In the earlier few weeks of our class we explored the question “who runs the world?” by reading Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s We Should All Be Feminists. Before diving into the short read, we had to come to the conclusion that privilege and oppression exist, both reside in systems, and also in individual experiences and power. Along with the ideas of privilege and oppression and systems and power, we need to understand that a multitude of facets are oppressed; such as a person’s race, sexual orientation, gender, ability/disability, class, or religion, among many. These facets of identity are interconnections in nature of social categorizations as they apply to a given individual or group.
American civil rights advocate and leading scholar of race studies, Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw, first coined the term “intersectionality” in 1989. In today’s modern world, we see mainstream media distorting the word first coined and in some ways, turning it into something more progressive. Take Adichie for example, she explores and sharpens the term feminist through her personal anecdotes, acknowledging other voices, and connecting “feminist” to systems of power. Furthermore, Beyoncé does this through her visual album, Lemonade, as well as her single, ***Flawless, which samples Adichie’s petry. You can see that Crenshaw’s main focus is simply to define intersectionality, but the media takes it further one step and analyzes the word to represent what it was originally defined.
Many marches, in an effort to achieve a louder voice for those oppressed, which picked up after President Trump’s election in January across the country. The Sister March in Pittsburgh was one of many that took place around the world. One was even held in Antarctica. In addition to the Sister March in Pittsburgh, a march developed known as the Intersectionality March. This was held in Pittsburgh’s East Liberty because of gentrification, the process of renovating a housing district so that it conforms to a middle-class taste, that the area is currently undergoing.
The Women’s March was held not only because of the presidential election outcome; the March was meant to represent all minorities in Pittsburgh and across the globe. I decided to attend the Intersectionality March with a small group of friends to represent our different backgrounds: mine being a white, gay, male, Romanian. The significance of having diverse racial groups, ethnic groups, gender minority groups, disabled groups, and many more voices is because their opinions are essential. Based on my intersectional identities, the March that I attended was vital in finding my own voice, as well as hearing others’ voices. Everyone’s voice and opinions matter because no one knows another’s life, and not everyone knows in what ways people are suppressed. This goes hand in hand with many struggles that minority groups go through, some even resulting in becoming homeless or abused because of their intersectionalities. Some are suppressed directly through abuse, and some indirectly, through verbal and psychological attacks. Simply put, we need to work on listening to each other. Things like “love is love,” and “no fascists USA,” are some ways our own voice can be heard in order to make a difference.
The March that I attended, along with the Marches that occurred around the world were forms of activism. According to the Merriam- Webster dictionary, activism is the action of using campaigning to bring about social, political, economic, environmental, or societal change. Some forms of activism range from writing letters, political campaigning, boycotts, rallies, street marches, strikes, or sit-ins and anything else creative that people could achieve.
Because people normalize oppression, it is accepted in society and negatively affects our culture. If we decide to not normalize oppression and emphasize that oppressing minorities is bad, then change can happen. This march taught me that standing up for what you believe in is more important than what people think of you. It’s more important to have your own opinions, rather than molding opinions from crowds you associate yourself with or from family. Stand up for what YOU believe in and you will be so much happier. I cannot tell you enough how empowered I am to make the world a better place after attending this event. After attending this activist event, I felt like a real and true citizen because I am a minority. I was able to stand up for what I believe in and felt like my voice was being heard.
Unfortunately, many are still oppressed for their sexual orientation, something that directly affects me. In connection with this march, there were many organizations there that supported homeless youth because sadly most of younger generation that experience this are kicked out of their homes and left out on the street. The Happy Hippies Foundation is a nonprofit organization founded by Miley Cyrus in 2014, which helps homeless LGBTQ+ youth find spaces where they are safe. The organization also is passionate about education, women’s rights, social justice, LGBT+ rights, environment, and animal welfare. This organization’s motto is that they try to “challenge each other and the world [to] stop pointless judgment.”
Donations are accepted for the funding of programs that support vulnerable populations that are privately funded. All contributions are tax-deductible allowed by the law. You can also contribute by purchasing merchandise that is sold on the website. The website also gives viewers access to digital support groups and resources for people who experience oppression.
Another organization that I recently discovered that is locally run is in Pittsburgh is Proud Haven. If you’re in the Pittsburgh area, this organization proudly serves homeless and unstable LGBTQ+ youth in the Pittsburgh region to find resources and housing options. They are always looking for volunteers for their constant updated schedule of events to help out homeless LGBTQ+ youth in need.
Lastly, you don’t even need to give your money to a cause; you can simply just stand up for what you believe in. If you have an opinion, voice it, stand up for it, do something about it! After all, Mahatma Gandhi once said, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”