CR3 will require that you apply the theory of intersectionality to a social problem of your choice. For this reason, for the next three weeks, I will be sharing some thoughts on social stratification and the theory of intersectionality, beginning with poverty. My goal is to provide you with insights that can help you write your next CR.
First, thank you for your reflections on the Theory of Intersectionality (TQE9) and Poverty (TQE10). I have posted some feedback, questions, and tips for you to consider as you plan for your CR3. I can’t stress enough that Intersectionality is not an identity theory (how many groups do I belong to?). This is an error I saw on some of the TQE posts and it is often a mistake students make. Avoid making this mistake. Intersectionality is a framework that focuses on how systems of power and marginalization intersect and are mechanized by social structures like laws, policies, customs, norms, ultimately reproducing social hierarchies through compounded discrimination. That may feel like a mouthful, but if you take your time with the readings- I bet you will have an aha moment and understand why so many people find this theory particularly helpful when we analyze social problems, including poverty.
In this week's learning guide, I asked that you think about poverty using an intersectional lens. What does this mean? Let’s start with a thought exercise. Consider the following questions:
· Is it possible to end poverty in the U.S? Why?
· Do people choose to be poor?
· What is the group that experiences the highest rates of poverty?
In the United States, children are the group that is most likely to be poor- Black and Indigenous children, in particular, have some of the highest rates of poverty. This means that most poor people in the United States were born into poverty- it was not their choice. And because one’s class provides access to different types of opportunities and resources (where you live, where you can go to school, what you eat, etc.…), being born into poverty has a huge impact on the lives of children. Now let’s assume you believe it is possible to do something to address the needs of poor children. Dr. Hankivsky, who wrote Intersectionality 101, proposes an intersectional framework for analyzing social problems, including poverty, could be helpful. This means that those who are interested in making society more just, for everyone, must develop policies, programs, and practices that address multiple sites of discrimination. An intersectional approach is also grounded in principles of justice, equity, resilience, and resistance, and must analyze different forms of power.
Using an intersectional lens what would it take to end childhood poverty in the U.S? First, we would want to know what groups of children are most likely to experience poverty and what social factors contribute to their condition. Then we would want to create policies, programs, and practices that meet those specific needs to change the social conditions to address the multiple sites of oppression that poor people face. This means that we will need both universal approaches (i.e. free lunch programs; universal health care for all children, and high-quality public schools, regardless of where they are located) as well as very specific ones (i.e. affordable housing in urban and rural areas, on-site child care for community college students, end the gender wage gap, paid maternity/paternity/parental leave, land back programs for Indigenous families, reparations, holistic services for veterans and their families, etc. ).
Of course, this is easier said than done, but if human history has us taught anything is that we, humans, are always trying to find a way. Even though we may not always agree, humans have never stopped dreaming and working towards fixing some of the greatest threats we face. In the US, the is a national organization that started shortly after the Civil Rights Movement, to bring attention to the rights of children and to end the discrimination that poor families face. One of their priorities is to end Childhood Poverty. You can learn more about their work here:
I hope this thought exercise is helpful. Remember that in CR3, you will have to demonstrate your knowledge of this theory by applying it to a social problem you are interested in. Start thinking about what problem you want to discuss using an intersectional lens.
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