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Crenshaw and Intersectionality

Intersectionality is the main focal point of Mapping the Margins by Kimberle Crenshaw. Prior to being assigned this piece, I had never heard that term before. I learned the definition of intersectionality is essentially a combination of multiple types of discrimination at once. In Crenshaw’s example, she focuses on violence of women of color, a combination of race and gender oppression. When I came across this, I immediately though of To Kill a Mockingbird. The events that take place in this novel can relate back to Crenshaw’s discussion of race and gender oppression, because this also takes place in Tom’s Life. Crenshaw was discussing the discrimination of women of color, and in Tom’s life we take a look at discrimination of men of color. Not only is Tom wrongfully accused and sentenced to death for raping a white woman, but he is also discriminated because of his gender. The court decision that Tom was guilty mainly rested on the fact that he was black, but the court room also believed that black MEN were savage and sexual predators who were always on the lookout for white women to sexually assault. The discrimination of race and gender intersects – the prejudice that one race is superior to another, and the prejudice that every black man is looking to assault a woman.

2 thoughts on “Crenshaw and Intersectionality”

  1. This is an interesting post in that it deals with the other end of the crimes that Crenshaw discusses. The idea that being black and male, not just one or the other, was and even still is an indicator of the result of what is supposed to be a ‘fair’ trial. Intersectionality is certainly relevant to both Lee’s and Crenshaw’s pieces, respectively. You did well in speaking to both.


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  2. Nice connection, Alli. I’d push you to think a bit more about how this connection might get more complicated and interesting when we consider Crenshaw’s critique of the way in which the fate of Black men in anti-racist conversations often overshadows the fate of Black women. Where are Black women in To Kill a Mockingbird, especially the part of the novel that revolves around Tom’s trial?


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