In a Ted Talk I watched recently, Kimberlé Crenshaw’s The urgency of intersectionality, Crenshaw caught my interest by talking about a type of bias that is notably not talked about, yet quite dangerous and telling. Crenshaw coined a term, intersectionality, to describe the process of looking at what happens at the intersection when an individual is subjected to the biases of more than one marginalized characteristic at once (a person who is black and gay, for instance).
Crenshaw illustrates the concept of intersectionality by describing just that – an intersection.
An intersection where the biases that come against us (in hiring, and other forms of exclusion) work simultaneously and become doubly effective.
When we have more working against us in terms of bias-driven prejudice, we are statistically less likely to get that job or that promotion, or even that respect.
Crenshaw reiterates a certain point throughout the talk: When you can’t see a problem, you can’t solve it. She uses black women as an example of a population of people whose stories of mistreatment are more likely to fall through the cracks, compared to their white female and black male counterparts.
Crenshaw uses the word prism to describe the multi-angled lens through which we should view such complex issues.
To consider a complex phenomenon,
we should use a complex lens.
What does your lens look like?
Kimberlé Crenshaw’s The urgency of intersectionality