Justin Trudeau is not a feminist superhero.

Justinjustin-trudeau-yoga_650x400_71459338988 Trudeau is a feminist. We all know this since he says it every single time he’s interviewed. The media is obsessed with this narrative and Trudeau is regularly accused of ‘trolling the internet’ for posting pictures which revel in hyper-masculinity.

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Much of Trudeau’s appeal is that he is a conventionally attractive white male who does yoga, charity boxing and loves kids. Almost as much as Barack Obama does. This is not ‘trolling the internet’. It is part of a deliberate campaign of image management – just like every other politician on the planet. David Cameron taking up yoga would not make him a better prime minister – nothing can compensate for the destructive and deeply misogynistic and racist policies that the Tory party has developed. Likewise, an attractive prime minister who enjoys a photo opportunities with babies – of the human and panda varieties – does not automatically guarantee good policies or even a commitment to feminism.

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It is a failing of our culture and lack if critical consumption of media that we are infatuated with a prime minister who is under the age of 60 and has all his hair. We’ve learned nothing from the debacle of Tony Blair and ‘Blair’s Babes’.

 

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Trudeau grew up in the public eye. He knows the value of a carefully cultivated media construction, which is both serious and playful. It’s clear he is willing to be silly in the public eye but posing in a pool with his family isn’t a policy document. Before he gets acclaimed as the greatest prime minister ever, it’s best to have a passing acquaintance with his policies before we repeat the embarrassment of Barack Obama winning the Nobel Peace Prize for promising nuclear non-proliferation only 9 months after being inaugurated – what with Obama’s record of military intervention in the following years not being exactly on the side of ensuring World Peace. At the rate the media is going with it’s coverage of Trudeau: Feminist Superhero, he’ll win Women of the Year 2016, which is only slightly less embarrassing than Glamour voting Caitlyn Jenner despite the fact that Jenner is a republican who does not support a single right of women, including reproductive justice,  and the feting of Kellie Maloney erasing pesky issues like homophobia, racism and domestic violence (it’s worth noting here that attempted strangulation is a huge risk factor for fatal intimate partner violence).

The fact that a Trudeau has gone on record claiming to be a feminist is a good thing. It is essential that world leaders understand that women are oppressed as a class, but saying the words ‘I’m a feminist’ aren’t enough. They have to be followed through with actions and Justin Trudeau has simply not done enough for women for him to celebrated yet. A commitment to access to abortion for all women should be a basic requirement in a politician – not a cause for celebration. I have yet to read any statements from Trudeau on reproductive justice – something Aboriginal women are consistently denied.

His tax breaks are currently aimed at middle class families with a commitment to increasing contributions from the wealthy 1% and not those living in poverty, which isn’t exactly a Brave New World in political promises. The 2014 Liberal conference pledged to research a basic minimum income for all residents with the promise of Ontario trialling it. There are also promises around prescription charges, which are incredibly expensive particularly if you have disabilities or a long-term illness and no health insurance. This is all under discussion with some of Trudeau’s tax reforms conflicting with the research proposals on a universal basic income. A universal basic income is an inherently feminist policy. If Trudeau’s government follows through with these recommendations it will have an immediate impact on poverty, which disproportionately impacts women and all Aboriginal Peoples (First Nation, Inuit, and Metis).

Aboriginal communities across Canada experience systemic poverty and the consequences of Colonial practises which continue to this day, with the final residential school not closing until 1996. Access to healthcare, education, employment, and support services are sub-standard in many communities. Aboriginal women experience domestic and sexual violence and abuse at much higher rates than other Canadian women – including that perpetrated by white men. Aboriginal women are more likely to have their children taken into foster care if they exhibit trauma-symptoms caused by male violence. They are less likely to be given access to support services and are far more likely to be blamed for their experiences of violence.

Substance use is common in Aboriginal communities and is directly linked to trauma and poverty.  Many communities have taken extreme measures to support young people, particularly alcohol consumption and huffing. It’s not unusual to hear of RCMP officers stationed in remote communities dealing in illegal substances, including alcohol in those where it is banned. Racist and misogynistic violence against Aboriginal peoples by police is common at the national, provincial and local levels. “Starlight tours”, the practise of dumping Aboriginal peoples outside of the city limits by Saskatoon police was common in the 1990s – there is little documented evidence of it happening at other times but even the chief of police in Saskatoon believes it happened(s). These “starlight tours” resulted in the deaths by hypothermia of a number of people including Rodney Naistus, Lawrence Wegner and Neil Stonechild. I’ve yet to have heard any policies from Trudeau which will deal with these issues.

One promise Trudeau has already instituted is holding an inquiry into the missing and murdered Aboriginal women. Estimates suggest more than 4000 women disappeared during the last 30 years – the police, of course, have a lower number of 1200. The police of Canada aren’t exactly trustworthy when it comes to recording crimes against Aboriginal people – and aren’t exactly free of perpetrators either. This inquiry is absolutely essential to address Canada’s current racist and misogynist polices which have resulted in the abuse, trauma, disappearance and murder of Aboriginal women. However, this is not Trudeau’s policy but the consequence of decades of activism by Aboriginal women and their families culminating in a very distressing report written by Human Rights Watch on the disappearance and murder of Aboriginal women along highway 16, or Highway of Tears, in British Columbia.

If this inquiry is undertaken appropriately, and avoids the incompetence and possibilities of corruption seen in the UK’s Chilcot Inquiry into the war in Iraq, it will fundamentally change the way we understand Canada both historically and currently. However, Trudeau announcing that an inquiry will take place is not a sign of his commitment to feminism. His commitment will be demonstrated by ensuring that the voices of Aboriginal peoples are given priority during it and when any recommendations are put into place.

The inquiry will also need to address the disproportionate number of Aboriginal women forced into prostitution and other forms of sexual exploitation due to poverty, misogyny and racism. Trudeau supports the decriminalisation of the ‘sex industry’. This is not just the women, children and men forced into selling their bodies but includes decriminalising those who profit from the sexual exploitation of women.  There is nothing feminist about decriminalising pimps and there is nothing feminist about ignoring the fact that many of the missing and murdered Aboriginal women were vulnerable because they had no options other than prostitution. A decriminalisation policy which ignores systemic racism and misogyny within Canada is not feminist.

Before lauding Trudeau a feminist superhero, we need to see the following:

  • immediate investment in education and healthcare
  • a real commitment to reproductive justice ensuring that abortion and birth control are easily available across Canada, as well as recognition that poverty and racism impact on how women access reproductive justice. This requires an overhaul of the welfare system, foster care, and access to free prescriptions, dental, eyesore etc for all who need it.
  • Universal basic income
  • Federal control over child maintenance so that it is not a lottery sweepstakes for mothers
  • Fundamental overhaul of child contact to recognise the ways in which abusive fathers harm their children and former partners through contact starting with recognising that a man who abuses his partner is committing child abuse.
  • massive investment in women’s services including refuges, homeless accommodation, and rape crisis centres
  • Exiting services
  • massive investment in housing, particularly on reservations some of which still do not have access to appropriate clean water and energy.
  • Ensuring that his commitment to action on climate change recognises how it disproportionately impacts Aboriginal communities and that support for the Keystone XL pipeline does not address this.

As it stands, Trudeau has the potential to be a transformative prime minister dedicated to instituting feminist policies, but he isn’t there yet and the obsession with his looks is simply demeaning to us all.

 

 

Further reading:

 “Those Who Take Us Away: Abusive Policing and Failures in Protection of Indigenous Women and Girls in Northern British Columbia, Canada,” – Human Rights Watch

Red River Women – BBC

No more Stolen Sisters – Amnesty Canada

Missing and Murder Aboriginal Girls and Women – Native Women’s Association of Canada

Canada’s Missing: Thousands of Murdered or Missing Women – Al Jazeera

National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls

Images:

Image 1: Justin Trudeau – twitter

Image 2: Bespoke Films/ Daily Mail

Image 3:  Rachel J./Twitter

Image 4: Maude Chauvin

So Amazon’s search algorithm links Ms Marvel comic book to?

I wanted a copy of the new Ms Marvel, who is a Muslim teenager from New Jersey, and Amazon suggested I might also need a teacher’s handbook on extremism.

Oddly, I was actually looking for female superheroes for my kid.

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(and if anyone can find me a copy which is not £33, I’d be eternally grateful)

#DickheadDetox Donald Trump for being a White Supremacist

 

Donald Trump’s recent public statements on migrant workers don’t need to be deconstructed: they are racist and xenophobic.

But, he isn’t an anomaly. Trump represents the core of the Republican Party. Dismissing Trump as a joke or ‘mad’ is to fundamentally misunderstand American politics. It ignores the entirety of American history starting at colonization and continues through US foreign policy and domestic policies on housing, welfare and healthcare.

After all, there’s already a giant wall between Texas and Mexico. Trump wanting to expand it doesn’t make him more racist than the men who built it in the first place.
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Children banned from school fair for being poor

A primary school in Flushing, Queens has prevented 100 of their students from attending a school carnival hosted by the PTA because the kids’ parents did not pay the $10 fee. Instead of spending 45 minutes playing on bouncy castles and inflatable slides and eating popcorn, the 100 kids were stuck inside the school auditorium watching Disney movies.

The New York Post claims that the carnival was a fundraising activity hosted by the PTA during school hours but the decision to include children was made by the school principal. The PTA raised $2000 – £3000.

Even if these were the children of millionaires who were too lazy to pay, these children didn’t deserve to be isolated and humiliated the way they were. No child deserves to be treated this way.

The fact is, though, that these children were mostly from migrant Chinese families living in extreme poverty. They didn’t pay because $10 was needed for groceries and rent. And, any adult with an ounce of compassion should know that. None of the adults in this situation behaved appropriately. Even if the decision was the principals, the teachers and members of the PTA should have stood up to her. Other parents should have stepped in and raised a stink.

All schools are chronically underfunded and the situation for poor neighbourhoods in the US is catastrophic. Fundraising for schools is absolutely necessary but putting fundraising above the emotional wellbeing of children is just disgusting.

I’ve been thinking about this since I first read the article this morning and I just can’t get the image of 100 kids shoved in an auditorium being punished for being poor out of my head. The distress and the heartbreak of children too young to understand why they were being punished. I just don’t understand how any professional or parent could sit back and watch this without standing up for those kids.

I have to ask if those children would have been excluded if they were mostly white.

 

 

 

 

Disney is making a movie about a white dude colonising Sudan for his daughter

When Media Diversified  tweeted out the article “DISNEY IS MAKING A MOVIE ABOUT A WHITE DAD DECLARING HIS DAUGHTER THE #PRINCESSOFNORTHSUDAN.“, I had to read it twice just to make sure I was quite following the conversation: A man wants his daughter to feel like she’s a real princess and colonised a piece of the Sudan to make her one. And, he actually did it. Instead of pointing out, ya know, the racism, Disney is going to make a film about a Daddy making his little Princess a Princess by stealing someone else’s land.

I don’t really have any words to accurately express how horrific this is: the celebration of colonialism and imperialism as good parenting makes a mockery of everything.

Just read this: DISNEY IS MAKING A MOVIE ABOUT A WHITE DAD DECLARING HIS DAUGHTER THE #PRINCESSOFNORTHSUDAN.

Second wave feminism and racism

Erasing women of colour from their participation in the second wave feminist movement is racism.

Claiming racism didn’t exist in second wave feminism is racism.

It is entirely possible for both statements to be accurate. Claiming that one is true and the other is not is also racism.

10 reasons why single mums are great in bed.

The Metro is renown for its inability to accurately report on male violence against women and girls. Personally, I’m a huge fan of the article which suggests that Dr. Melvin Morse was justified in waterboarding his step-daughter because he researched near-death experiences in children. That was truly an awe-inspiring piece of journalism. Granted, I’m still slightly perturbed about the fact that their staff can’t tell the difference between bad sex and rape, but that’s only to be expected in a newspaper that thinks sexual violence is entertainment.

Today’s evidence of The Metro’s Misogyny is 10 reasons why single mums are great in bed.

First off we have the: unrealistic, patronising and downright freaking dangerous assumptions about single mothers:

There are plenty of things single mums have mastered the art of – multi-tasking, compromise and patience to name a few.

But it’s not just the ability to breathe deeply and count to ten that they rock at.

When it comes to sex, single mums have got it going on – and it’s got nothing to do with gratitude.

‘Compromise’ being code for doing exactly what their male partner wants regardless of their own pleasure. After all, no one ever talks about men “compromising” during sex. This is always the woman’s job. And, what’s with the obsession with insisting single mothers are still viable fucktoys?

And, they can fuck right off with the patience and ability to count to ten horseshit. Single mothers aren’t Mary Poppins in Ultimo. In the UK, many can’t afford Ultimo since they are living in poverty whilst their ex-partner commits child abuse by refusing to financially support his children. They multi-task because they have NO choice. Multi-tasking and patience don’t exactly come with the new hormones after you push a baby out of your vagina (or after a c-section).

1. Body confidence

When you’ve pushed a human being out of your vagina, suddenly something like a 3-inch stretch mark carries less significance.

Trust me on this one, you don’t want more detail.

I’m so glad that Katy Horwood thinks all single mothers have great body confidence. I’ve never met a woman who was actually confident about their body – never mind women who are juggling work with childrearing without help. But, hey, let’s pretend single mothers don’t actually livein a white supremacist, capitalist patriarchy and are required to pass the Patriarchal Fuckability Test whilst cooking dinner (or shoving chicken nuggets and chips in the oven because they are exhausted).

We also need to be totally honest here – there is a reason the images of single mothers that accompany the article feature young, attractive white women: because even Horwood doesn’t believe fat women can have body confidence. And, we all know that Black single mothers are pretty much the scions of satan walking the earth. There is a reason the term reproductive justice was coined by Black Women and it isn’t because they were worried about looking sexy for random dudes reading the Metro. Being poor is just too tacky to mention. And, we won’t mention disabled mothers. Who wants to fuck them?

2. Appreciation

There’s nothing like Peppa Pig on loop for the last 36 months and daily conversations about the pros and cons of a roller-skating disco party to encourage gentle enquiries about the availability of beds at your local mental health hospital.

If you want your date to cry with joy for just leaving the house, date a single mum – thankful for a parking ticket if it means they can have a conversation with another adult about something other than Disneyland, can you imagine what they’re like in the sack.

Single mothers are so desperate to be fucked that they are grateful for a dude shoving their penis in them. It doesn’t matter how horrible or abusive a man is, single mothers are so desperate for sex they’ll do anything (obviously this doesn’t apply to fat women or lesbians, because they don’t count as the acceptable face of “single mothers”

3. Hot sex and lots of it

Your date gets out once a month and has a babysitter until 10.30pm.

Cinema? Art gallery? Walk along the Thames? LOL.

Single mothers: always gagging for it. You don’t even have to pretend you actually want to date them. They’ll be so desperate they’ll shag you in the backseat of a Mini in a Tescos parking lot.

4. No small talk

And if she’s lucky enough to have a free evening, not only will you get the reverse cowgirl instead of a stroll through Richmond park but you’ll also get the pleasure of some serious zeds after.

If you think you’ve mastered the art of dozing off after a shag, try three nights of unbroken sleep in the last four years.

Let the snooze off begin.

Because, really, who the fuck wants to actually talk to a single mother. You might have to learn their name or something.

5. Condoms

If there is one thing guaranteed to make a woman stringent about birth control, it’s solo child rearing.

The only unexpected surprise she wants from you is the ability to get it up again 10 minutes after your last orgasm.

Gosh, who knew that birth control was TOTALLY the responsibility of the woman? Granted, I’m a single mother so maybe my perception is skewed but don’t men have the penis that the condom goes on? Are they no longer capable of putting one on themselves? Or, saying no to sex without a condom?

6. Wet wipes

Always in a single mum’s handbag. Handy.

Apparently, there’s now a law banning men from buying wet wipes. Who knew?

7. Biological clocks

Tick, tick, tick.

Is the scary sound you will not be hearing from your single mum girlfriend after two months of dating.

Been there, done it… now where were we, ah yes – orgasms.

Cus, it’s not like men’s fertility and the quality of their sperm doesn’t deteriorate with age. Or, men might want to have children. Or, women who don’t want to have children. Or, non-single mothers are so desperate to get pregnant they’ll fuck anyone.

8. They know what they want

When time is precious and adult interaction scarce, suddenly getting things right first time matters a lot.

Forget fumbling sex and not knowing what’s working or not – single mums spell it out.

And without the luxury of Sunday lie-ins and seven day-a-week shag options, single mums make sure it counts – and rarely get headaches.

Single mums never get headaches and women that do: well, they’re just hateful. Who gives a shit about consent when a dick is involved?

Course, if you are still having ‘fumbling sex’ over the age of 21, the problem is you. Not the women you’re dating.

9. Role play

Spending the majority of her waking life barking orders, when it comes to role play in the bedroom, single mums have it wrapped up.

You’ve been a bad boy, straight to bed with no supper!

Ya hear me.

Because women who aren’t single mothers are incapable of expressing their sexual desires. Or, something.

10. But know how to cuddle like a pro too

Just don’t ask for milk.

Because this isn’t creepy at all.

Katy Horwood is supposedly a relationships expert – one steeped in misogyny with a soupçon of racism. Just for funsies.

Dr. Stuart H Russell: a man not afraid to show his racist, misogynistic side

This charming email, from a Dr. Stuart H Russell, explains why rape culture exists: because women are sex-crazed animals and immigrant.s

David Osborne is correct – and I would add that when women revert back to a decent, modest lifestyle amongst the male population, instead of cavorting around like rutting, sex crazed animals, the better for all concerned. Such conduct may well have evolved naturally amongst males but is most certainly alien for females.

Marxism, feminism and the likes of the disgusting feminoids of groups like Vagenda are to blame for increasing levels of misogyny and violence towards women, as are the rising numbers of immigrants pouring into the UK, especially from places like Africa and the Indian sub continent.
That would be this charming Dr. Stuart H Russell. I cannot adequately express my feelings at Dr. Russell choosing to share his wisdom with me.

Isis and the Nazis

I have never been a fan of genocidal top trumps: where people actually have discussions about which genocide was “worse” and then get into semantics about the definitions of ‘worse’ and ‘genocide’. These discussions inevitably focus on two people: Hitler and Stalin. Using scientific methods to commit mass murder and its location within Europe are the two reasons given for the Nazi genocide’s place as the Number 1 World’s Worst Genocide – Stalin may have killed more people but he didn’t have Science. Not that I’m arguing for ‘most people murdered’ to be a definition of the worst genocide in human history – that type of discussion is inherently racist because it ignores European genocides committed in Africa and North and South America throughout history. We use this language of ‘worst’ so we can pontificate on the theory of ‘Never Again’ whilst cheerfully committing or financially supporting genocide across the globe.

Us Europeans, we totally learned our lessons about the evils of killing people after the Holocaust: except for those small issues of the former Yugoslavia, Iraq, Syria, French troops in Algeria and every other war and major human rights abuse across the world funded by our government directly or indirectly through our support of the arms trade and our ever-increasing demand for natural resources from oil to diamonds. Profits before people erases the stench of genocide and mass murder from white men living in mansions in Essex.

We need to be clear here: Never Again is a bullshit statement. Millions of people were directly and indirectly involved in the Nazi mass murders of Jewish people, Roma, Sinti, Soviet POWs, gay men and ‘asocial’ – a category that includes women who were lesbian or who worked as prostitutes. It’s not like the Soviet army marched into Auschwitz in January 1945 to discover that genocide had been an official Nazi policy. People were involved in building concentration, slave labour and death camps. Cattle cars with dying people in them traveled through towns. 34 000 Jewish people were murdered at Babi Yar in one week in September 1941 by the Einsatzgruppen: mass murder on this scale had witnesses – and witnesses who were not directly involved in the genocide.

The Nazi genocide was not committed by Hitler, Goebbels and a couple of other people. It was committed by huge numbers of people living across Europe and indirectly supported by countries like the UK, US, Canada, Spain, Switzerland who denied entry to Jewish, Roma, Sinti families desperately trying to escape.

We also knew it was happening. The British press was reporting mass murder in 1942. In July of that year, the New York Times ran an article about the killing centre in Chelmno. This idea that no one knew about the genocide is a post-war myth designed to minimise responsibility of those directly and indirectly involved. And, we need to be brutally clear here: the Nazis may have started the genocide but they were well supported by members of all the countries they invaded: from Poland to France and the USSR.

Nothing that challenges the liberal, Western view of themselves as saviours of humanity is allowed to exist though. So, we prance about saying Never Again with completely straight faces even though genocide has continued non-stop since 1945 and our country continues to sell arms to anyone who can afford to buy them, despite knowing they were selling to governments, mercenaries, terrorists, and criminal gangs.

This is why I was so incensed with this statement by Grace Dent in an article today in the Independent*:

In Isis we are observing a level of atrocity towards mankind that, post-Nazism, we hoped we would never again witness. But with Isis there’s no excuse for not knowing what “they” are up to. There will no big post-war reveal where we can wring our hands saying, “Well, this is awful, but we had no idea”.

Isis are committing war crimes on a daily basis. But, this isn’t the first time we’ve seen this level of war crimes of genocide since 1945. We just don’t give a shit about the genocide in Cambodia or Syria or the 40 women who are raped every hour in the Congo. We know about these war crimes, like we knew about the Nazi treatment of people with disabilities, but still we do nothing. Instead, Grace Dent claims that Isis are engaged in a “level of atrocity” not seen since the Nazis. I suspect the Kurdish communities slaughtered by Saddam Hussein using British technology would beg to differ.

This idea of genocidal top trumps is lazy, inaccurate journalism. War crimes are happening every single day and we do nothing. People are dying in war zones not just from from weapons but from lack of healthcare (Palestine), clean water, sanitation and food. Why aren’t we talking about the millions of people who are forced to depend on NGOs for food – who are dying of starvation because profit is considered more important than people, whilst the IMF supports rich countries in their exploitation of others. Isis are a violent organisation who are committing mass murder – but they aren’t the only group currently engaged in war crimes today. The crimes committed by Isis cannot be decontextualised from the war crimes and genocidal practises of hundreds of other groups across the globe.

We need to discuss why 3 teenage girls from England flew out to join Isis despite knowing the crimes they are committing – just as we should ask why former British soldiers join ‘security forces’ to work as mercenaries in war zones knowing that they will be committing war crimes. And, why can Grace Dent write an article insisting that these 3 teenage girls not be allowed back into the UK when former mercenaries can return to draw army pensions?

Because these two questions are connected. And, how we define genocide and war crimes is a huge part of why the UK can pretend its the saviour of Africa whilst engaged in deliberate policies to extract the natural resources of the second largest continent in the world without giving a thought to the people we are killing in order to have diamonds.

* For an analysis of the extremely problematic content of the rest of the article check out the twitter stream @WritersofColour

Is sexism still acceptable when racism isn’t?

I’ve seen this sentence used numerous times in the past few weeks in feminist blogs and online discussions and it horrifies me. The idea that racism is no longer acceptable comes from such a place of privilege that I struggle to understand how someone could genuinely believe this. UKIP have increased their membership and won a local election. They dominate the media. The Tories anti-immigration policies are inherently racist and are getting stronger because they are appealing to racist voters. This is with discussing the lack of representation of Black* people in the media and the higher echelons of business and industry. To claim that racism is no longer acceptable is to perpetuate white supremacist culture. It completely erases the experiences of Black people and actively implies they are making shit up when they point out racism. It is an asinine statement to make and those making it need to do some self-reflection on their own racist behaviour.

Setting up racism and sexism as a dichotomy also completely erases the lives of women of colour. It assumes that the experiences of white women with sexism are qualitatively worse than Black men with racism. It ignores the fact that Black women experience both racism and sexism and these cannot be separated. It also completely negates any discussion of class – both within and outwith racism and sexism.

Feminists need to stop using the phrase “why is sexism still acceptable when racism isn’t” and start reflecting on their own participation and privilege within white supremacy culture. We need to challenge women who believe this and we need to start acknowledging that racism and sexism are not separate entities: that they work together and that all white women have privilege over Black women and that poverty does not erase this privilege. An analysis of women as a class requires understanding how classism, racism, misogyny, and lesbophobia work together to oppress all women but that those oppressions are experienced very differently for individual women. Misogyny was the first form of oppression but that does not mean it exists outwith other forms of oppression now – or that there is a hierarchy of oppression.

The theory of intersectionality is important and it needs to be reclaimed from those who have not bothered to read Kimberle Crenshaw’s work.

 

*I’m using Black as a political category with the understanding that racism is experienced differentially within/ outwith specific communities.