Intersectionality: An analytical tool for addressing inequity
At UCB, we not only believe in the power of our dreams and our imagination but also in connecting outside our company to really open our horizons. After all, continuous learning gives us food for thought to imagine a better and more sustainable tomorrow.
Our inspirational #imagine webinars aim to do just that. We invite thought leaders to join us to stimulate our curiosity and help us see the world with new eyes. Their talks help us step back and reflect on challenges and opportunities the world is facing right now.
We kicked off our 2021 #imagine webinars by welcoming Professor Nancy López, sociologist and expert in intersectionality. Her What’s your street race? talk reflected on intersectionality as a tool for practicing critical race, gender and class equity – a topic that could not be more timely, that came shortly after Martin Luther King Day.
Professor López began by inviting us to think about street race, a concept she came up with to reflect the social meanings assigned to you based on what you look like. “It’s also a relationship of power and changes depending on which country you’re in,” she explained, noting how these meanings assigned to you shape your experiences: your access s to healthcare, housing and even voting rights.
Highlighting how “we didn't create systems of racism, but we're all located in them”, the Professor pointed out the importance of understanding the historical context of our street race. Only then, she said, can we assess critically to “create a more just world anchored in human rights, not only for ourselves but also for our children”.
Exploring at how we do that, Professor López revealed that ignorant or insulting opinions can offer an opportunity for deeper conversation and reflection. She highlighted the importance of building these conversations around narratives “anchored in your experience” that at the same time “shift and create bridges of understanding for others who are different from us”.
Moving onto discussing intersectionality, Professor López described it as an analytical tool to help people understand “complexity in the world, in people, in human experiences”. It is, she said, “a new vision for illuminating inequalities and creating custom tailored solutions”. In other words, it helps us solve problems by unpacking the intersecting systems of inequality and arrangements of power.
Intersectionality can, she revealed, help us “understand how others are experiencing barriers that might be invisible to us”. Explaining that equity is about providing whatever is necessary to create fairness, Professor López noted how treating everyone the same (in other word creating equality) might not reach individuals experiencing inequities before also describing liberation.
She said that to provide the equity lifts needed we should not only work with the people impacted the most but also with “those advocates who've been working for a long time to solve these problems”.
Dr López concluded her talk with a very powerful message: “We are all different, have different histories, different cultures, speak different languages, but if we work in a spirit of human rights and solidarity, there's nothing we can't accomplish”.
During the webinar we asked our audience to reflect on what they would do within their spheres of influence to advance intersectional justice. They built this word cloud
Please watch the full webinar recording to learn more. And why not get in touch if you would like to share your own thoughts or just have a chat about intersectionality and what it means to you.