It's ALL Connected
DAY 13: Intersectional Justice Making
When I was a little girl I wanted to save the planet. At four years old my concept of saving the planet involved recycling, stopping pollution by singing songs about how much I loved the earth, and being really nice to animals.
Sixteen years later, as a college student, I still recycled and brought re-usable bags to the store, but I had become much more interested in other justice issues, issues that I thought were completely separate from those hippie-dippy tree-hugging concerns. I was learning about institutional racism and western hegemony, and these problems seemed to have nothing to do with my naïve ideas about saving the planet.
Then one day, I learned about a little concept called “environmental justice.” The idea is simple and pretty obvious: low-income and marginalized communities are more likely to face negative effects of pollution and environmental degradation than high-income and privileged communities. Still, it was mind-blowing for me as a young white middle-class person who was just coming to understand different forms of systemic oppression. Working to end racism and working to end the destruction of the earth were not separate concerns, as I had previously believed…
In fact, it’s all connected! Patriarchy, capitalism, western cultural hegemony, homophobia, misogyny, racism, transphobia, xenophobia, classism… the list could go on and on. Not only do these types of oppression reinforce each other, but they multiply so those with the least privilege face many issues at once.
For example, let’s say you are an undocumented immigrant who does not have access to health care due to your low-income, language and cultural barriers, and fear of deportation. So you don’t have regular pap-smears and end up developing cervical cancer that could have been prevented. In this case, racism, xenophobia and classism end up making it much more difficult to access reproductive health care, which is already difficult in this society because of sexism and patriarchy. You can learn more about immigration reform as a matter of reproductive justice, by reading this information from The National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health.
It can be depressing to realize how related different forms of oppression are, and how impossible it is to focus on one problem without considering others. But there is good news too! The good news is that WE are all connected.
Unitarian Universalists affirm and promote respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part. Our very lives are linked; we depend on one another and on all of creation. When we lean into that sense of connection we find common dreams and shared goals. For example, when those who work for immigration reform and those who work for reproductive justice realize their causes are connected, they can join forces like the folks at We Belong Together.
This world, for better or worse, is complex and full of interconnection. So it’s up to us to use our connections to tackle each of these interrelated problems, working side by side with others who carry different identities and needs but share our goals. When we work together, at those sites of intersection, we are truly harnessing the power of love to stop oppression.