Welcome back to the FYSOP blog! Today’s topic: Intersectionality. This word comes up a lot in social justice and we are here today to dissect its meaning and explore what intersectionality looks like in the context of FYSOP.

First, a definition.

Intersectionality: NOUN
The interconnected nature of social categorizations such as race, class, and gender as they apply to a given individual or group, regarded as creating overlapping and interdependent systems of discrimination or disadvantage.

Take FYSOP. As a volunteer, you are placed into a focus area that helps to contextualize the service you will be doing throughout the week. But make no mistake, every focus area connects in some way to the nine other focus areas of FYSOP.

Sometimes the connections between two focus areas are obvious. For example, it’s pretty clear that focus areas like Environment and Food Justice have a lot in common. Food production is deeply tied to the environment, and people’s access to food is heavily affected by the environment in which they live…you get the idea.

But other focus areas intersect with each other more than you may think. Take our focus areas, Environment and Gender and Sexuality. At first thought, you may be thinking,  “What could these two topics possibly have in common? Gay trees?” But in fact, a person’s identity, including their gender and sexual orientation, greatly affects how they interact with their environment and the access they have to services in both natural and built environments.

Next up, Children and Food Justice. As children move through their childhood, they can develop either negative or positive relationships with food, depending on the attitudes of those around them. For example, according to the National Institute of Mental Health, 1 out of every 25 women will have anorexia in their lifetime. Developing a healthy relationship with food is a large obstacle that many people face during childhood.

How about Public Health and Human Rights? Well, Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights reads as follows: “Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family.” Yet despite this statement, people experiencing mental illness are more likely to be incarcerated as 73% of women in state prisons and 75% in jails have mental health problems, compared with 55% and 63% of men, respectively. This reinforces the stigmatization of mental illness, something that both the public health and human rights focus areas seek to dismantle this year.

It can be overwhelming to absorb intersectionality. After all, if all problems are connected, isn’t the world just one big mess? Nope. We think that’s reductionist and untrue. If all problems and systems are connected, that just means solutions should be, too!

In your daily lives, push yourself to examine the connections between social justice topics and consider the steps you can take in your own life to achieve equality.  We are thrilled to hear your opinions and engage in meaningful discussions about the intersectional nature of social justice during FYSOP!

With love and intersectionality,

Ellie Hitt (Environment Coordinator)
Lucas Williams (Gender and Sexuality Coordinator)


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