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IMPORTANT DEFINITIONS

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Black:

Of any human group having dark-colored skin, especially of African or Australian Aboriginal ancestry.

Womxn:

The “x” in womxn is symbolic in recognizing that gender identity is non-binary and independent of assigned sex at birth. Additionally, the “x” is also symbolic of including Black Women and Trans Black Women who have been historically excluded by White feminists using the “y” in womyn.

Gender Non-Conforming:

Denoting or relating to a person whose behavior or appearance does not conform to prevailing cultural and social expectations about what is appropriate to their gender.

Gender-Fluid:

Denoting or relating to a person who does not identify themselves as having a fixed gender.

Intersectionality:

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As described by the founder of the term (1989) Kimberle Crenshaw: “Intersectionality is a lens through which you can see where power comes and collides, where it interlocks and intersects. It’s not simply that there’s a race problem here, a gender problem here, and a class or LBGTQ problem there. Many times that framework erases what happens to people who are subject to all of these things.”

While Crenshaw is famous for coining the word, the Combahee River Collective—a group of Black feminists who’ve been meeting since 1974—were one of the firskt organizations to recognize and ground their purpose in the intersectionality of their identities. In a statement released by the collective in 1977, they establish:

“The most general statement of our politics at the present time would be that we are actively committed to struggling against racial, sexual, heterosexual, and class oppression, and see as our particular task the development of integrated analysis and practice based upon the fact that the major systems of oppression are interlocking.”

Although the Combahee River Collective did not establish the existing label, their intersectionality led them to interpret the originally feminist movement’s phrase, “The Personal is Political,” in a way that uniquely embodies what this year’s conference is all about. In the spirit of these trail blazing Womxn, we are looking beyond the agenda of the White Womxn’s feminist movement to further explore how “we are dealing with the implications of race and class as well as sex”. All the while honoring that, “even our style of talking/testifying in Black language about what we have experienced has a resonance that is both cultural and political”.

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Politics:

The activities associated with the governance of a country or other area, especially the debate or conflict among individuals or parties having or hoping to achieve power.

Institutional and Systemic Oppression:

The systematic mistreatment of people within a social identity group, supported and enforced by the society and its institutions, solely based on the person’s membership in the social identity group. Institutional Oppression occurs when established laws, customs, and practices systematically reflect and produce inequities based on one’s membership in targeted social identity groups. If oppressive consequences accrue to institutional laws, customs, or practices, the institution is oppressive whether or not the individuals maintaining those practices have oppressive intentions. Institutional Oppression creates a system of invisible barriers limiting people based on their membership in unfavored social identity groups. The barriers are only invisible to those “seemingly” unaffected by it. The practice of institutionalized oppression is based on the belief in inherent superiority or inferiority. Institutionalized oppression is a matter of result regardless of intent.

Privilege:

Privilege operates on personal, interpersonal, cultural, and institutional levels and gives advantages, favors, and benefits to members of dominant groups at the expense of members of target groups. In the United States, privilege is granted to people who have membership in one or more of these social identity groups:

White people; Able-bodied people; Heterosexuals; Males; Christians; Middle or owning class people; Middle-aged people; English-speaking people