The Importance of Intersectionality

Lary Lopez, Contributor 

Identity. Who am I? Who are you? What are intersectional identities? When I think of intersectionality, the first thing that comes to mind is the concept of seeing myself within my multiple selves. That sounds confusing, so let me simplify it. The person that I am is made up of multiple identities. 

I am not just one identity. I am multiple identities. I am someone who’s Latinx. I am a cisgender male. When I look at myself I see someone who is gay. I see someone who is depressed. I see someone who is poor. I see all these different parts of myself, and to me, that is what intersectionality is. It is being able to understand the multiple identities that you are and hold because you’re not just one identity, you’re multiple. 

But that’s just the beginning of it. It is also being able to understand how these identities affect the way that you move through life. Going back to myself and all these different identities, I know that the way I will be perceived isn’t going to great. I’m Brown, and I currently live in a society that makes it seem as though I’m some sort of criminal. However, I also have to understand that other folks face this, but a lot more aggressively.

An example is someone who is Black. Automatically, I think of the number of black folks in the United States that are murdered in cold blood for just being Black. This is something that cannot be changed. I have to understand that I, although I don’t have much, still have more privilege than those who are Black. I also said that I was a cisgender male and identified that way. I jump way up high in privilege automatically because I am not female-identified. There are experiences that I will never have to face from being discriminated against because of my gender identity or having to always check whether or not I’m being followed. The fear in thinking that one day I might be taken from the street and in an instance, disappear and never be heard from again. 

Because I am a cisgender man, those aren’t thoughts that come to me. There are many more privileges that I benefit from because of my identities. There are also problems that I face because of them. It’s so complex and can be hard to grasp, but that is what intersectionality means to me. It’s taking a step back and looking at yourself from the outside. Understanding how you walk in this life is going to be completely different from the person next to you, but being able to respect that person and seeing them for who they are.