- Being Held Accountable:On the Necessity of Intersectionality
When I wrote the first entry on May 4, 2007 for my blog Mixed Race America, I began by asking the rhetorical question "Why blog about race?" and closed with the following musings: "Perhaps I want to talk about race in popular culture and general American culture (like the upcoming presidential race). Or perhaps I want to blog in public because I'm embarking on a 15 month project of finishing my book manuscript on passing. At any rate, whether it's a conversation with random or known people in cyberspace or simply a way for me to get my thoughts on paper in a public way, I'm going to use this space to jot down my miscellaneous musings about race. And I invite you to join in the conversation."1 Over two years later, I no longer ask why I blog about race; instead, I wonder why more academics don't pursue blogging as a form of intellectual inquiry and epistemology. Maintaining a blog has enriched my scholarship, kept me in touch with new media that has enhanced my understanding of my students' youth culture, and most importantly, it has held me accountable in numerous ways. And although my blog is called Mixed Race America, my interests in race are not simply limited to the borders of the U.S. nor are they separate from my identity as a feminist. In other words, my blog like my scholarship always had an interest in the intersections of critical race theory and feminist theory, and I envisioned my blog as a place where those two discourses would naturally come together.
Accountability is the topic I wish to write about for this essay because I began my blog as a means of holding myself accountable to a writing schedule for my current manuscript on passing and racial ambiguity. My initial blog entries were a form of pre-writing for my book chapters. Yet the sense of accountability that the blog inspired quickly grew beyond one of writing accountability to one of community accountability. While I initially wrote only for myself, as I started to gather a group of readers beyond the friends and family in my address book, I began to see my blog writing as not merely free writing for my book but fundamental writing for issues about which I care deeply. And I began to see that my academic writing and my blog writing enrich and enhance one another; they both speak to the feminist ideals I believe in speaking truth to power and equality for all people. Both types of writing keep me accountable to the advancement of knowledge by and about women, and to a commitment to ending oppression in whatever form it appears. [End Page 190]
As a feminist scholar committed to social justice activism, I want my blog to reflect the kind of intersectionality that I bring to my research, writing, and teaching—to demonstrate that issues of race must be understood alongside and intersecting with issues of gender and sexuality, not to mention class, region, religion, education, political orientation, and a host of other factors. While the demands of being a tenure track faculty member (particularly an untenured one) too often preclude me from writing about topical issues of intersectionality, I have found that my blog provides a discrete space where theory meets praxis and current events can be used to illustrate the intellectual questions I find most immediately provocative.2 For example, I have charted the same-sex marriage movement in California, writing posts that compared the struggle to overturn anti-miscegenation laws with the current struggle to allow gay and lesbian partners to marry. I celebrated in May 2008 when California's supreme court overruled a previous ban prohibiting gay marriage.3 I mourned in November 2008 when California voters passed Proposition 8 by a 4% margin.4 And a talk that Catherine McKinnon5 gave at my university inspired me to write a post in February 2009 urging readers to support the Courage Campaign's6 fight not to nullify the 18,000 same-sex marriages sanctioned by the state...