Roots of Justice (an anti-oppression training organization I have the privilege of working with) was invited to the Wild Goose Festival to offer a couple of workshops on intersectionality, an approach to understanding the way oppressions interlock and reinforce each other. Understanding intersectionality is important because it underlies unjust realities faced by people experiencing oppression on more than one front; also, coalitions can use that understanding to more realistically and effectively address the injustices and violence people face as a result of those interlocking oppressions.
We found people who were hungry for a deeper understanding of these ideas, and how intersectionality underlies the work for justice toward liberation. Building on our own experiences as well as case studies of such coalitions as the Moral Monday movement in North Carolina and southern freedom organizations like S.O.N.G., we helped participants to explore their own contexts, identify opportunities for more intersectional work, and explore how the work of those who have gone before us can illuminate our own challenges. In the first workshop we explored how each of us experiences a variety of social locations, some that empower us and some that disempower us, but all of which offer points of connection and potential for relationship and justice work. In the second workshop, we went deeper into our own settings and talked about the power of visibility, spirituality, the friendship paradox, and other aspects of intersectional work.
No single injustice can be undone in isolation; we all have much to learn from our foremothers in the struggle — the Combahee River Collective including Barbara Smith and Audre Lorde, Gloria Anzaldúa, Maya Angelou, Kimberlé Crenshaw, Patricia Hill Collins, Chela Sandoval, Andrea Smith, Kwok Pui Lan — whose collective and collaborative struggles have left wisdom for us in their wake. I’m so grateful, too, to the trainers of Roots of Justice, especially Regina Shands Stoltzfus and Conrad Moore, with whom I had the chance to work this week.
Here are a few images from the time we spent together. May strong shoots of action and friendship grow from these roots. And please know that we’d be happy to talk with you about what’s happening in your organization … and if you’d like to organize an intersectional workshop, please contact Phil Morice Brubaker at <firstname.lastname@example.org>.