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Intersectionality & Higher Education

Theory, Research, & Praxis

Edited By Donald Jr. Mitchell, Jakia Marie and Tiffany Steele

Intersectionality is a term coined by Kimberlé Crenshaw in 1989. A scholar of law, critical race theory, and Black feminist thought, Crenshaw used intersectionality to explain the experiences of Black women who – because of the intersections of race, gender, and class – are exposed to exponential forms of marginalization and oppression. Intersectionality & Higher Education documents and expands upon Crenshaw’s ideas within the context of U.S. higher education. The text includes theoretical and conceptual chapters on intersectionality; empirical research using intersectionality frameworks; and chapters focusing on intersectional practices. The volume may prove beneficial for graduate programs in ethnic studies, higher education, sociology, student affairs, and women and gender studies alike.
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Chapter Twenty-Three: Beyond Identity Politics: Equipping Students to Create Systemic Change

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← 268 | 269 → CHAPTER TWENTY-THREE

Equipping Students to Create Systemic Change

COLETTE SEGUIN BEIGHLEY, CARRIE SIMMONS, AND EMILY WEST

In the second year of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Resource Center at Grand Valley State University, we began to understand that our work must go beyond identity politics to include the many social justice issues that impact students. We wanted to expand our analysis beyond individual acts of discrimination to understanding larger intersecting systems of oppression that perpetuate injustice. “Change U: Social Justice Training” was created to provide both the intersectional analyses and the skills necessary to participate in transformational change that moves beyond individual activism to collective liberation. Collaborating with community partners, this semester-long social justice training engages students around work to dismantle systems of oppression.

It was students who led us on a journey away from identity politics to a more systemic analysis. In 2010, two years after the opening of the LGBT Resource Center, a sophomore who self-identified as queer and Chicano challenged our center staff to support the National Equality March for LGBT Rights. At that time, the major national LGBT organizations had not yet signed on to support that action, and our political view was still very much tied to a mainstream gay rights agenda. This student held several marginalized identities and had participated in activist ← 269 | 270 → work in his hometown of Chicago around the intersections of immigration, labor, and LGBT justice. He had experience...

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