Using Intersectional & Anti-Colonial Frameworks and How we Divest from Systems of Oppression
WHAT IS INTERSECTIONALITY & WHY DO WE NEED IT?
We use the term “intersectionality,” to refer to the study, practice and mindfulness that systems of oppression & domination intersect with one another, interacting on multiple and often simultaneous levels, which contribute to systemic social inequality.
The types of oppression we recognize within our society –like those based on biological, social, and cultural categories– do not act independently of one another.
Instead, these forms of oppression interrelate, creating systems of oppression that reflect the “intersections” of multiple forms of discrimination.
For example: The ways that marginalization and oppression manifest for a queer woman of color is not the same as the marginalization of all queer people, or of all women, or of all people of color. Rather, compounding marginalizations, via compounding forms of oppression, inform one another in ways that shape the social positioning of queer women of color.
The same logic can be used with the term “people of color” –which only applies within the specific conditions of the white supremacist settler colonialism existing within the nation states of the so-called US and Canada. The term “people of color” is not all encompassing given that “people of color” face different compounding marginalizations that are specific to the ways that their ethnicity has been racialized by the state –Black, Indigenous, Arab, Latinx, Asian.
An intersectional framework submits to the fact that various movements –which fall under the broad umbrellas of “social justice” or “environmental justice”– cannot focus exclusively on any single form of discrimination.
Because oppression does not operate in a vacuum, we believe that it is imperative that these movements acknowledge the ways in which oppressive institutions (racism & white supremacy, sexism & heteropatriarchy, homo “phobia”, trans-misogyny, ableism, “xenophobia”, classism, and more) are interconnected, while also working from an understanding that they cannot be examined separately from one another.
The fabric of our society, and consequentially our organizing spaces, are weaved together by the ongoing legacies of colonization, genocide, slavery, white supremacy, and cis-hetero-patriarchy.
We believe that in order to bring our movements where they need to be, massive wide-spread re-education must occur. This means foregrounding historical and political contexts that are often overlooked in organizing spaces, leaving our movements disjointed and disconnected. Ultimately, we believe to identify, challenge, and attack all oppressive systems –which perpetuate widespread social inequalities and the commodification of the Earth– we must build movements capable of applying intersectional and anti-colonial frameworks to create the most effective strategies for working together and connect our movements.
ORIGINS OF THE CONCEPT OF INTERSECTIONALITY
We recognize the concept of Intersectionality itself is a concept born through Black feminism and a term coined by Kimberlé Crenshaw. We thank Patricia Hill Collins for her many contributions to this school of thought and – especially acknowledge her contribution of standpoint theory of which we base our work around.
Standpoint theory means people most targeted by oppressive factors are in the best position to lead, to make sense of, to describe, and to organize effectively to dismantle the systems of oppression that correlate to the specific ways that violence manifests in their personal experiences.
We understand any distancing from or failure to acknowledge these historical contexts and origins as being rooted in anti-Blackness and misogynoir.
DIVESTING FROM SYSTEMS OF OPPRESSION (WE DON’T DO “ANTI-OPPRESSION”)
Groundwork for Praxis acknowledges that oppressive behavior is normalized and internalized by our broader society. We also recognize that the institutional, economic, political, social, and cultural dynamics of hierarchy, power, and privilege that define mainstream society are replicated in our rorganizing spaces.
Combating these systems, especially the behaviors and dynamics they produce, is a difficult and life-long process. In order to move towards an intersectional, anti-colonial framework that’s based on identifying and dismantling oppressive structures, we must actively and consistently choose to engage in this work.
Divesting is a verb. It indicates that we must consciously choose to dismantle, we must consistently choose to dismantle. We must incorporate these choices into how we formulate our ideas and how we take action.
GFP strives to be accountable to all forms of oppressive and destructive behaviour. We recognize that it is the integration of an intersectional and anti-colonial framework –in both the work we do and in our communities– that moves us away from continued investment in oppressive systems which we believe only serve to divide and weaken our movements, as well as perpetuate inequality and the commodification of the earth. We choose to model our organizing spaces off of this framework so we can strengthen our communities and move together to sow seeds of solidarity for the collective liberation of all peoples and the earth– for a world free from domination.
As part of our desire to work in solidarity with affected communities, we recognize the importance of making a clear and conscious effort to elevate, center, and respect the needs, voices, and desires, of the communities we are invited to work with.
We are learning and growing every day and do not purport nor believe we hold all of the answers or know the best way to do everything or anything for that matter. We welcome and encourage submissions, critiques, and feedback so that we may grow and build together to better identify, challenge, and attack all systems of oppression.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.