March Post: Still more post-march thoughts (intersectionality & moral matters)

It’s 2 months to the day since the Women’s March on Washington, and last night I had (another) political stress dream – in this one I was trying to persuade folks back home to perceive the importance of the March, and especially to convince them of the validity of Christians participating in it. Home in this context being a beautiful, rural county that I’d characterize as mostly white and majority-conservative, with community members both atheist and religious (mostly Catholic, Mennonite, or Evangelical Protestant).

I’m guessing this dream (not the first of its kind for me) was prompted in part this time by reading the following from the Letters & Comments section of the March 13th issue of the Mennonite World Review:

MWR indeed presents a wide variety of opinion, but we will not renew our subscription. We are choosing not to waste time reading so many radical views. To have the name ‘Mennonite’ given such prominence in the women’s march in Washington (Jan. 30) is a disgrace to the God who ordained marriage and life…”


{Short version of my response to the above: This assumes there is only ONE way of thinking “Christianly,” or even from within a Menno framework, about those worn-out, hot-button, go-to issues (i.e., abortion & gay marriage) of the so-called culture wars that, frankly, I believe have done way more harm than they’ve ever accomplished anything good. It also assumes that those were the ONLY issues of concern for marchers.

Most flippant, shortest version of my response: Fine. You’re entitled to your opinion, whatever. The work for social transformation & pursuing justice is going to continue with or without you, so I’ll just be getting on with my own work now…

Longer version-wise: I presume I already attempted explaining that in my dream; it was stressful & didn’t go over well, so I don’t think I’ll repeat the experiment here just now.}

Anyhoo, back to the WMW itself and a related thought – the one I actually started this post with the intention of giving prominence to: intersectionality. It’s another one of those buzz words, getting a good deal of attention these days (especially in progressive circles), but/and I think an important one. Certainly names a hugely important concept (and “when there’s no name for a problem, you can’t see a problem, and when you can’t see a problem, you pretty much can’t solve it” – Crenshaw in the TED below). I first consciously noticed this word on signs at the WMW, so it seems to me appropriate to share here this phenomenal TED talk by the woman who coined the term “intersectionality,” Kimberlé Crenshaw:

I just watched it this evening – it’s really good. Please watch, or consider watching. (Under 20 mins! You very well may consume more than 20 mins. worth of commercials each evening.) Well worth watching for everyone, and perhaps especially if you (like me, until only very recently) have/had never noticed before that word, intersectionality. …And perhaps especially especially if you’re a little “meh” (or even downright morally skeptical, coming from a certain kind of religious background) regarding the Women’s March & all that (that is, if most of my original readers haven’t been scared off by “so many radical views,” like the – I’m sure well-intentioned – recently unsubscribed former readers of the MWR quoted above. For the record, the only kind of radical I aim to be is a radical for love. And I’m not even close to being there yet).

The Women’s March was/still is about women’s rights, first and foremost, especially highlighting the causes of protection & promotion of the rights & well-being of Women of Color (WoC). Addressing police violence against WoC (a major focus of the above TED) was/is a huge part of the WMW platform. If that’s not a morally-important issue deserving of our attention and movement towards action, then I don’t know what is.

Someone (well-educated and warm-hearted) recently asked me, didn’t I think that the mass media exaggerates police violence against Black people?

To me, the opposite is heart-breakingly true. (As Crenshaw’s TED & the list below help demonstrate.)

Such violence is, in fact, significantly under-reported by media outlets (consumed by teachers & educators, PoC, white people, Christians, practitioners of other faiths, intelligent and faithfully diligent news-watchers, etc.) in part b/c the language w/ which to frame such discussions (i.e., intersectionality) is still nascent in its circulation & use. Crenshaw hits the nail on the head: language matters, and we need better frameworks to shape our discussions about issues that hit WoC and others w/ double, triple, or more-whammies of injustices in our country today.

Black women killed by police within last seven years – not an exhaustive list of WoC victims of state-sanctioned violence:

  • Aiyanna Stanley Jones (7 years old)
  • Alberta Spruill
  • Alesia Thomas
  • Alexia Christian
  • Aura Rosser
  • Danette Daniels
  • Duanna Johnson
  • Eleanor Bumpurs
  • Frankie Ann Perkins
  • Gabriella Nevarez
  • Gynna McMillen
  • India Beaty (killed at same age I am now)
  • India Kager
  • Janisha Fonville
  • Jessica Williams
  • Joyce Curnell
  • Kathryn Johnston
  • Kayla Moore
  • Kendra James
  • Kisha Michael
  • Kyam Livington
  • LaTanya Haggerty
  • Malissa Williams
  • Margaret LaVerne Mitchell
  • Margaret Mitchell
  • Meagan Hockaday
  • Michelle Cusseaux
  • Miriam Carey
  • Mya Hall
  • Natasha McKenna
  • Nizah Morris
  • Pearlie Golden
  • Ralkina Jones
  • Rekia Boyd
  • Redel Jones
  • Shantel Davis
  • Sharmel Edwards
  • Shelly Frey
  • Sheneque Proctor
  • Shereese Francis
  • Sonji Taylor
  • Symone Marshall
  • Tanisha Anderson
  • Tarika Wilson
  • Tyisha Miller
  • Yvette Smith

Source: TED Talk, “The Urgency of Intersectionality” by Kimberlé Crenshaw, Oct. 2016. #SayHerName


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