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Talking Bloom: Episode 3

Graham: [00:00:15] Hi all, and welcome to Episode 3 of Talking Bloom. I’m Graham Fagerquist and I’m joined by Sam Britt. Hey, Sam.

 

Sam: [00:00:23] Hi. How’s it going?

 

Graham: [00:00:24] Good. So today we’re going to talk about intersectionality and intersectionality is something that typically I think of being associated with feminism. That’s always been the context that I’ve thought of intersectionality as being in. But as we’ve learned recently, that’s not always the case and it’s much more of a larger term that extends to all different identities and experiences. So really, the emergence of intersectionality comes in the 1960s and 70s when a lot of these social movements are happening in the United States. And of course, the civil rights movement is happening and so comes with it is a lot of overlap with people from different backgrounds, with different identities and the emergence of African-American women protesting and having to face these kind of what we think of as dual discrimination when they’re, you know, performing these sit ins or these or these other acts, these other demonstrations. We kind of look back on history and we tend to we tend to think of it as being a predominantly male dominated movement. But we’ve learned that that’s not always the case. And that’s not usually the case. And it’s hardly ever the case. And that becomes especially relevant when we think about disability studies, disability rights and really accessibility in the United States in twenty nineteen.

 

Sam: [00:01:59] Yeah. I mean, a lot of intersectionality comes from this idea of society wanting to put people in their specific boxes. So if you’re African-American, like that’s your that’s what you’re facing. That’s what your life’s all about. And what sectionality sets out to do is show that this isn’t the case and people of varying backgrounds sometimes face overlap in discrimination they face. Sometimes there’s discrimination coming from a lot of different angles. Where going off of your African-American women protesting in the 1960s. You have that protest going on for the civil rights movement. You have the sexual revolution happening, which involved a lot of different types of sexual preferences and gender identities coming forth and demanding equal treatment and equal rights. So you have all these movements happening then and this moved and it continues into our society now. Or you would have someone maybe who identifies African-American woman who also, just as an example, maybe practices Islam. So now they’re facing some discrimination as far as when it comes to their religious beliefs. You have discrimination based on class, like every aspect of life works together into how you experience society. Intersectionality is kind of the umbrella term to show that people are more of an amalgamation of all of their parts rather than being put in this one separate box that gets checked off and that’s the same experience your living everyday when that’s just not the case.

 

Graham: [00:03:39] Yeah, I think a lot of people try to oversimplify issues and we try to say, oh, well, this rights movement happened. Everything’s better and there’s this talk that we live in, this post-Depression world, which that is just not the case. And I can see the attraction to that idea. I can see why people try to take that approach to things and just oversimplify and act like everything’s good. But just because these movements have happened, there’s been these slight improvements in different realms. They really the issues really do get doubled down when people do have this intersection of identities. And how I don’t know that the oppression and the discrimination can be incredibly intensified and almost doubled depending on these identities. And another thing to keep in mind, too, is that although individuals might have similar identities or what we might view as similar identities. People prioritize these identities and the aspects of these identities very differently. And the key here is to not oversimplify things and to really take a person centered approach and really develop a personal relationship with these people and not think of it as this blanket term that intersectionality usually is and really develop a personalized approach to how we deal with issues, how we deal with conflict and how we deal with making things better rather than just staying in a fixed position.

 

Sam: [00:05:26] Yeah, I think a fixed position is like a really great a great way to put it, because having these rigid set of ideas and these rigid set of rules is what causes all this discrimination is going on to the person centered approach, which is one of the keys in combating intersectional discrimination, is having this environment where there’s a lot more freedom um, freedom to be accessible as far as the personal approach is concerned, because that involves kind of tailoring how you act specifically to the person you’re dealing with and that allows for you to be able to take in all of their identities while you try to interact with them. And that’s what is kind of the environment you’re trying to foster when you’re trying to make a space more accessible as you never want to feel like someone who comes into that space feels like they are uncomfortable because you aren’t necessarily looking and take into account all the identities that they have. And I guess since we are an accessibility podcast, after all, we can move into how accessibility works with intersectionality, and obviously accessibility kind of has this connotation that comes with physical limitations. But that’s not really the case when it comes intersectionality, because there are so many different things to take into account that make someone uncomfortable or provides hurdles when trying to use specific spaces or to do specific things and there are things like there’s the environmental level of where that’s spatial constructs and stuff that can get in the way. You have the attitudinal level, which is how people interact with people of different, different varying backgrounds while they’re in a space. And then you have the organizational level, which is the policies and strategic planning that goes in place when designing an area and or activity that allows for more people to feel that they are included and their identities are valued.

 

Graham: [00:07:41] And I think one of these big misconceptions that I kind of hear frequently from not necessarily critics, but just people in general as well, that they don’t know enough or how are they supposed to be able to interact with everyone or make sure that they have to tip toe around. It really isn’t as much as tiptoeing around. It is about it’s an ongoing educational process. And I think as a cis gender white man, I can say for myself that every day it’s an educational process and it’s just developing the knowledge and it’s personalized knowledge to interact with people correctly. So I think when we think of even take home based care for an example, although you might be trained as a as a private nurse or as someone to come into a house and give the correct care and you’ve been trained fully, you might not be well-versed in gender studies or you may not be well-versed in the cultural background of the person that you’re going to meet when you walk through that door on the first day. And so it’s not always about being prepared at all times. But I would say it’s more so about being prepared in terms of openness. Be prepared to walk through the door, open in every situation and just be ready to learn and be ready to move forward and be ready to address different needs and be ready to accommodate to people, because that’s very important to me.

 

Sam: [00:09:20] Yeah. And going off of that example, I know we both kind of thought about this beforehand. And that’s a great way to kind of exemplify these ideas of the environmental level, to add to new level and organizational level where someone who who isn’t home care, obviously you don’t want their attitude going to these specific places is, like you said, to be open and understanding of people and be able to recognize situations where maybe you aren’t fully prepared or fully educated, where you either have the choice to educate yourself and or talk to the person and figure out a better way to get this care. And then you also have the organizational level where if you necessarily aren’t prepared, maybe this is something that the organization that provides a home care can take into account. As far as training future employees that would allow them to be more ready or to be more accommodating in these situations. And I think a lot of the ideas that you’re talking about as far as being open are walking in and. The educational process, a lot of it comes down to not being afraid to recognize that you lack the education in some regards and you shouldn’t be scared to acknowledge your own lack of understanding. You shouldn’t be afraid to maybe approach someone and ask them a question and how they prefer you acted to them. It’s better to always go out of your way to educate yourself and maybe ask or do some research than to either ignore a situation or, God forbid, act harmful in a situation and make someone uncomfortable.

 

Graham: [00:10:58] Yeah, asking questions is incredibly important and something that I’ve learned to do a lot in the production of this podcast and on this knowledge based journey we’re on. And I think the organizational one is it is a daunting task on the surface level. I think that it can be a little difficult to think of these kind of systemic problems and how we’re going to address them organizationally, because that’s kind of where it has to happen. It would be a great we would be a way better world if we could just assume that everyone would just kind of follow what we would deem like the most effective way of interacting with individuals. But there is  still this need for companies and organizations to imply to incorporate rather a certain level of code of conduct that they can even make public on their Web site and just provide people with the training and give them the necessary guidelines and parameters on how to go about their day and how to go about their work. So that way they don’t struggle when it comes to walking through that door on the first day.

 

Sam: [00:12:20] Yeah, and that’s once again like our main theme. This episode is probably just to be open to other peoples identities, other people’s backgrounds, other people’s challenges and go into the organizational levels. Acting on this is as simple as having a survey available to where people can make suggestions to you if they don’t feel like their needs are being met. And I think that’s a great way of looking at it. Moving forward is just basically living your life as if you’re always ready for someone to give you a survey on how you are acting you are always ready to take in that information and better yourself for it instead of being set once again rigidly in your ways of lacking either empathy or understanding towards another person’s journey through life.

 

Graham: [00:13:05] As intersectionality is this overall idea of overlapping, I’m seeing a lot of overlapping with these accessibility rubrics that we’re doing here on campus and the idea of giving people the opportunity to come forward and say what’s wrong. While we also don’t want it to always have to reach that point, We don’t want to become the burden of the people being oppressed to express this oppression. If we offer this, if we open up a dialogue where we can learn what we can do better, there’s always going to be a benefit to that. But I think as a community, the burden is on everyone to kind of continue to move forward and to get better, especially with dealing with these overlaps of the system. This idea of just multi-faceted oppression and just from different aspects and how people’s identities are not limited to the physical identities we might think of them of having or their cultural background, that it really is this intertwined level of identities that affects them in every aspect of their daily lives.

 

Sam: [00:14:13] Yeah. And just going off that just one on one of our final thoughts here is just you’re right that we shouldn’t be on the burden of the people who are made to feel uncomfortable, to have to educate every single person about what they want. A lot of that should fall on the burden. If you don’t understand something, it falls on you to maybe do your research. And of course, asking someone a question is a great place to start. But the burden should be on them that they literally have to answer every question of their, God forbid they’re the token person in the room when it comes to everyone else, not understanding how to act towards their identity. And I think you are right that I don’t want to be misconstrued earlier in the episode that you should always just got your way to find people who have these identities and ask them questions like they’re this source of all knowing knowledge. But it’s more so the general idea behind to asking them a question, which is to remain open and to want to understand identities are different than your own.

 

Graham: [00:15:21] So I would urge everyone listening to go participate in these different days and these different kind of months that we have set up to, you know, focus on different whether it’s African-American History Month or whether it’s Pride Month or last week with Trans Day of Remembrance. If you go to these events and you go to these marches or you go to any of these events, I think that you will see a lot of overlap that you might not be expecting. And don’t go there with the idea of that these people are solely defined by the month or the event that they’re partaking in, but that there’s a lot of overlap and that people are more than just what we like to define them as are just what we see on the surface.

 

Sam: [00:16:06] Yeah, I think that’s the pointof this episode is just intersectionality is this term and it’s only that term because when it comes down to it, it’s basically saying that every person is different, a person has different lived experience. Intersectionality is kind of just the word for taking all of that into account when you are interacting with someone and just remaining open to their ideas and to their ways of life.

 

Graham: [00:16:32] I couldn’t say it better. Well, thank you guys for listening. Whether you’re listening or reading along with the transcriptions on our Web site ProjectBloomSju.org Thanks for listening to Episode 3 of Talking Bloom.

 

Sam: [00:16:46] Subscribe on Apple podcast if you haven’t, and have a great day, everyone.

 

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