3. Intersectionality & Black Feminist Thought

“We are actively committed to struggling against racial, sexual, heterosexual, and class oppression, and see as our particular task the development of an integrated analysis and practice based upon the fact that the major systems of oppression are interlocking.  The synthesis of these oppressions creates the conditions of our lives.  As Black women we see Black feminism as the logical political movement to combat the manifold and simultaneous oppressions that all women of colour face” 

Combahee River Collective Statement, 1977


This quotation from the Combahee River Collective, a group of Black queer feminists from Boston, Massachusetts, asserts the need for a unique Black feminist theory and social movement which address the ways Black women experience oppression based on sexism and racism. The Combahee River Collective adopt an intersectional lens in their analysis of Black queer women’s experiences of patriarchy, racism, and homophobia. As you will learn in this module, intersectionality is a Black feminist theory and analytic tool that captures the ways multiple systems of oppression interact. In the context of a resurgence of Black Lives Matter (BLM) and #MeToo — movements started by Black women — it is important to consider the long and complex roots of Black feminist thought.

As such, this module introduces you to Black feminist thought and the concept of intersectionality.  You will learn about key Black feminist theorists and activists, including Kimberle Crenshaw, the Combahee River Collective, Sojourner Truth, and Patricia Hill Collins.  To situate our discussion of Black feminism in the Canadian context, we will study histories of anti-Black racism in Canada and study examples of Black feminist resistance in Canada.

Learning Objectives

By the end of this module, you should be able to:

  • Define intersectionality and locate the concept within Black feminist thought
  • Define ‘race’, racism, and racialization 
  • Identify examples of anti-Black racism in the Canadian context 
  • Identify important Black feminist theorists and activists 
  • Identify Black women trailblazers and social justice leaders in Alberta
  • Use an intersectional lens to discuss the Black Lives Matter and #MeToo movements

Moving Forward

Review the lessons and assigned resources carefully, take notes and putting the ideas into your own words. Review the online learning resources for tips about active reading and how and why to take notes.