food for thought: intersectionality and intervention

The past week brought us some thoughtful pieces on the hard work of being meaningfully intersectional in our communities.

Arthur Chu @ The Daily Beast writes about white (and male) saviors, and what it takes to ally yourself, as a person of privilege, with the disenfranchised in a given situation or society:

Even though I remain enormously glad I did write that article everyone shared and hopeful that it makes a difference, I don’t feel personally pleased or gratified that people liked it. I get worried when I catch myself feeling that way, because feeling gratified and validated and lapping up the praise—as Chris Rock would put it, eagerly accepting “cookies” for doing and saying shit everyone should be doing and saying—would be easy. And the easy path is the path to the Dark Side—male feminists who get off on female fans telling them how awesome they are should keep the horrible visage of Hugo Schwyzer in their mind to remind themselves where that path of temptation leads, the way Luke Skywalker does with Darth Vader’s mask or Frodo does with the Ringwraiths.

Tech journalist Leigh Alexander on what to do and not do when you are a bystander or witness to someone else’s experience of sexism (or [insert discriminatory action here]):

Instead of Tweeting “it sucks what’s happening to @thisperson, why are people so evil and why is this industry so terrible,” consider something more like “I support @thisperson, author of this impactful paper [link]” or “I respect @thisperson, one of the best speakers on [topic] that I’ve ever seen.” Be sincere and not flowery or excessive — sometimes when people are trying to diminish someone because of their gender, talking about their achievements instead is the best countermeasure. Keep the individual at the center of the story, not the people harassing her nor the fact of her harassment. Don’t say “it’s so brave, what you do.” Say “I like something you created.”

Erin McKelle @ RH Reality Check shares some of what she’s learned about being intersectional in her work:

I started blogging about reproductive rights issues during high school, and a lot of the feedback I received from editors and feminist peers was based around a lack of inclusivity. At first, I felt defensive, as most people do when they get called out. But as I thought more critically about my writing, I realized that the knowledge and sources I was pulling from weren’t intersectional.

While Erin is speaking from the perspective of reproductive rights issues, Fobazi Ettarh @ In the Library with the Lead Pipe challenges our profession in particular to be intersectional in more than just a lip-service way:

“Diversity” is a hot button term in librarianship. Every few months, there is a new editorial about diversifying the profession. As the field remains mostly white and middle class, each author reflects on the disparity and presents their ideas on how to increase and improve diversity recruiting of both students and faculty. Within the past year, articles such as “The MLS and the Race Line” and “Diversifying the LIS Faculty” have continued the conversation about recruitment of people of color (POC) into the field. However, there is not nearly enough discussion on how to remove barriers for librarians and library students within the field. How do we make sure that both existing and aspiring librarians interact with patrons and other librarians in a manner that is respectful? The answer to that question is intersectional librarianship.

Codes of conduct are a topic of some discussion in library and archivist circles these days. Over at the Geek Feminism Blog the bloggers share how the adoption of their own code of conduct will change their approach to dealing with harassment:

With a Code in place, everyone has agreed ahead of time that these are the rules. Whether the harasser personally feels that it’s okay to — say — hug people without consent, they are bound by a harassment policy that forbids it. It takes the conflict out of the realm of values and concepts — “is it okay to hug people without consent?” — and into the realm of facts — “is this person hugging people without consent?”

And finally, Anna North @ The New York Times offered up a piece on how The New Business Casual is Still Uptight, or how workplace cultures replicate themselves:

Every workplace imposes certain behavioral standards on its workers — dress this way, talk that way, get lunch here and not there. Learning these standards is, we’re told, a big part of being successful. But what do we do if they’re constantly shifting, or if we’re not even sure what they are?

Blogs of the week: Librarian Wardrobe & Microaggressions in Librarianship.

“Food for Thought” is a weekly links post. If you have links to share, drop them in comments or email them to amiablearchivists [at] gmail [dot] com for inclusion in the next week’s post. In the email, please indicate whether you want a shout-out  (or want to “hat tip” another source) for the link or not. 

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