The Art of Intersectionality

Intersectionality is the interconnection and overlap between groups of social categorization, noting that each categorization has associated disadvantages and discrimination within society.

As the Art of Intersectionality initiative has now come to an end, we would like to take the time to reflect on the event. All HBA1 students had the opportunity within their section classrooms during class breaks to represent pieces of their identity on a section-specific art project. This project entailed students collaboratively painting on a canvas together with their section mates and was inspired by the concept of the beauty of intersectionality. Students were prompted with the question, “Which parts of your identity/your loved ones’ identities do you think have played the biggest role in your life/their lives?” The following legend was used, showing an aspect of identity of intersectionality corresponding to a a specific colour.

Intersectionality is the interconnection and overlap between groups of social categorization. Note that each categorization has associated disadvantages and discriminations within society. These aspects of identity that students chose to include on their section’s canvas were social categorizations that they identified with either personally or through a loved one.

We suggest you take a moment to reflect on how these elements of intersectionality may play a role in your own life as well as how you can be an ally to others who may experience these discrimination through these elements of intersectionality. 

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Race

A group of people that appear to be similar based on physical/genetic traits.

Nationality

The state of being patriotic towards a country.

Ethnicity

The dynamic sense of belonging to a social group that has a common national/cultural tradition.

Religion

The belief in a particular system of faith and worship.

Mental/physical disability/illness

A condition that limits an individual’s movements, senses, or activities. This can present itself at any stage of life.

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Social Class

A division of a society based on socio-economic status.

Age

The number of years a person has lived.

Below is a circle that illustrates how intersectionality operates. The outside ring has forces and structures which cultivate the systematic biases found in the blue ring. In turn, the blue ring affects the inner green circle. These factors influence an individual’s unique position of power, privilege and identity. You could also work through the circle in the opposite direction. Someone’s power, privilege and identity can affect where they identify within the inner green circle and in turn affect their experiences with biases in the blue ring. These interactions and feelings also shape their view on topics found in the outer green circle. Everyone’s stance at the end is traced back through the different aspects of their life that stemmed from their unique circumstance.

Ally@Ivey encourages the Ivey community to think critically on the systems and occurrences in society that can shape the experiences that one has, the beliefs and associations that surround different categorizations, and the interconnectedness working from the outside of this circle to the inside and from the inside to the outside. Consider how each layer is connected to other layers. Contemplate the difference between your circumstance of privilege and someone else’s. Contrast the way your identity has been shaped and the way someone else’s identity could have been shaped.

As a parting reflection for the Art of Intersectionality, try reflecting on the following questions:

1) What parts of diversity and inclusion would you like to learn more about?

2) How could someone’s identity affect their ability to fit into an organizational culture?

Thank you to all those who participated in decorating their section’s canvas and simultaneously reflected on the diversity within HBA1 sections. Thank you Ivey for making the first Art of Intersectionality event a success. 

Written by Rebecca Adkins