“I live a lot of this stuff both in my own sect of intersectionality, but also in the job that I do,” Crisp said. “And I just think now more than ever these questions of, ‘How are we the same?’ ‘How are we different?’ ‘How do we reconcile these things?’ ‘How do we move forward together?’ are just so important.”
Alpha Kappa Delta Phi and Alpha Phi Alpha hosted Crossroads: A Stance on Solidarity, a panel focusing on issues of the African-American and Asian-American communities.
“(The cultural chair of Alpha Kappa Delta Phi) reached out to me a couple months ago and expressed the need for an event that would allow two independent communities, namely the African-American and Asian-American communities, to come together and ally toward a common goal that is the uplift of oppressed minorities,” said Embee Kanu, president of the Mu Zeta chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha.
The main topic of discussion was around the ways different parts of identity interact.
“When we speak of oppression, we’re speaking of racial oppression, but at the same time we are talking about oppression that takes place at the level of ethnicity, at the level of gender, at the level of sexuality and sexual orientation, at the level of national belonging and at the social-economic strata,” Rebecka Rutledge Fisher, English and comparative literature professor and panelist, said.
Fisher encouraged the audience to acknowledge each other’s oppression, instead of quantifying their own against another’s actions. She said this prevents the liberation of both oppressed parties.
“One can think of one’s activism in that fashion — to take what you love, to take what you’re passionate about, to take the inequities that you see before you that you hope to change to align your own desires ... with those of others who, while they might not be facing oppressions and difficulties and obstacles as high a difficulty as yours, they are still facing difficulties, they are still facing obstacles,” Fisher said.
Crisp said the concept of intersectionality is important because, without it, people who face oppression are under the impression that they compete with other minorities for power. He said this is counterproductive to both groups’ liberation.
“One of the principles of power is you maintain it by dividing that which could take you away from it,” Crisp said.
The panelists urged the students to make connections to their peers in other communities and bring their activist beliefs into every aspect of their daily lives.
“I encourage you to build your activism, not only on the knowledge that you acquire, but also, and possibly more importantly, your critical understanding of this knowledge as well as the optimum ways in which the best of this knowledge can be applied in your daily actions and activism,” Fisher said.