Friday, April 22, 2016

Robert Frost saw the problem with "intersectionality", a response to Tressie McMillan Cottom

In Trickle-Down Feminism, Revisited | Dissent Magazine, Tressie McMillan Cottom says, "As someone who clearly remembers Angela Y. Davis’s Women, Race, and Class, I am skeptical that elite white women will do anything different to or for brown women, poor women, black women, queer people, and differently able-bodied women than would elite white men."

Now, Cottom is one of the better intersectionalists, someone who understands that class is more than an element to acknowledge and then dismiss when focusing on race or gender. Talking about Sanders' plan for free higher public education, she said, "Along with talking the talk about white privilege and unpacking their racist knapsacks in presidential debates, I hope that concrete discussions of concrete investments in black lives will come to matter this presidential cycle."

But as for her comment about elite white women, I'm skeptical that elite brown or black women will do anything different to or for those groups, too. I'm skeptical that elite queer people and "differently able-bodied women" will do anything different. You can find representatives of those groups in lists of the world's richest people, yet the wealth gap grows between the elite and the rest of us, regardless of our social identity.

There are many valid interpretations of Robert Frost's poem about coming to the intersection of two roads. Today, I'll go with this one: At the intersection of social identity and class, we take one road or the other, and that makes all the difference.

Related: Sanders feminists versus Clinton feminists: illustrating the main schools of contemporary feminism