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Integrating Intersectionality into Library Instruction & Programming: Understanding the Prompt

Presented at Library Instruction West 2018, Colorado Mesa University, Grand Junction, Colorado

For LIW 18 Attendees

The class and I participate with the audience in Crenshaw's talk. I sit down at the point where the first black woman's name is given, which was my real answer when I first watched the Ted Talk. I believe the instructor now has students either do the exercise in class or watch the video on their own prior to the research session.


"Intersectionality refers to the interaction between gender, race, and other categories of difference in individual lives, social practices, institutional arrangements, and cultural ideologies and the outcomes of these interactions in terms of power" (Davis, 2008, p. 68).

The Urgency of Intersectionality

Kimberlé W. Crenshaw introduced intersectionality in her 1989 paper “Demarginalizing the Intersection of Race and Sex: A Black Feminist Critique of Antidiscrimination Doctrine, Feminist Theory, and Antiracist Politics.” (18:49)

You can find Crenshaw's paper in the eBook Feminism and Politics.


Please fill out your assigned row on the Google Sheet.

In Column A, list a social issue/movement you would like to explore through an intersectional lens. It's okay if you don't have something specific in mind yet.


This essay will ask you to look at a particular social issue/problem/movement through an intersectional lens. What you're exploring in this paper are the barriers/systems/structures that contribute to inequality when gender, race, sexuality, and other categories interact together.

For example, what happens when we add the concept of race to women's rights? Does it complicate the history and definition of feminism?

1. Pick a social issue/problem/movement.

2. Explore the problems between racial/ethnic/gender/sexuality dynamics and the issue/problem/movement you choose.


Here's are two examples of intersectional investigations. You can use specific genders, sexualities, races, and ethnicities in your own explorations. Picking a topic takes research. It will take some reading to figure out how you will address your issue/movement, so if you only have a broad idea in mind for now, that's okay.

Example 1

  • Social issue/problem/movement: Black power movement
  • Apply race/gender: African-American/black women
  • After doing some exploring, I want to learn about: the relationship between the Black power movement and black women. In particular, I want to learn when/under what set of circumstances did the Black power movement begin to consider the oppression of black women more specifically. What did this lead to?

Example 2

  • Social issue/problem/movement: equal pay
  • Apply race/gender: African-American/Black women
  • After doing some exploring, I want to learn about: the particular barriers African-American/black women experience that contribute to the wage gap between white and African-American/black women. Are there some similarities between these two groups when it comes to equal pay? What are the differences? Why?