Being effective advocates means paying attention to the ways different kinds of oppression can interact with each other. This is called intersectionality. Here are some ways that we can remember to be aware of this when working on advocacy projects.
- Disability may not be the only thing that people struggle with. They can deal with racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, xenophobia (hostility towards immigrants or foreign visitors), classism or other issues as well.
- Different kinds of oppression can interact with each other. For example it may be harder for a black autistic person to get a job in the mainstream workplace because of racial discrimination and ableism (black people are sometimes stereotyped as being bad workers, and autistic people can struggle with social interactions in interviews). A disabled immigrant may be stereotyped because they may still be learning the local language and because of their disability. Somebody who is poor may have even more difficulty with access needs because they’re less likely to be able to afford insurance to cover their needs, or find somebody with enough time to help them apply for assistance.
- Remember that people’s experiences of a form of oppression can be different from yours in very blatant or very subtle ways.
- If you are trying to understand somebody’s experiences, don’t assume you know more about their lived experiences than they do.
- It’s fine to ask respectful questions if the topic comes up and you’re confused, or to do research. However, you can’t treat any one person as your automatic educator about different forms of oppression. People are all dealing with their own problems and you should be respectful of their time and energy.
- People can make mistakes and we understand that. The best way to deal with it is to find out why something is offensive and avoid making the same mistake again.