Happy Monday, my friends! When I started taking courses at MTSO this fall my primary goal was to give my work with LOVEboldly a greater theological context, but I hoped that eventually I could use or adapt something from class to my professional work. That time has come. Starting this week and continuing through the next three Monday Moments, I will be drawing inspiration from one of my classes and in fact by the time you read these posts they will have been submitted as the final project in that class. This course—titled Leadership, Learning, and Community Formation—has focused on the themes of identity, intersectionality, place, and community. These themes will inform our reflections.
If you’ve been following and reading Monday Moments for a while you’ve heard me use the word “intersectionality.” Coined by Kimberlé Crenshaw, intersectionality is the perspective and lived reality that each of us exists at and experiences the world through the intersection of all our identities. Understanding that we continually speak and act from the sum of our identities helps us moderate how we show up in particular spaces. For example, I’m a Queer white cis-gender man who identifies as Christian, as temporarily able-bodied, a person living with a chronic illness, and a person with mental health issues. If we were to graph those identities their intersection is where I would exist. The value of intersectionality is accounting for where our privileged and non-privileged identities show up and impact us. In my case, being Queer, and living with both a chronic illness and mental health issues are non-privileged identities. However, those identities don’t negate that I’m a white cis-gender man who is temporarily able-bodied.
Lest anyone dismiss intersectionality as a theoretical concept without meaning in the real world, we can observe intersectional identities and dynamics in our daily lives. When I walk in a room people see my race, my gender, and my size. I’m usually accorded respect based on those visible identities. With a mild preppy attitude and a smile, I’m the big teddy bear and protector for other white people, but People of Color, some women, and others who don’t know me may see me as potentially threatening, as another white man who thinks he’s so cool he wears brightly colored socks. When one of my fraternity brothers, a lawyer and professor whose sweet nature he wears on his sleeve walks into the Franklin County Courthouse he is regularly accosted by attorneys looking for their clients and bailiffs who judge all Black men as criminals or the friends of criminals first rather than attorneys and court officials. Intersectionality is not only about our own identities, but how our identities, experiences, and prejudices impact how we view others and are viewed by others.
What are your intersectional identities? Where do you see your experiences intersecting with the identities of other people?
Let us pray: God, you are unbound by the restrictions and finitude of our human identities and social constructions. You create us in your image, an image of a perfect creator. But the world and our society defines us by gender, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, religion, socioeconomic status, and other identities which narrow our humanity and how our neighbors see and perceive us. Break down the walls between us and shatter the lies of fragile human construction. Free us, dear God, so that we may radiate your beauty in the world. Amen.
Blessings on your weeks, my friends! Please let me know if there is anything I can do for you.
PS. I occasionally get responses to Monday Moments from a few folks, but I rarely hear from most folks. Given that the list of people who receive these reflections direct to their inbox has only grown and typically between 55% and 65% of you at least open these messages every week, I assume they are well received. Yet, I’d love to hear from you! What are your thoughts? Do you have ideas for topics or passages (Biblical or otherwise) that I should use? Let me know. Thanks!