Introduction

Intersectionality of privilege example

Let's start with a disclaimer: I am in no way an expert on the struggles faced by minorities. My degrees are in English and Psychology- and both of them bachelor's. This does not make me an expert in either field. I am going to do my best to compile information about these sensitive topics as best as I can, but I am aware, and hope you are understanding, of the fact that my research can only go so far. It is no replacement for living through the trials I will be discussing- and the struggles faced by minorities simply because of who they are should not be experienced by anyone. I stand with those who are oppressed, and will do my best to advocate for your rights whenever and however I can.

I am going to be discussing a myriad of things in the coming series. Technical definitions, what these things may mean outside of the textbook, and hopefully, what some people who are personally impacted by these issues have to say on the topics. To round it all up, I will be including sources for your perusal, and it is my hope to gather some places where you can can continue your own research and find sensitivity readers. Some of the content I discuss may be triggering for you. Please know that it is not my intention to bring up unpleasant memories for anyone, but merely to compile a list of information and resources that can be used by aspiring writers to improve their representation in creative works.

Race

Religion

Gender

A lot of what I will be talking about can be subjective for each person, depending on their experience. This is something that one of my psychology classes described as an intersectionality of privilege. The idea was first put forth by Kimberle Crenshaw in 1989, and basically states that each person experiences an advantage or disadvantage in many ways over others, depending on what groups they fit into within society. These groups which they belong to come together in that person's unique privilege intersection. For example, a white, trans, straight man has a different intersectionality than a black, cis gendered, Muslim woman. The issues faced by different groups may come together in certain ways depending on the sum of the groups a person belongs to, which impact the experiences each person has throughout their life.

There are many different types of privilege that can impact a person's life. I've listed a few below, but I am quite sure there are some I missed. Please feel free to inform me if I didn't mention something. I would love to add it to the list of topics to cover in this series.

 

Privilege types:

  • Ability

    • For the purposes of this introduction, I am going to broadly lump physical and mental abilities together. However they are two different things, though some people may experience both at the same time. I will absolutely devote time to each individually. For now, just know that this refers to whether society is geared in such a way that you have what you need to function on a day to day basis without difficulty. This can be anywhere from wheelchair accessibility to allowing extra time and other school accommodations for children with learning disabilities. ​

  • Sexual/Romantic Attraction 

    • There are many different types of sexual and romantic attractions, which can also exist on a scale of how much attraction a person feels. (More on that later.) The LGBTQA+ spectrum is wide and diverse, and each category holds its own perception in the public eye, affecting how individuals are treated.

  • Gender/Sex

    • Were you born in the right body? Congrats if you were. Many people were not, and there are some people who were born with the parts of both "sexes" who may define as one, the other, genderfluid, genderneutral, etc.​ The feeling of being stuck in the wrong body can cause dysphoria for some people, which can be intensely traumatic. This is something that I very well may put in with the LGBTQA+ series, as trans individuals are a part of the LGBTQA+ community.

  • Religion

    • This is something I will be looking at from a uniquely American viewpoint. Despite amendments to our constitution proclaiming a separation of church and state, American politics, and society as a whole, are widely influenced by the Christian faith. As such, our society is geared to recognize Christian beliefs over those of other religions. This can be as subtle as only giving school breaks for Christian holidays to outright hostility to those of a different faith.

  • Race

    • There are many skin tones throughout the world. This is a biological factor determined by melatonin​, and yet it seems far too often to be the deciding factor in how a person is treated their entire lives. For centuries there have been discrimination and crimes against those of other races, whether the other group is hispanic/latino, black, Chinese, Korean, Indian, Native American, etc. The human race is a greatly diverse people, and it is time we learn to recognize, accept, and celebrate the differences between us without appropriating the customs of other cultures.

  • Class

    • Many people think of class differences as represented in romantic plots- person A is from a wealthy family, person B is from a family that is barely scraping by. Person B may even work for person A's family. The two inevitably fall in love and must surpass the struggles thrown their way by those who feel people of two such opposing statuses shouldn't be together. While this has certainly been the case, class differences can be far more subtle. They can be seen in how one child may get a stack of presents for Christmas while his friend around the block only gets one item. When a family is struggling financially, children can't help but be aware of it. It is something ingrained in them from a young age, and it has a marked affect on them and how they see the world.

Estrada, M.J. (2019, December 9). Stereotypes and Feminism [Lecture notes, Powerpoint slides].

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