2021 Equity Challenge Day 15: What is Intersectionality?

Intersectionality takes into account people’s overlapping identities and experiences in order to understand the complexity of prejudices they face.

Kimberlé Crenshaw

Law professor, civil rights advocate and leading scholar of critical race theory

Intersectionality is a tool and framework that helps us look at inequities through the multiple identities people hold and how they must navigate their experiences as individuals, in groups, and in society. Kimberlé Crenshaw coined the term in 1989 to explain how Black women faced specific discrimination related to both being Black and being a woman.

When using intersectionality as a framework we can see the impact of the overlapping identities that we all hold.  For example, think back to Day One of the challenge. We completed a social identity wheel to help us place our identities into social groups. The wheel is dynamic and full of many categories because we all hold multiple social identities like race, gender, disability status, religion, class and sexual orientation at one time. Intersectionality reminds us that we are all unique and the layering of our identities influences not only how we see and interact with the world but how the world sees and interacts with us. 

Over the next few days, we will look closer at the systematic inequities that specific groups face in our community based on various identities (gender, sexual orientation, citizenship status, etc.). As we move through the rest of the challenge we will use intersectionality to broaden our perspective and to better understand the compounding inequities that people and communities with multiple marginalized identities face.



Read this article on what intersectionality has to do with you and how you can utilize this term in your everyday life and equity work. (7 minutes)

Read this article, “What’s Intersectionality? Let These Scholars Explain the Theory and Its History,” which details the history of intersectionality and how it is utilized to make the feminist movement more inclusive today. (4 minutes)


Watch as Kimberlé Crenshaw, who coined the term intersectionality, describes its origin and how it was specifically developed to explain the experiences of Black women. (19 minutes)


Listen to a podcast episode of Intersectionality Matters with Kimberlé Crenshaw that looks at the intersectional vulnerabilities that COVID-19 has brought to light. (60 minutes)

Reflect And Share:

  1. If you have heard the term intersectionality before, how have you heard it used? How have today’s resources informed your understanding of the concept?
  2. How can you use intersectionality to better understand racial equity concepts?
  3. What questions do you still have about intersectionality? What are ways you can further explore those questions?


Start the conversation. Send the tweet. Share your story. Make the Facebook post. Sharing what you learn and experience with your family, friends, and co-workers is the first step toward allyship.

Join thousands in conversation by using hastag #EquityChallenge or #TakeTheEC21