When people came to Jesus for teaching, healing or advice, he understood their context and their background. It did not matter if the person was a woman, Gentile, slave, or tax collector, he knew the complex systems that offered either privilege or oppression. He also understood the intricate ways in which those people interacted with their society.
Today, we contend with similar social structures that divide people— by race, gender, sexuality, ability, class, and religion. But there is no single, universal experience of those who are oppressed. A simple way to illustrate this is by considering race and gender, as it relates to average wage. On average, a white woman earns about 78 cents for every dollar a white man earns. A black woman earns about 64 cents on average, while Hispanic women earn about 54 cents. As a result, it is vital for people of faith to fully understand the complex and myriad ways in which oppressions interrelate. This has been called intersectionality. The term refers to the social, economic, and political ways in which identity-based systems of oppression and privilege connect, overlap, and influence one another.
At First Parish, each month we will consider a different lived reality through books, movies, videos, websites, or articles. Toward the end of the month, we will come together to talk about a specific intersection. Topics we’ll look at in the first half of 2017 include: race, class, legal status, ability, religion, and gender/sexuality.