AN OUTSIDER LOOKING IN: A Real Look at Intersectionality

Intersectionality is defined by as "the interconnected nature of social categorizations such as race, class, and gender as they apply to a given individual or group, regarded as creating overlapping and interdependent systems of discrimination or disadvantage." Another way of seeing it is this - it's when different marginalized groups come together to support one another, like when women (as a gender) come together, regardless of their class, race, or ethnicity.

Here is one woman, Emma Rose, who, although she is not Latina, from the beginning has been supportive of the Latina Made movement. Below she explains why.

Why was it important for you to support Latina Made when you are not Latina? From where I live and whom I spend my time with, I feel very familiarized with the culture, almost a part of it in a small way. It may not be a community I was born into, but it is a community who has accepted me just as I am. I want everyone to understand the ways in which supporting Latinas, and having everyone be as welcoming to them as they have been to me, is all-around beneficial. Everyone wins when you support one another in general, and Latina women have especially been overlooked.

They are the single most powerful force in the LA fashion district, but you don’t read about any of that in Women's Wear Daily. They write on who is closing their doors, which French or Italian industry bigwig moved their design houses to LA, who will be showing in NY, but no one mentions that anything made in LA is often designed, merchandised, patterned, cut, sewn, draped, produced by Latina hands. I want that to change and for these talented people to be seen as the valuable artists they are.

Why do you feel it is important to support women of all backgrounds? This is a hard one to answer without veering into an explanation on the importance of intersectional feminism, which I feel coming from me would be the white female equivalent of mansplaining. Was the feminist movement naïve, shortsighted, and shallow for only fighting for equality for white women years ago when Gloria Steinem was first organizing marches? Yup. Do I believe the future of women of all backgrounds fighting for each other is the future of not only feminism but humanity in general?

Yes. But there’s deeper psychology to my wanting to support women of different backgrounds that would be disingenuous to ignore.

When I was three, my father was hired by a newspaper in Dallas, TX and we moved there. I don’t know if the neighborhood we moved to was ill-researched on their part or just what they could afford, but it was a strict Baptist community who did not welcome people who didn’t pray to their God or believe in Jesus. I have memories of having anxiety at meeting a new friend’s parents because I was so hated by adults for being different. Children were often not allowed to play with me because their parents didn’t want them “near heathens.” An example of how dramatic this was: my mom signed me up for Girl Scouts as a way to force them to accept me, at least to some small degree. I remember a sleepover when all the girls were about to go to sleep, they joined hands to say a prayer. I couldn’t join them because I’d taint the prayer or something, but in an effort to include me, they joined hands in a circle around me and prayed that Jesus forgives me for “siding with the devil,” that they didn’t’ want me to burn in hell, and to give me the strength to find Him and accept him into my heart, etc, etc.

I simultaneously knew what they were doing was ridiculous while also internalizing, believing, that they were right – that I was less worthy, the outsider heading to hell for being different. My most formative years were spent believing that no matter what I did, I’d be seen as less than those around me.

Thankfully The Dallas Morning News closed and my father got a job at The New York Times; we moved to Jersey. We lived in a neighborhood culturally and ethnically mixed, where no one was an outsider because everyone brought something different to the mix. I finally lived in a neighborhood where I got to play kickball and street hockey and basketball, tag, mud fights; I got to be a kid.

When I think of people who can never, no matter what they do, leave that type of situation the way I was able to; my heart breaks. When I see friends of mine treated horribly in the media, in the news, in politics; my heart breaks. Everyone deserves to know their worth, their importance, and to be seen by their own value.

What do you love/admire about Latino culture? I can tell you the familiar threads I’ve seen throughout my experiences with people belonging to Latino culture. There’s so much! Top three, though: 1. Importance of Family, 2. Work ethic, and 3. Pride.

How do you feel about intersectionality and how women are currently being treated in our society? We have a fight; no matter who is in power, who is impeached, who replaces them - we all have to have each other’s backs if we’re going to get through this. We need to support women of color who run for public offices because we have voting power. With our spending power, we need to watch movies and shows whose cast-members aren’t predominantly white, we need to support entrepreneurs and products whose target market is either specifically women of color or women of all colors. I feel we cannot demand from a society that women are treated better until we individually focus on treating each other better and leading by example.

Once we break down whatever invisible barriers exist among us as women, it’ll be easier to shatter a glass ceiling. In essence, intersectionality leads to the fulfillment of that great American prophecy, “United We Stand.”

Photo by Batu Gezer 


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