Mia Mingus is amazing and if you don’t know who she is, you should definitely go and check her out. She is “a queer disabled woman of color korean american transracial and transnational adoptee working, creating and loving towards wholeness and connection, love and liberation” and one kick-ass activist.
Her recent blog post “Intersectionality” is a Big Fancy Word for my Life pares down the keynote address she recently gave at MBLGTACC 2010. I think I’m in love. Listen.
We have to confront white supremacy within LGBT and Queer communities. A queer politic MUST include solidarity with people of color; it MUST include fighting racism and white supremacy. Because we aren’t queer OR people of color; queer OR white; queer OR able bodied; queer OR working class. We can’t just decide to come together as queer people and expect that we are all going to be united and work together—or that we’ll even feel comfortable.
We must be willing to have hard conversations as queer people with each other about how we are different as queer people. It helps us to expand what “queerness” is—to see that there are many different ways to be queer.
This talk about intersectionality is my kind of politics. The more I move out in the world, the more I realize that thinking in this way is part of a radical politic. Also, the more I grow the more I know without a doubt how absolutely necessary this kind of thinking is.
Racism and white supremacy are so pervasive, that we don’t even have to be consciously or intentionally doing anything to participate in them. It’s in the air we breathe; it’s how the machine rolls; it’s the default. It’s backed by everything in our society. That’s the thing about oppression, power and privilege: unless you are actively challenging it, you are colluding with it. We live in a heterosexist society, we live in an ableist society and we all have a responsibility to actively work against it. We can’t guarantee that things won’t be ableist or won’t be racist (that’s not the world we live in right now); but we CAN guarantee that when there is racism, when there is ableism, that we will do something about it. We will LISTEN to those most impacted; we will listen to people of color, we will listen to disabled folks; we will listen to trans folks; we will listen to queer disabled people of color—and hear them. We can guarantee that we will act and communicate with each other. And maybe we will make mistakes; and we will learn from them.
There is no such thing as neutrality. If you have privilege, you can never be neutral, because you are constantly benefiting off of that privilege—even at the same time as you are also being oppressed. That is what “intersectionality” (for lack of a better word) is about. It is about moving beyond single-issue politics; it’s about understanding the complexities of our lives. It is understanding that fighting for racial justice IS queer; fighting for disability justice IS queer.
Intersectionality informs the type of student midwife I am and the type of midwife I hope to be. How can we wake the birth community up to the necessity of this expansive way of thinking?