How Do You Practice Intersectionalism? An Interview with bell hooks | Common Struggle / Lucha Común

this is a very thoughtful and thought provoking interview with bell hooks. randy lowens met with her in 2009 and this interview was reposted in his honor. read, think, marvel, and change.

Illustration by Bree Johnson

Randy: You’re known, especially within our circles, for popularizing intersectional theory as opposed to reductionisms. Can you say a little bit about how intersectional theory plays out in practice? That is to say, your typical class reductionist at least has a priority; a Black Nationalist has something to prioritize. How do you practice intersectionalism?

hooks: Intersectionality allow us to focus on what is most important at a given point in time. I used to say to people, if you’re in a domestic situation where the man is violent, patriarchy and male domination—even though you understand it intersectionally—you focus, you highlight that dimension of it, if that’s what is needed to change the situation. I think that, again, if we move away from either/or thinking, and if we think, okay, every day of my life that I walk out of my house I am a combination of race, gender, class, sexual preference and religion or what have you, what gets foregrounded? I think it’s crazy for us to think that people don’t understand what’s being foregrounded in their lives at a given point in time. Like right now, for many Americans, class is being foregrounded like never before because of the economic situation. It doesn’t mean that race doesn’t matter, or gender doesn’t matter, but it means that right now in many people’s lives, in the lives of my own family members, people are losing jobs, insurance. I was teasing my brother that he was penniless, homeless, jobless. Right now in his life, racism isn’t the central highlighting force: it’s the world of work and economics. It doesn’t mean that he isn’t influenced by racism, but when he wakes up in the morning the thing that’s driving his world is really issues of class, economics and power as they articulate themselves. I guess I wish we could talk about: what does it mean to have a politics of intersectionality that also privileges what form of domination is most oppressing us at a given moment in time.

via How Do You Practice Intersectionalism? An Interview with bell hooks | Common Struggle / Lucha Común.


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