Intersectionality: Going Forward

The many facets of identity. Source: Canadian Research Institute for the Advancement of Women

When I began writing Crossroads & Intersections last year, I started by showing how diversity and inclusion are not enough to achieve gender, race, and class parity in today’s theatre scene.

Then I outlined how we, as theatre artists, possess a unique combination of skills and interests that make us ideal change agents.

Story continues below.

What followed were a few posts detailing intersectionality as a practice for understanding power dynamics in systems and institutions. And a final post giving a springboard for how to apply intersectionality simply by asking questions of the world around you.

Now that I’ve established the fundamentals of intersectionality, we can begin talking about the really interesting stuff: how intersectionality impacts what we create, how we work, how we engage, and (my personal favorite) the meaning of our work.

Of course, I won’t necessarily be using those terms. Intersectionality is the overarching umbrella for how race, gender, and class intersect. Going forward, I plan to get specific about these things.

Not in the usual way of only naming the Other (women, people of color, poor and working class people, LGBT people, and so on), but by naming whiteness, maleness, heterosexuality, wealth, and so on just as we name people as women, people of color, LGBTQ, etc.

The importance of naming these things lies not in pointing the finger or assigning blame, but acknowledging the subjectivity of experiences. Everyone starts from somewhere. None of us is a void. We are all human beings who have perspectives shaped by who and where we are.

This naturally means that this year’s pieces will show more sharing, more introspection, more reflection. As you may have surmised, in a lot of cases, it’s not about finding answers but exploring questions and offering perspectives that don’t always see the light of day. So, I invite you to share your own experiences and insights, even if to say, “I’m not sure what this means.”

In my experience, this “unpacking” process can lead into some really interesting directions. While it can and often does uncover some unfortunate implications in our work, it can also lead to a deeper understanding of how our art fits into the broader issues of media representation, opportunities for underrepresented artists, what our work reflects about society, and so on.

Let’s get unpacked for 2015, and I’m willing to start with me.