This week I presented at ILA2018 (here is the link to my poster presentation: “Write 4 Change”: Cultivating Autonomous, Global EFL Learners through Blogging). The conference highlight for me was the intersectionality workshop presented by Quenby Hoffman Aoki, JALT GALE SIG‘s coordinator.
In her interactive workshop, Quenby first defined intersectionality, and then the participants discussed their experiences and engaged in several activities which can be applied in language classrooms.
What Is Intersectionality?
- First named in the 1980’s by African-American feminist scholars (e.g., Sojourner Truth’s “Ain’t I A Woman?” speech, 1851)
- Intersecting identities, including race, class, and gender, result in both privilege and oppression
- The idea that systems of oppression are interrelated and cannot be considered in isolation
- Also known as hybridity, matrix of oppression, multiple identities, mestizaje, double jeopardy
- Although everyone has both privilege and challenge, intersectionality is ultimately about social justice!
Here is a video on intersectionality from Teaching Tolerance website: Teaching at the Intersections: Honor and teach about your students’ multiple identities
Here are some parts from Why Intersectionality Can’t Wait:
Intersectionality was a lived reality before it became a term.
Intersectionality is not just about identities but about the institutions that use identity to exclude and privilege. The better we understand how identities and power work together from one context to another, the less likely our movements for change are to fracture.
Others accuse intersectionality of being too theoretical, of being “all talk and no action.” To that I say we’ve been “talking” about racial equality since the era of slavery and we’re still not even close to realizing it. Instead of blaming the voices that highlight problems, we need to examine the structures of power that so successfully resist change.
Here is a book recommended by Quenby: Women Across Cultures: A Global Perspective by Shawn Meghan Burn
The quotes that Quenby referred to:
Small groups discuss current text or topic. Each group writes one comment or sentence on the board. Then, for homework students choose one of the comments for a short essay. At the bottom of their essays, each student writes one further question, to be discussed in the next class.
For example: Not all women are emotional, and not all men are logical.
Writing on the Wall
8 to 10 controversial sentences related to current class topic (you can see a sample below), with a horizontal line (strongly disagree to strongly agree). Tape on wall around classroom. Students walk around and put their mark on the line. Afterwards, discuss the results. Follow up with an essay assignment.
The “Privilege and Challenge” Walk
Privilege Walk Lesson Plan: https://peacelearner.org/2016/03/14/privilege-walk-lesson-plan/
Note: “Privilege and Challenge” Walk has been criticized and I need to read more about it and learn how to make it better. I recently talked to Maha Bali about the activity and she believes that role play is better than making a line to do the activity.
The Big Social Identities
List the three that you think are most important.
- Race (Skin Color)
- Ethnicity (Background)
- Socioeconomic Status (Class)
- Sexual Orientation
- Physical and Mental Ability
Now complete the sentence:
Hello, my name is …………………. and I am ……………………………………………………… and ………………………………………………………………………………………
- Are there any of the above categories that you do not relate to or think about much?
- Any you find problematic or confusing? Any other categories you would like to add to the list? (Marital status was mentioned by one of the participants)
- Which of your identities do you think others judge you by the most?
- Which carry the most privilege or challenge?
- Bonus ** Which of them are social constructs?
Examine an interaction you have had recently. Consider how the situation might have been different if you change one aspect of your identity?