intersections

In relation to yesterday’s post, here and here are the other posts I’ve written about race-related stress and racial trauma. As an added caveat, I think it’s important to remember that the presence of trauma of any kind does not reduce a person’s situation to the oppressor/victim dichotomy our polarized society is so fond of. As I wrote yesterday, there are areas in which I maintain privilege (able-bodiedness, American citizenship, and college-educated status to name a few) that simultaneously interact with the social identities that may undermine my opportunities (i.e. being a woman of color). This intersectionality present in our stories reminds us that each of us has responsibilities to lift up those outside of the communities we either identify with or have been ascribed to.

My nation contains institutions and modes of interaction that do oppress me (examine definitions of “oppression” here), but I don’t view myself solely through the lens of victimhood. Those experiencing suffering directly related to any axis of identity have always had agency–they have never been voiceless. They are limited, yes, by political and social systems that position them with lesser power, but they are the experts of their struggles and the ones with the greatest capacity to guide others in demolishing that which weighs upon them. When you stand at the intersections, model the willingness to submit to the authority of those voices that speak to experiences you have never known. The call to action begins with the invitation to listen.

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