author – activist – faculty – mom
Do you know how some comments stay with you? Maybe a decade ago, writer/activist Aurora Levins Morales mentioned in passing something she was thinking about: the dynamic interaction between different forms of oppression.
I am a deep believer in Kimberle Crenshaw’s ideas about intersectionality. Aurora had some important thinking to add to the theory. When it comes to racism and sexism, for example, for women of color live at what can be called an intersection of racism and sexism , while white women are only affected by sexism and men of color are only affected by racism (of course this is simply with a focus on these two oppressions, things shake down differently if we talk about class, ability, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, etc.) However, Aurora wasn’t talking about how individuals experience the oppression, she was talking about how the patterns and institutions of oppression actually developed. She used the term “co-evolve” to describe how dynamics of oppression that target different groups in society are developing and changing over time, and are mutually influential forces. They co-evolve. So not only do they intersect, they are often interdependent. So, for example, throughout US history, the legacies of racism and sexism have been mutually influencing each other from the founding of our nation.