Intersectionality and Stereotypes
Social Work 305
Dr. Sharon White said, “Intersectionality encompasses how one’s complex mix of identities influence the way an individual participates in, and is affected by society”. After watching the movie, Crash, I found it fairly difficult to analyze just one of the topics discussed in class. In many instances, race, class, gender and sexuality seem to intersect in our daily lives more often than we (as in one individual) may realize. It is important that we pay attention to this as we begin to form our opinions of people and situations. I have found that stereotypes are often the foundation for our ...view middle of the document...
In order to really grasp the concept of what intersectionality is, I had to define it for myself. I chose to look deeper into my own life and all of the different aspects that make me who I am. To most people, I am Jakqulyn Williams, the down to earth African American college student. I attend one of the most highly acclaimed universities in the south and I am well on my way to graduating—right on schedule. In 2010 the college enrollement rate was 74 percent for young women and 61.4 percent for black high school graduates (College Enrollment). Therefore, in modern society, this would seem typical to most people. However, underneath the exterior, there is another reality.
I am the product of a single African American, Christian, working class mother. I am the eldest of four children ranging from 21 to 4 years old. My mother makes fewer than 20,000 dollars a year. According to the 2011 poverty guidelines, families of 5 making less than $32,714 a year are considered within 125% of the poverty line (Department of Citizenship). As a result of low income, she has been forced to seek federal assistance. Stereotypically one might assume that she is uneducated, hypersexual, welfare queen (Peterson, 87). Contrary to stereotypical thinking, she earned a baccalaureate degree in English from Coastal Carolina University prior to my birth. All of her children were born while in marriage and she is a teacher for a federal education program called Headstart. Unfortunately, she is in a state of financial hardships due to marital separation in efforts to escape domestic abuse. “Adequate financial assistance—whether from family members, friend, or public assistance—often is the key factor that enables battered women and their children to leave and remain separate from their abusers” (Patterson, 125). Of course, these intersecting factors aren’t seen when examining her situation from the outside.
Another aspect of my life is that my first cousin and best friend is a homosexual. His ascribed status is African American male, Christian, and gay. His achieved status is high school graduate, college student, military veteran, and drag queen by night. Obviously his two statuses do not seem to be cohesive. Traditionally within the Bible belt south, you would never be inclined to use Christian and gay nor military and drag queen in the same sentence.
While in the military, his social identity was that of a heterosexual male who dressed and portrayed this role for many years. He upheld the expectations of a soldier and did not dare test the authority of the military by displaying his true sexual identity. Although he was kind of putting up a façade, this was the identity that he had to uphold in order to get where he wanted to be. I used to think that it must have been difficult for him to constantly hide, and pretend to be something he was not.
On the contrary, my cousin feels he should have been born a woman because he is “damn good at what he does”. He does drag...