This is just a quick note. One that might help me reflect at a later date.
This past weekend I facilitated a panel discussion on intersectionality and inclusivity. I was blessed with the opportunity to work with three really amazing panelists:
- One cis-woman originally from the Philippines, raised in Chicago and now based in London. She confronts tough subjects head on and with a level of straightforwardness that I rarely encounter and continually yearn for. She is a filmmaker and journalists and uses her different channels and mediums to give the so-called minority more visibility.
- One mixed-race cis-man who identifies as queer, born and raised in the UK to a white British mother and Moroccan father. He runs events and a pub that are all diverse, and some specifically queer.
- One white non-cis-man (who doesn’t identify as trans*, rather as a man) who earned the first university degree in his family and makes conscious choices in everyday life situations.
I began the discussion by explaining the origins of the term intersectionality. What many people seem to forget is that Kimberlé Crenshaw did frame her ground-breaking paper from 1989 as the perspective of a Black feminist woman, but she also introduced the significance of inclusivity in that paper. Further, she did not limit her arguments to race and gender. She extended them to class, sexual preference, and (dis-)ability. All of this in 1989.
Holding such a panel in a very white setting was a challenge, but the audience listened and was open and there to learn. At the same time I was very clear with my panelists that they were not there to educate. They were there to have a public discussion about their own personal experiences. And that’s exactly what we did. We touched on subjects of racism, sexism, classism, ableism, homo- and transphobia and so forth. Genuinely, authentically, unapologetically.
Of course the question often arises why I do what I do. Many Blacks and POCs feel the need to remind me that it is not my obligation to educate the ignorant. I know that and really don’t need reminding of it. I also don’t see the many things that I do as following one purpose of educating ignorant people. I do what I do because I can. Up until now I have been blessed with the capacity, tenacity and endurance to have these discussions. And after each such event I receive feedback from at least one person that it has moved them towards a place of reflection or change. Sometimes those people are Black or POC. And sometimes those people are white. Either way I find it rewarding. If I have been able to give a Black or POC person something that positively reinforces their life experience, then I have positively contributed to the revolution. And if one of my events leads a white person to acting less oppressively, then I have perhaps prevented a future trauma, large or small, in someone else’s life. The same goes for people ignorant to sexual preference, patriarchy, and so forth. That notion alone fuels my energy to keep going.
The panel was an amazing experience for me to connect with all three of these beautiful people, and I somehow feel like I’ve made new friends that will accompany me a lifetime.