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White Violence Calls for Intersectionality Among the Oppressed

White Violence Calls for Intersectionality Among the Oppressed

White Violence Calls for Intersectionality Among the Oppressed
April 01
10:00 2021

On March 16, 2021, a gunman murdered eight people in Atlanta, Georgia. The murders occurred at spas and massage parlors all in the similar area, and the majority of the victims were of Asian-American descent. Additionally, the gunman was a white man. I mention his race because there is a common thread linking mass shootings in America, in that the perpetrators are often white men

Yet again, we have violence from a white person ending the lives of those who aren’t white. It’s a chilling pattern present in this country. It’s also something every person who isn’t white becomes cruelly aware of from a far too young age. We are shown through the news and pop media that it’s sad, normal and expected to see marginalized people become victims of white violence. It seems unending, and often when confronting this issue, no one knows where to start. 

I believe that a crucial part in understanding how to react to white violence is to view it as radical. It has been normalized by the structures in our society. But, if we change our frame and acknowledge that this violence should never happen, we can start finding a solution. When we view white violence as a radical act against marginalized people, the only feasible way through it is intersectionality.

Intersectionality is a concept that states there are many different axes of oppression present in any society. One knows that women, racial and queer populations are marginalized. Intersectionality is the acknowledgement that these oppressive forces compound on each other. Likewise, if you are white, male, heterosexual and cisgendered, you experience far less oppression than someone who is none of those things. 

Intersectionality has another direction, which ties into the nature of solidarity. If a community can realize that they are all oppressed in some way, then they have the ability to come together and demand radical change to the system they live in. This was a philosophy espoused by the Black revolutionary leader Fred Hampton in the 1960s. He created what he called a Rainbow Coalition, which operated on notions of intersectionality among the oppressed. Hampton led a huge coalition of activists and radicals in Chicago who all came from different backgrounds. The thread connecting them together was an acknowledgement that under the system they all lived in, all of them suffered. The only way out was together. 

Now, there are often misinterpretations of what intersectionality should be. It is not misery poker. Intersection is not the oppression olympics. When seeking allies, one shouldn’t try and “prove” that they are the most marginalized person at the table. There may be someone who fits that category, but the way to acknowledge that is to listen, not talk. When people from different backgrounds ask for help, you need to take that plea seriously. If you think a solution someone is offering may be inappropriate, it’s best to first check your privilege.

If this idea might seem a bit radical, it might be best to ask yourself if you benefit from any system this is trying to dismantle. These actions and questions help to define intersectionality and separate it from what may be seen as silencing the voices of others in a room. 

Radical violence requires radical reactions, otherwise we allow this violence to become normalized. This radical action can take many forms, but the shape it must take at its core is one of solidarity. In a country that seems rife with hate and individualism, building solidarity and community is a radical act. Another radical act of solidarity in a community is to donate money and other items to those in need. The consequences of oppression are material, and need material solutions. Here is a link to the official GoFundMe pages of victims from the Atlanta Spa Shootings.

Featured Illustration by Olivia Varnell

About Author

Javi Cavazos Weems

Javi Cavazos Weems

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