Each year, the second to third week in October is used to commemorate National Hate Crime Awareness Week (NHCAW); a week of action that encourages local authorities, key partners and communities to work together to tackle local hate crime issues and raise awareness of this devastating form of targetedcrime. The theme for NHCAW 2020 is disability.
Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw, a Black feminist academic introduced the term intersectionality back in 1989. The term was added to a growing vocabulary helping to define and convey the struggles experienced by ‘women of color ’in the US.
It’s fitting therefore that perhaps the most memorable quote relating to intersectionality came from Audre Lorde, a Black American writer remembered for her zealous work on LGTBQ+ and race issues. “There is no thing as a single-issue struggle because we do not live single-issue lives.”
As the nature of the struggle slowly entered mainstream discussion, more facets of social identity were introduced including class, nationality, citizenship, religion and body type.
The term became widely used by feminists years later in the 2000’s and has since grown to include more social identities, and groups outside the struggle for gender equality that are fighting their own battles and wars.
Intersectionality helps us understand how aspects of an individual or group identity can interact, lending themselves to specific, accumulated forms of discrimination, disadvantage, and conversely, privilege. Intersectionality provides a language to help us further identify and articulate advantage and disadvantage, caused by a combination of factors with identity at their centre. It widens the discussion from the most common forms of identity linked to discrimination, by providing a range of other factors that demand consideration.
The Disabled community navigates a wide range of daily challenges in the form of inadequate living conditions, access to medical care, limited access to education and employment and differing forms of social exclusion. Older people, poor people and women, are more likely to be disabled than others. Disabled women and girls can experience discrimination because of their gender and their disability and are frequently exposed to violence and abuse.
A Black boy with special educational needs and disabilities is 25 times more likely to be excluded from school than a White peer with no SEND. And LGBT people in lower income households are more likely to experience depression than LGBT people in higher income households.
The Equality Act (2010)recognises nine protected characteristics or equality strands, providing a legal basis for challenging discrimination within public life. However, there is an endless combination of identity traits that can cause disadvantage. The same can, of course, be said for advantage, however privilege often goes unrecognised by its beneficiaries while the experience of discrimination lingers and scars its victims.
The modern world provides us with examples of how traditional views of identity are changing, or have changed, and how new identities have become established across the globe. One example, being the growing number identifying as gender- nonbinary, or groups that have been identified by others as Eastern European or as ’Legally Blind’.
Individual identity is who and what a person is and is shaped by a number of factors; it is how we define ourselves, not how othersdefine us, and is critical to our wellbeing. We define ourselves in terms of belonging to a culture, interests, relationships the way we choose to spend our time, our professions and the physical place where we have roots.
Evolution has led to us living in tribes, allowing us to protect one another, build and develop communities and has resulted in the development of group identity. Published in the 1950’s a book entitled ‘The Nature of Prejudice’ suggested that stereotyping, born out of lazy thinking and the need to categorise or group people (often erroneously) was the basis of discrimination.
When we’re made to feel that we don’t belong, issues with self-esteem emerge and we can become ill. In response, another theory that emerged among sociologists, asserts that practising self-awareness helps to preserve the self-esteem of the group that is being oppressed, and helps the group avoid any dehumanising external influences.
Self-awareness and self-esteem alone are insufficient to prevent hate crime or other forms of discrimination. In recognition of the impact of hate crime on individuals, groups and wider society, the Royal Borough of Greenwich commissions three independent services. These services can help by: supporting you with reporting incidents, or reporting incidents anonymously on your behalf; advocate for you to housing providers, police or other services; help you find the right support such as counselling, and, signpost you to other services when the impact of hate crime affects other areas of your wellbeing or daily life.
Additionally, the services raise awareness through training and workshops, and help improve responses to hate crime by identifying local needs and priorities.
If you know someone that needs support, advice or resources, please contact the services below: