Dismantling Systemic White Supremacy

By Sharon Dittmar

Sharon Dittmar in hat, wearing rose

Please note we changed our theme. Here is our apology.

“Intersectionality” is a word I often see these days. In fact, “Intersectionalities” is the title of our April 2019 Regional Assembly in St. Louis, MO. The theory and word were added to feminist theory in 1989 by Professor Kimberlé Crenshaw, civil rights activist, academic, lawyer, and critical race theorist.

Some people mistakenly believe that “intersectionality” only refers to the intersection of the multiple identities that every person carries. According to Crenshaw, this is an incomplete understanding of her theory which instead addresses how specific identities compound to disempower people due to accepted (and often unseen) systems of power at work in society. When Crenshaw introduced the term, she had in mind black women who are often disproportionally underemployed, underpaid, abused, silenced and discriminated against in a variety of ways that society condones and then ignores (and at higher rates than their white female peers or black male peers).

Crenshaw is an exceptional speaker and teacher. If you are interested in learning more about “intersectionality,” watch Crenshaw’s Keynote Address to the Women of the World Festival in 2016. Many thanks to Reverend Jennifer Nordstrom, who suggests the video in her essay in the UUA Common Read, Justice on Earth: People of Faith Working at the Intersections of Race, Class, and the Environment.

Professor Kimberlé Crenshaw’s Keynote Address to the Women of the World Festival in 2016

About the Author

Sharon Dittmar

Reverend Dittmar graduated from Harvard Divinity School in 1997. She served one year as Interim Minister at the Gathering at Northern Hills (Cincinnati, OH 1997-1998), and eighteen years as Minister at First Unitarian Church of Cincinnati (1998-2016). In 2016 she began work as Congregational Life...

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