7 Famous Intersectional Feminists You Should Be Following

7 Famous Intersectional Feminists You Should Be Following

Women's rights are human rights and human rights are women's rights.
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Some "feminists" like to think that feminism begins with Betty Friedan and ends with Gloria Steinem. But that's nowhere near what modern feminism truly is and should be.

Betty Friedan is what modern feminists call a "white feminist." To be clear, white feminism does not mean all of its perpetrators are white. In simple terms, white feminism thrives off of the idea that all women have less privilege and power than men when in reality, white women have exponentially more privilege and power than both men and women of color. It doesn't realize the distinct experiences of a person's combined identities.

Like poet Rachel Wiley said, "white feminism is about as feminist as Dr. Pepper is a medical doctor."

Intersectional feminism, on the other hand, recognizes that separate identities of a singular person intersect in myriad ways to form unique everyday experiences based on how those identities are understood by others. This includes gender identity, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion, physical and mental ability, nationality, socio-economic status and more.

If this still doesn't make sense, here's an explanation of intersectional feminism from the woman who introduced the concept to feminist theory in 1989, Kimberlé Crenshaw:

"African-American women, like other women of color, like other socially marginalized people all over the world, were facing all kinds of dilemmas and challenges as a consequence of intersectionality, intersections of race and gender, of heterosexism, transphobia, xenophobia, ableism; all of these social dynamics come together and create challenges that are sometimes quite unique."

Here are 7 famous intersectional feminists who really know what they're doing.

1. Linda Sarsour

Linda Sarsour is a Muslim Palestinian-American activist and former director of the Arab-American Association of New York. She's also one of the co-founders of the Women’s March, the largest political demonstration in United States history that saw almost 700 sister marches worldwide, along with Tamika D. Mallory, Carmen Perez, and Bob Bland (all of whom you should be following, too). In 2016, the Obama Administration named Sarsour one of its Champions of Change, and she frequently speaks at colleges and universities across the country. Sarsour's entire life is educational activism, and her intersectional feminist mantra is crystal clear: “If you’re in a movement and you’re not following a woman of color, you’re in the wrong movement.”

Instagram | Twitter

2. Rowan Blanchard

Rowan Blanchard is a 16-year-old actor and activist who knows more about and has done more for intersectional feminism than most people could in a lifetime. Her social media accounts are consistently flooded with feminist messages that go far beyond gender justice. At only 13 years old, Blanchard wrote an essay on her Tumblr account defining white feminism and intersectional feminism, and why she advocates the latter. Because of her activism, Blanchard has been invited to speak at events like the 2017 Women's March LA and the 2015 UN Women U.S. National Committee. She continues to speak about her intersectional ideals every chance she gets.

Instagram | Twitter | Tumblr

3. Jessica Williams

Jessica Williams is an actor and comedian most widely known for her work as a senior correspondent for "The Daily Show." While Williams' career centers around political satire, she wastes no time drawing on her own experiences as a bisexual black woman in her activism. Her work has not come without backlash – at a luncheon celebrating women in film during the 2017 Sundance Film Festival, Jessica responded to Salma Hayek and Shirley MacLaine's accusations of black women self-victimizing in their activism with an explanation of intersectional feminism: “When I talk about feminism, sometimes I feel like being a black woman is cast aside. I always feel like I’m warring with my womanhood and wanting the world to be better, and with my blackness — which is the opposite of whiteness.” Currently, Williams works with Phoebe Robinson on the "2 Dope Queens" podcast and stand-up tour.

Instagram | Twitter

4. Malala Yousafzai

Malala Yousafzai is a paramount intersectional feminist. At 15 years old, Yousafzai was the victim of an attempted assassination by the Taliban because of her support for girls' education in Pakistan, her home country. Now, at 20 years old, Malala is the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, is the star of her own documentary, has published a New York Times bestselling autobiography, has opened a school for refugee girls in Syria, is enrolled at Oxford University, has addressed the United Nations and has chatted with the likes of President Barrack Obama and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

"So here I stand, one girl, among many. I speak not for myself, but so those without a voice can be heard. Those who have fought for their rights. Their right to live in peace. Their right to be treated with dignity. Their right to equality of opportunity. Their right to be educated."
-Malala Yousafzai, United Nations 2013

Instagram | Twitter | Malala Fund

5. Laverne Cox



Laverne Cox is an actor and activist best known for her role in "Orange Is The New Black." Her politics are incredibly personal, and her feminism is purely intersectional. Her work as an actor is her activism, and Cox uses her experiences as a black transgender woman to make that work as authentic as possible. Cox has noted that her character Sophia Burset on "Orange" is a "wonderful opportunity to talk about and highlight issues of trans women in prison." Cox is the first transgender person to be nominated for a Primetime Emmy award in acting and was named Glamour's 2014 Woman of the Year. This year at Glamour's Women of the Year Summit, Cox reminded us that it is "important that trans women are included in talks about women." Her activism doesn't end there, though. Cox regularly advocates for the enactment of public policies that will improve the lives of trans people, specifically trans women of color.

Instagram | Twitter

6. Yara Shahidi



Yara Shahidi is a 17-year-old actor and model best known for her role on "Black-ish." Shahidi surrounds herself with people who share her ideas, including Rowan Blanchard. Through her work Shahidi is able to act on her feminism, advocating and searching for roles that are representative of intersecting identities. "Black-ish," while it has its downfalls, frequently explores political and social issues, including police brutality and the Black Lives Matter movement. Shahidi credits these discussions as important to expressing the "duality of raising black children in our modern climate." Planning to attend Harvard in 2018, Shahidi works with Always' #LikeAGirl campaign in her time off.

"When we talk about diversity on screen we're not just talking about color; we're talking about gender identity, fluidity, and sexual identity. We want to talk about identity in a deeply multifaceted way because our definition of diversity has, and must, continue to expand."
-Yara Shahidi for i-D

Instagram | Twitter

7. Amandla Stenberg

At 17 years old, Amandla Stenberg was named one of Elle's 2015 Feminists of the Year alongside Rowan Blanchard and Laverne Cox. Now 19, Stenberg is easily one of the most outspoken celeb feminists, utilizing her social media to spread messages of love, intersectional feminism and her own journey of loving her blackness. As a black bisexual actor, singer and activist best known for her roles in "The Hunger Games" and "Everything, Everything," Stenberg wastes no time finding roles that allow her to access and portray intersecting identities. She's received BET's Young, Gifted + Black Award through Black Girls Rock, has spoken with Gloria Steinem on the importance of intersectionality in feminist theory and lends her work ethic to the Art Hoe Collective.

Instagram | Twitter

Cover Image Credit: pasa / Flickr

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Islam Is Not A Religion Of Peace, But Neither Is Christianity

Let's have in honest converation about the relgious doctrine of Islam

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Islam is not a religion of peace.

Christianity is also not a religion of peace.

But, most people in both religions are generally peaceful.

More specifically, bringing up the doctrine of Christianity is a terrible rebuttal to justify the doctrine of Islam.

That is like saying, "Fascism is not a good political ideology. Well, Communism isn't any good either. So, Fascism is not that bad after all."

One evil does not justify another evil. Christianity's sins do not justify Islam's.

The reason why this article is focused on Islam and not Christianity is the modern prevalence of religious violence in the Islamic world. Christianity is not without its evil but there is far less international terrorist attacks and mass killing perpetrated by Christians today than by those of Islam.

First, let's define "religious killings," which is much more specific than a practicer of a religion committing a murder.

A religious killings are directly correlated with the doctrines of the faith. That is different a human acting on some type of natural impulse killing someone.

For example, an Islamic father honor killing his daughter who was raped is a religious killing. But an Islamic man who catches his wife cheating and kills her on the spot is a murder, not a religious killing. The second man may be Islamic but the doctrine of Islam cannot be rationally held at fault for that killing. Many men with many different religions or experience would make the same heinous mistake of taking a life.

Second, criticizing a doctrine or a religion is not a criticism of everyone that practices the religion.

It is not even a criticism of everyone who make mistake while inspired by the religions. Human are willing to do heinous things when governed by a bad cause. Not every World War 2 Nazis was a homicidal maniac but human nature tells them to act this way in order to survive in their environment. It is hard to fault a person from traits that comes from evolutionary biology and natural selection.

However, commenting on a philosophy, ideology or a religion is not off limits. Every doctrine that inspires human action should be open for review. The religion may be part of a person's identity and it holds a special place in its heart but that does not mean it should be immune to criticism.

Finally, before going into a deconstruction of the myth that Islam is a religion of peace, there needs to be a note about the silencing of talking about Islam.

There is a notion in Western Society that if a person criticizes Islam, then that person hates all Muslims and the person suffers from Islamophobia. That is not the case, a person to criticize religion without becoming Donald Trump. In Western Society criticizing fundamental Christians is never seen as an attack on all Christians because there is a lot of bad ideas in the Bible that Christians act on. Therefore, criticizing Islam should have the same benefit of the doubt because the Quran has many bad ideas in it.

The Quran advocates for war on unbelievers a multitude of times. No these verses are not a misreading or bad interpretation the text. Here are two explicit verses from the Quran that directly tell Followers to engage in violence:

Quran 2: 191-193:

"And kill them wherever you find them, and turn them out from where they have turned you out. And Al-Fitnah (disbelief or unrest) is worse than killing... but if they desist, then lo! Allah is forgiving and merciful. And fight them until there is no more Fitnah (disbelief and worshipping of others along with Allah) and worship is for Allah alone. But if they cease, let there be no transgression except against Az-Zalimun (the polytheists and wrong-doers)"

Quran 2: 216:

"Fighting is prescribed for you, and ye dislike it. But it is possible that ye dislike a thing which is good for you, and that ye love a thing which is bad for you. But Allah knoweth, and ye know not."

There is no rational way to interrupt these passages in a peaceful way. The whole premise of both passages is to inspire followers that war against the unbeliever is justified.

The first verse advocates for genocide against non-believers for the mere transgression that a society worships a different god or worships another god along with Allah.

The second passage is arguable more dangerous because the first passage just advocate that fighting may be a necessity, while the second passage encourages it. The second passage claims that war on the unbeliever is a good thing under the eyes of Allah.

The reason why these passages are dangerous is because they directly incite religious violence. For most followers of Allah, these passages are ignored or they convince themselves the passages means something they do not. However, for a large numbers of followers that view the text of the Quran as the unedited words of Allah, these texts become extremely dangerous. These passages become all the rational they need to wage war on non-believers.

This is dangerous because there are millions of followers of Islam worldwide that believe every statement in the Quran is true.

Therefore, the Quran becomes a direct motivation and cause for its followers to attack non-followers. Rationally one can understand where the Islam follower comes from, if a person truly believes that Allah or God himself wrote these words then why would you not comply.

Especially when there is verses in the Quran that says the Follower who does not fight the infidel is not as worthy of a Follower that does wage war against the non-believer (Quran 4:95). Finally, when male Followers are told that their martyrdom fighting for the faith will be rewarded with an eternity in paradise with 72 virgins for personal pleasure. If a Follower truly believes all of this is the spoken word of Allah then there is more rational why a person would commit these atrocities then why they would not.

Men and women are radicalized by these passages on a daily basis.

No, it is not just the poor kid in Iraq that lost his family to an American bombing run that indiscriminately kills civilians but also the middle classed Saudi Arabian child or some Western white kid that finds the Quran appealing. If radicalization were just poor people, then society would not have much to be worried about. However, Heads of States, college educated people and wealthy Islamic Followers are all being radicalized and the common dominator is the doctrine of Islam.

Osama Bin Laden, one of the most infamous terrorist in history, was not a poor lad that was screwed by the United States military industrial complex. Bin Laden was the son of a billionaire, that received an education through college from great schools. There is no other just cause for Bin Laden to orchestrate such grievous attacks on humanity besides religious inspirations. A person can rationally tie Islam Followers gravitation towards terrorism to a specific verse. Quran 3: 51 tells readers,

"Soon shall we cast terror into the hearts of the Unbelievers."

Any rational person can tie Islamic passages like this directly to terrorism. It is not a complicated correlation to like Nazism and Jewish persecution to Christianity. The Holy Book of Islam directly encourages the Followers of Islam to inflict terrorism unto the non-believer.

So why do some many people deny these obvious truths about Islam and violence?

Political Correctness and the want to not be viewed as a bigot. The correlations here are as direct as the terrors of the Spanish Inquisitions and Catholicism and no one is afraid to retrospect and say, "Yes Christianity caused the direct murder of thousands of people". A person would not even be controversial if one stated that both World Wars has significant religious undertones. However if anyone states that terrorism and violence has a direct link with Islam then there is an outcry.

Even President Obama refused to use the terms Islam and Muslim when publicly talking about the War on Terrorism. I am a hypocrite also because I used the term Islamic Follower instead of Muslim in an attempt to sound more political correct.

That is a problem when society refuse to use terms that are correct in an attempt to not offend anyone. Imagine if scientist could not report their findings because the underlying politics. Society needs to be able to have open dialogue about this problem or else it will never heal. Society needs to throw away the worrisome about being politically correct and focus on identifying the problems and solving them.

The world of Islam needs to open themselves up to this criticism.

There can no longer be a closing of dialogue where the West cannot speak on the doctrines of Islam because they are not partakers (That applies to all organized religion too, especially the Catholic Church). People who draw Muhammed must no longer be threatened with attacks on their life.

When Islamic women and men speak up about the sins of Islam, they must stop being silenced. If humanity is going to take steps into the future with better technology and more dangerous weaponry, then we need to solve this problem with Islam and gradually to organized religion at all.

If not it will doom us way before we get there…

Thank you for reading and if you enjoyed this article follow my podcast on Twitter @MccrayMassMedia for more likewise discussions.

Cover Image Credit:

https://unsplash.com/photos/JFirQekVo3U

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Representation In Media Matters

I can finally see a character who looks like me and isn't stereotype.

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Growing up my parents made a conscious effort to buy dolls, books, and watch TV shows and movies with characters that looked like me. Both my parents were born in the heat of the civil rights movement, and let's just say the media was and still is controlled predominantly by white, straight, cis-gendered men. Hollywood (television & film) being one of the most successful exports for the United States. That being said, the media should feel obligated to represent the people that consume it, not just white, straight, cis-gendered men.

A prime example of how representation impacts community, was the release of "Black Panther." Personally, I saw the film THREE times and in two countries. I guess you could say I was a bit excited to see characters that 1) looked like me and 2) weren't the stereotypical rolls already portrayed in media. The film has broken several records: highest-grossing Superhero film in the U.S., first film since "Avatar" to spend five consecutive weeks at Top of Box Office, and top-grossing Opening Weekend for a film with a predominately Black cast. Clearly, there's a market for Black films. *side-eye @ Hollywood*

For the first time, Black characters were the heroes and kings and queens in a major blockbuster, not the villains or sidekicks. Also, the relationship between male and female characters weren't divisive and or used as an opportunity to belittle each other. Many of my family and friends raved about how they felt acknowledged by mainstream media. So many posts on social media praised the film and showed appreciation for its representation. More films and televisions need to be released to tell the stories of all minorities (racial, gender, sexual orientation, and religion) but their needs to be a change in the development and production departments to accurately depict these stories. There's a need for underrepresented populations to be in charge of their stories and the means of delivery.

This past June, I attended a conference hosted by the T. Howard Foundation, who focuses on diversity in media by providing college students with internships through partner companies such as but not limited to: Turner, Viacom, and NBCUniversal. During many of the panels, some questions included "how does it feel to be the only POC in the room? How do remain true to your own voice? Why are you interested in media?". The majority of answers to these questions all began with, "growing up I didn't see myself...". Authentic stories and portrayals come from the people who experience them.

No child should have to grow up feeling invalidated or that their experiences don't matter because they are represented in the media.

The reason I pursued a degree in Communications is that I want underrepresented populations to have media as an outlet to express themselves. We consume so much media every day and the landscape is rapidly changing. We have the opportunity to make sure the next generation isn't in the same position as we are now.

Cover Image Credit:

Photo by Steven Van on Unsplash

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