well as sexism. A Black disabled man experiences both racism and ableism. A young Latina transgender woman experiences ageism, racism, cissexism and transphobia.
But my interest in intersectionality is not just the fact that we experience oppressions but the way we experience these multiple oppressions. Because we experience multiple oppressions simultaneously, it creates greater barriers to access. NCLR was started because the needs of lesbians were not addressed by the larger LGBTQ movement or the larger women’s rights movement. And because of this history, we continue to see the work of NCLR is to ensure that ALL of the LGBTQ community is represented and supported. For instance, many know that women make 79% of what men make, Black women make 62%, and Latina women make 54%. But did you know that people with disabilities make 37% less than people without disabilities? Or that 1 in 5 LGBTQ people live in poverty (21.6%) compared to 15.7% of poverty than their straight, cis peers? What these statistics don’t tell us is what happens at the margins – how people exist in each of these communities. As a result, for example, it is very much our job to highlight the unique experiences and stories and challenges of economic power of LGBTQ people of color with disabilities.
In order to do our work effectively, we have to make sure that we are seeing our communities fully.
Over the next few months we will be hosting a series of justice panels to hear about how the support systems in place honor our identities, and how and why they don’t always hit the mark. This year marks the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and as Disability Awareness month comes to a close, we want to examine the impact of the ADA and where we need to move in the future.
This week, I want to invite you to join us on Thursday, October 30th for our panel: 30 Years After the ADA: An Intersectional Look at What We’ve Done, and Where We Still Need to Go. We’ll be discussing the intersection of disability, sexual orientation, gender identity and how we move through the world. We’ll be joined by a fabulous set of panelists who you can learn about here. I hope to see you all there.
Lastly, I know many of you have seen our new campaign: Protecting our Future. If you haven’t seen it, please check it out. We center our work through: Access, Systemic Change, and Lived Equality. When we think of protecting our future, this is how we want to approach it.
Wishing you all a fabulous week, take good care.