If I were to tell you that I was on the Co-op’s Intersectionality Committee, you would probably smile and nod and have no idea what I meant. Intersectionality is a term that has gained traction lately among activist circles, though it has been around since the 1980s. Coined by law scholar and critical race theorist Kimberlé Crenshaw, she wrote, “Consider an analogy to traffic in an intersection, coming and going in all four directions. Discrimination, like traffic through an intersection, may flow in one direction, and it may flow in another. If an accident happens in an intersection, it can be caused by cars traveling from any number of directions and, sometimes, from all of them.”
So why does Willy Street Co-op need an Intersectionality Committee? And what are we doing?
Willy Street Co-op is a fantastic resource, owned by you. You are, most likely, a person from the Madison area who is devoted to local and natural food, environmental consciousness, and your community. The Co-op is deeply intrinsic to Madison, devoted to lifting up our community, and to, according to the bylaws, “support[ing] and participat[ing] in the movement for progressive fundamental social change.”
Madison’s racial problems have been on a lot of our radars lately. From 2012’s Race To Equity report, to the killing of Tony Robinson, we know there’s a problem. It is important for the Co-op’s staff and Owners to acknowledge how lucky we are to have access to, and the ability to utilize, our Co-op, and to in turn make it accessible for everyone in our community.
And while race is at the forefront of our consciousness right now, addressing race as it intersects with other privileges and forms of oppression is an important aspect of change. Making the Co-op a better place for members of our community who come from diverse privileges relating to gender, sexuality, class, ability, and ethnicity are also important aspects of this work. From navigable aisles, to being addressed by the correct gender pronoun, intersectionality applies to us all.
With that understanding, the Intersectionality Committee was created. The Intersectionality Committee has been appointed by the Board to look at the Co-op’s policies and procedures through a lens of diversity, inclusion, equity, and accessibility. We’re interested in helping codify and strengthen the Co-op’s commitment to the highly diverse population in our community.
The Intersectionality Committee is made up of Owners and Board members. By working from a framework that is both within and without the Co-op’s daily operations, and by bringing our diverse and extensive skill sets of social action and policy making, we’re hoping to create effective and long lasting changes to the Co-op. These changes will positively affect Owners, staff, and the extended community at large.