Dr. Sara Diaz
WGST 303: The *isms: Race, Class, and Gender
Intersectionality - History
• Sojourner Truth
• “Ain’t I a Woman?”
• Black Feminist Movement 1970s – Combahee River Collective
• The most general statement of our politics at the present time
would be that we are actively committed to struggling against
racial, sexual, heterosexual, and class oppression, and see as our
particular task the development of integrated analysis and
practice based upon the fact that the major systems of
oppression are interlocking. (1977)
Intersectionality - History
• Kimberlé Crenshaw (1989) – Legal scholar
• Workplace discrimination laws only allowed bias claims along
one category of discrimination. Race OR Gender OR Religion,
but not both.
• This left some black women who’s experience sits at the
“intersection” between race and gender with no legal recourse
for bias claims in the workplace.
• The “intersection” metaphor was a bit more literal
• Intersection as place for “collisions” which left black women
Intersectionality in Dukes v. Walmart
•Crenshaw’s argument is still current:
•2011 Supreme Court decision ruled that 1.6 million
women Walmart workers could not be defined as a
single “class” because of the fact that some of their
discrimination claims were also about race and
•The case is proceeding in a state-by-state manner.
But the SCOTUS decision set precedent.
•What are some of the experiences of
workplace discrimination described in the
Walmart v Dukes case?
•From where did the "angry black woman"
stereotype come from? How is it affecting
African American women in the work
• Mammy without nurturing
• Precursor to “Angry Black woman”
• Usurps men’s role
• Unlike Mammy may be seen as
being overly sexual but in an
Angry Black Woman
• Irrationally angry (esp. about
• Plays “race” card
• LOTS of examples in media.
• Origins in The War on Poverty
• Moynihan Report 1965
• Angry black women are the
cause of black poverty.
• Welfare-Rights Movement
• Historically denied welfare.
• Ronald Regan – campaigned
on welfare abuse
• Racialized discourse to cast
black women as drain on the
• Is the only way for a [woman of color] to move up the employment
ladder, to fit in with their white collegaues? Why is issue not more
• After reading two pieces about the stereotyping and harsh
judgement put upon women of color in a usually white work place, it
makes me wonder, is success only available to latina and black
women who are willing to assimilate and leave their culture at the
• What does it mean to have etiquette and emotional labor for African
American women defined as performance? How does it describe a
generalized bureaucratic passive aggresive level of personal
deportment? (in reference to A&C pg 195)--Nichole
• In the "Keep Your 'N' In Check" Article, it is quoted, "Being direct and speaking your
mind is never encouraged. In fact if you do, you encounter a world of silence and
avoidance..." Is there a risk of being the opposite of this, too quiet? Would this
make a women of color in the high position work place seem less able to do that job
or less educated because she does not vocalize as strongly? Is there a middle ground
between these two ways of behavior? And why should women of color in the work
place have to worry about this behavior? In what ways is it different for men of
• Because African American women must always be "on" when working so they are
not perceived as overly-sexual or "angry", do they suffer from psychiatric
disorders? It is possible for these women to develop an extremely unhealthy mental
state due to the constant fight or flight response when in the workplace? In the
future, would there be a possibility for a disability wage for African American women
who had to wear down their mental state in order to maintain work?—Olivia
• What are some ways that we can change the norm of having the workplace be a
'traditionally white male citadel'?—Emily S.
• What can we do to change this system of inequality in employment? Lilly Z.
• In groups:
• Can a single with no kids person make it on minimum wage get by on
minimum wage in your city & state?
• How about a person with your socially defined identities?
• How does the hardship effect the scenario?
• How do you make decisions about how to get by in your scenarios?