Principle of Intersectionality and the Determinants of Racial Discrimination

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All of the identifiable factors that make up an individual interconnect together to form an overall perception of them as a whole. Whether this social categorization effects somebody in a positive or negative light is linked to the systemic oppression and discrimination of certain targeted social groups. Intersectionality fundamentally suggests that the connection amongst socially identifiable factors is an important effort to distort the trend of seeing them as isolated or mutually exclusive. In Marianne Bertrand’s and Sendhil Mullainathan’s article titled “Are Emily and Greg More Employable Than Lakisha and Jamal? – A Field Experiment on Labor Market Discrimination”, they discuss the misconception that “differential treatment by race is a relic of the past” and the belief of affirmative action programs producing “an environment of reverse discrimination” (pg. 257). Even though America desperately desires to be seen as a racially-level playing field, there is still an obviously unequal spectrum between black Americans’ and white Americans’ treatment and privileges.

Bertrand and Mullainathan conducted a study by sending out resumes with conventionally “white-sounding” names and “African-American-sounding” names to different jobs in an effort to view the difference in responses. The authors viewed, that “Applicants with White names need to send about 10 resumes to get one callback whereas applicants with African-American names need to send about 15 resumes.” (pg. 258) This large racial difference in callback rates is significant in depicting the reality of white Americans holding certain white privileges and conveniences over black Americans. When examining statistical data, such as “African-Americans being twice as likely to be unemployed and earn 25 percent less when they are employed” (Council of Economic Advisers, 1998), we can perceive why the job market is inherently discriminatory towards people of color and why these inequalities still exist. (pg. 257)

The experiment conducted also revealed the other aspects of differential treatment when factors of race and class intertwined. The authors found that “living in a wealthier (or more educated or Whiter) neighborhood” increased the callback rates for whites, but interestingly enough, it did not help African-Americans by living in these seemingly “better” neighborhoods (pg. 258). When race and class co-existed, the intersectionality theory worked against their favor. The intricately-tied intersection of race and class inhibited African-Americans’ opportunity of increasing social mobility and economic growth in this example.

Overall, this racial bias deeply stems from the institutional racism against African-Americans in our society as people of color have never been fully recognized as equals. Embracing the intersectional approach allows you to see how life is molded by these multifaceted social identities and provides insight into acknowledging that not all experiences are the same. If we want to understand why these inequalities exist, we cannot just simply look at race, class, or gender alone. Rather, we need to discern the intersectional effects of all of these complex factors together.

Health Inequities, Social Determinants, and Intersectionality

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Intersectionality strives to recognize that the identifiable factors of race, class, and gender do not exist independently of one another. Each identity is interwoven with the other to build the intricate system of oppression people face based on these overlapping identities. As a result, everybody experiences discrimination differently based on their social and cultural identities. The article “Health Inequities, Social Determinants, and Intersectionality”, written by Nancy López and Vivian L. Gadsden, explores the idea of how social factors other than race, class, and gender have the ability to permeate into people’s identities, producing different lived experiences amongst categories of people.

Health-inequity is one of the greater social issues amidst disparities faced by low-income families as it undermines the quality of life and opportunities for those susceptible to unfavorable circumstances. (pg. 349) López and Gadsden address both the oppression and the privilege experienced when intersecting systems of “sexual orientation, disability, language, nativity/citizenship, and social position” are taken into account, which can either “enhance or challenge” the development and lives of youth into adulthood. (pg. 352) “Invisible” social locations such as language or citizenship have received less attention than race and gender, but play an equally important role in health equity. The authors provide Crenshaw’s example of domestic violence shelters operating in ways that ignore immigrant women or non-English speaking women, despite advertising to help all women. (pg. 353) These non-explicit exclusions are a result of the sociological paradigm known as the Matrix of Domination which draws attention to the complexity of oppression faced by the intertwinement of identity factors. In this situation, identifying as a women comes with detriments in itself, but these disadvantages are further complicated by being low-class or non-native.

The authors also discuss how a person understands the importance of ensuring health, writing that it is determined by a range of “dynamic and situational identities and social positions” (pg. 350). This is influenced by an individual’s social experiences and encounters with their self-agency across “a variety of social settings” (pg. 350). It’s crucial to note the complexity of dealing with the issues that come with intersectionality even when having a strong self-agency as the structural barriers remain as prevalent deterrences. However, it’s necessary for health researchers and health providers to be aware of the social injustices and, furthermore, recognize the often overlooked groups in order to advance health equity. The Intersectional Paradigm and Alternative Visions to Stopping Domestic Violence – What Poor Women, WOC, and Immigrant Women are Teaching Us About Violence in the Family

Undoubtedly, our varied social and cultural identities hold immense significance in the way society treats us. These categories of differences engage to have an impenetrable effect on how we experience our day-to-day lives. The article titled, “The Intersectional Paradigm and Alternative Visions to Stopping Domestic Violence”, written by Natalie J. Sokoloff, delves into the misconceptions and stereotypes that poor women, women of color, and immigrant women face when discussing the issue of domestic violence.

Several studies have suggested that women of color are involved in domestic violence at much higher rates than white women. However, these studies aim to illustrate the black community in a negative light and the underlying message these “statistics” set to emulate is to ultimately link the prejudice of black communities to their alleged violence. Nevertheless, these statements prove to be false; it is someone’s “neighborhood context” that is a more accurate predictor of domestic violence rather than race or ethnicity. (pg. 410) Furthermore, the argument that “all women feel a certain way” when discussing the intersectional approach invalidates others’ experiences of prejudice. Intersectionality admits that women of all backgrounds do face discrimination, but recognizes the complexity of the prejudice when factors of race, social status, or culture are identifiable markers as well.

When considering domestic violence in immigrant of color households, Americans love to blame culture for the reason of the attacks against women. Uma Narayan describes the negative attitudes against non-American cultures and how the culture as a whole is blamed when discussing controversial topics, rather than the individual themself. She uses the example of dowry deaths in India and how Americans tend to link this to the “abnormalities” of South Asian culture in its entirety, although they don’t hold this same perspective when viewing their own country’s controversies. Despite the rate of women dying by gun-related deaths in America equating the number of deaths-by-dowry to women in India, they blame it on the individual man’s instability and not America’s nationwide culture of gun violence. (pg. 412) The intricacy of this discrimination is due to the social factors of being non-white, non-wealthy, women.

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