An intersectionality dialogue session was held today looking at how identities interlink, focusing on queerness, race and gender.
Individuals are comprised of conflicting identities that have to be acknowledged in social justice. This was the central theme of the third intersectionality dialogue session held at Wits University on Monday, July 18.
“Intersectionality for me is the acknowledgement that different identity categories mutually constitute each other,” said Prof Tommaso Milani, one of the panelists and associate professor of linguistics from Wits.
Milani went on to explain that “when one looks at my body intersectionally, you can see a huge amount of privilege and then kind of disturbed by a set amount of oppression, which is the issue that I embody a non-normative sexuality.”
Pura Mgolombane of the Wits Transformation and Employment Equity Office facilitated the discussion and explained that within the framework of intersectionality, people can’t “talk about my blackness and take away my queerness”.
“You need to be conscious of the intersection of identities, because as much as in one aspect you may be oppressed, but in another aspect you may be the oppressor yourself,” Mgolombane added.
Li’Tsoanelo Zwane, a gender activist and Wits masters candidate emphasised the point made by her co-panelists by saying, “I am as black, as I am queer, as I am African, as I am a women.”
Zukiswa White, a feminist and activist, explained that there are levels of oppression which in itself is not a linear process.
Zwane added that as human beings “We do not fight single issue struggles because we do not live single issue lives.”
Transformation processes need to adopt the approach of intersectionality to ensure we are “moving in the right direction”, said Mgolombane.