LOVE Pilot Holds Act-Up on Intersectionality

By Caitlin Burns | April 13, 2021

By Josephine Mueller ’21

The LOVE Pilot program held its second Act-up, “Doing Antiracism Work: When IsIntersectionality a Bridge & When Is It a Roadblock?” on March 24. 

Attendees heard from four panelists: Dr. Graciela Slesaransky-Poe, professor of Education; Troy Young, assistant director for Engagement and New Student Programs; Daniel Traub, photographer and co-director of “The Barefoot Artist” documentary; and Global Media major Barbara St. Fleur ’22, Center for Teaching, Learning, and Mentoring student fellow and member of the LOVE Planning Team. The four discussed how their identities affect their lives and how intersectionality relates to their work, and advocating for others, making sure to be inclusive, and educating themselves.

For much of her life, St. Fleur has wrestled with her identities of being Haitian and an American. She has had to advocate for herself and her identity as she has been challenged for not being enough and labeled by others. 

“It has been a constant battle for me and I have to constantly structure myself and stand my ground,” she said.

Some panelists spoke of how they use and express their identities, and when they have to hide or push back parts of their identities.

“I use four specific descriptors, and the order is important to me: Black, gay, male, and Christian,” said Young. “I think the order is very important for when I enter a room, that is how I think of myself, to see which identity I need to bring to the forefront. If it’s at work, it’s about being a voice for someone. Do I need to put my Blackness to the front? Do I need to put my gayness to the front? In personal terms, it’s for safety reasons. Being a Black, gay male is very hard in my community at times. So, depending on the environment I am in, I put my gayness to the back.” 

Traub echoed these sentiments, identifying as biracial, being half Jewish and half Chinese. “When I was growing up in the 70s and 80s, it was more of an issue for me. Depending on what context I was in, what school, it was more advantageous to be Asian or white.” 

The LOVE Pilot program is a space for Arcadia students, staff, and faculty to explore issues of identity, racism, and systemic discrimination, and to examine their own role within society as change agents. 

The final Act-up: Changemakers Summit was April 27 from 7 to 8:30 p.m. The five Working Groups that formed in February to explore racial inequities and propose possible actions to address health disparities, racial misrepresentations in sports, inequitable access to career opportunities, untold histories of Grey Towers Castle, and criminal injustice will discuss roadblocks and bridges they encountered in doing their work. The campus community will be invited to join in the next phases of this work.