What Is Intersectional Justice?
Kimberlé Crenshaw, a civil rights activist and legal scholar, coined the term “intersectionality.” In 1989. Crenshaw recognized that overlapping or multiple discriminations are profoundly damaging. For example, racism and sexism can collude to foster even more egregious injustices for women of color. When a woman of color is also an impoverished trans woman, the resulting experience of injustice is exponentially more severe. Crenshaw’s notion of intersectionality serves to remind us that we all have overlapping identities and experiences that may engender a complex web of oppression, discrimination, and injustice for some of us. (For mor information, you can read her rather academic paper here and view a TED talk she offered on the notion of “intersectionality” here.)
Within our congregation, we focus on intersectional justice as a way of considering how overlapping forms of oppression are at play in our society. As such, we seek to deepen our understanding of cultural, economic, environmental and racial injustices. And we endeavor to translate our understanding of these intersecting injustices into work as accomplices with partners in the larger community.
What is the Intersectional Justice Team?
The UUCC Intersectional Justice Team is the “umbrella” entity charged with comprehensive leadership of the congregation’s efforts in the areas of Societal and Environmental Transformation. This Team exists to provide essential leadership in our efforts to embody our ambitious Vision, Mission and Ends. This team works to:
- Promote and coordinate our social justice volunteer opportunities.
- Integrate our work in Societal and Environmental Transformation with our work in Spiritual Transformation .
- Educate the congregation about the meaning of our commitment to Societal and Environmental Transformation and about particular opportunities for participation
We prioritize relationships with local partner groups which meet the requirements set forth in the guiding principles, giving most of our attention and resources to those organizations. At the same time, we understand that there are many entry points to justice work, and that it is important to be positioned to respond quickly to current events, legislation, etc. as well as maintain relationships with our denominational partner groups.
In addition to working closely with our partner organizations, the focus of much of the programming for children, youth and adults offers congregants the opportunity to learn in other ways. We understand that dismantling systems of oppression is fundamental to our Unitarian Universalist values and strive to integrate these principles throughout the organization. Services, classes, experiential learning, and community involvement all offer ways to understand the impact of structural injustice on all of our lives.
Some members of our Intersectional Justice Core Groups described below were asked to join an Engagement Group. The Engagement Group is charged with identifying potential partners in the larger community. The Engagement Group is guided by both their deepened understanding, gained through participation in our Core Groups, and by our aggregated Guiding Principles. The Guiding Principles seek to assure ongoing attention to our learning by expressing particular qualities we seek in our partners. Importantly, our partners are the ones who both name the injustice and define our work by providing opportunities to be accomplices in their work. As of March 2023, the Intersectional Justice Team and the Engagement Group are meeting jointly to increase efficiency and communication.
Information about opportunities for Justice Work can be found in our Currents Newsletter.