Quick Takes – Intersectionality!: Intersectional Faith; Intersectional Liberation; Intersectional Pilgrimages

     Another “quick takes” on items where there is too little to say to make a complete article, but is still important enough to comment on.

     The focus this time: Catechisms of a Secular Faith

     First, a little bit of mood music:

     Carrying on…

     And thus the secular faith manifests!

“Intersectionality is a wholly academic invention that plays a large role in this movement. Indeed, it stands in the vanguard of the progressive academy, allied with critical race studies, queer studies, women’s studies, and ethnic studies. Intersectional scholars proudly proclaim their goal: to smash the neoliberal, corporate, heteropatriarchal academy and then to reinvent it in a way that rejects traditional notions about what universities are meant to do. These scholars also want to redefine the family and to abolish the ‘binary’ of man and woman.


“Yet intersectionality deals not only, or even primarily, with individuals. Individuality is secondary to group identity. For just as prejudice and oppression define our dominant institutions and social structures, intersectionalists assert, we are formed by the social structures and groups to which we belong. Blacks, women, and others have the distinct disadvantage of being part of nondominant social structures, no matter what other characteristics they possess (wealth, tenure, prestige). They are the inevitable targets of prejudice, discrimination, fear, and hatred. The only solution to this society-wide problem is coalition-building and political action on a large scale. In other words, we need a revolution.”

     This, sadly, is but a gospel…

” Patricia Hill Collins is distinguished university professor in sociology at the University of Maryland. She has had a long and productive career as a black feminist academic. Her work is cited widely by scholars in gender studies, queer studies, Africana studies, rhetoric, communications, and sociology.

Collins was the keynote speaker at the Notre Dame conference I attended. Though I disagreed with almost all of the substance of her talk, she drew the audience in, made us feel like we were her friends and allies, and effectively recruited us to her cause. She used humor and storytelling to describe her life as a black female academic in an age when she had very few peers who looked like her. (She’s currently sixty-nine years old.)

As she spoke, I began to feel that I was not at an academic lecture at all, but at an Evangelical church with a charismatic pastor. She even looked the part, wearing all black with a vibrant green scarf that hung around her shoulders like a cleric’s stole. Some of her statements brought approving murmurs from the audience—“Umm hmm.” At times people broke out in spontaneous applause or acclamation, as if we were at a revival.

Soon the church-like atmosphere evolved into a political rally. Collins told us that the academy is filled with “timid people” who are afraid to challenge the status quo. She also asserted that authentic intellectual engagement requires political activism. Why should we “take up the words” if we “lose the critical edge” and the ability to put ideas into practice? “Now is not the time,” Collins asserted, for “business as usual!” The election of Donald Trump has heightened the need for intersectionality, as a way of protesting the egregious racism, sexism, and homophobia that his administration embodies. She exhorted us to be oppositional. Revolution cannot take place unless we overthrow the existing power structures, and intersectionality requires that all oppressed groups work together. Citing black feminist heroes such as Angela Davis, she charged the audience to form nonhierarchical networks of flexible solidarity, coalitions of conscience, made up of people who would devote themselves to upending the status quo. Everyone loved it. Nobody seemed to notice (or mind) that this was precisely the same language that radicals of all stripes have employed for at least the past fifty years.”

     Oh new (un)holy faith…

     …and a faith of (non)liberation!

” University administrators have created countless programs and policies aimed at achieving diversity and inclusion, but they shouldn’t pat themselves on the back yet.

“That was essentially the message one diversity guru advised at a recent ;radical social change’ conference, arguing educators need to shift their focus to ‘collective liberation’ to better advance the social justice cause.

“Our diversity, equity and social justice work has to embrace new tools. It has to take on forms to get at those old roots [of oppression] in different ways,” said Tanya Williams, a former higher education diversity official who now works as a facilitator for the LeaderShape Institute.”

     And so rooted in faith, that the faithful now seek pilgrimages!

“Lewis University is seeking a new University Minister to ‘encourage students to live and understand social justice from a Catholic perspective.’

“The new ‘University Minister, Coordinator of Social Justice Formation’ will be tasked with responsibilities such as leading ‘pilgrimages to locations significant to the movement for social justice’ and organizing the school’s annual social justice retreat.”

     I’m sure (anti)Pope Franky would be so proud…


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