Ask SGO: How do our different identities shape our world?

Home Resources Ask SGO: How do our different identities shape our world?

Ever wondered how our social identities shape our experiences? In our latest AskSGO, we break down what social identities are and explore how they intersect to impact our lives and how we are viewed in the world. Join us on November 16 where we’ll expand on understanding the complex web of identity and intersectionality.

YouTube player



00:00:05.349 –> 00:00:13.595
Rachel Sadler: So, we talk about social identities in our them in particular when talking about intersectionality.

00:00:13.595 –> 00:00:16.613
Rachel Sadler: But, we often get questions about, well, what does this even mean?

00:00:16.613 –> 00:00:20.523
Rachel Sadler: What are social identities? And how do they relate to intersectionality?

00:00:20.523 –> 00:00:26.267
Rachel Sadler: Well, social identity and intersectionality are two concepts that are pretty inextricably linked.

00:00:26.267 –> 00:00:31.709
Rachel Sadler: You can’t truly understand intersectionality without first recognizing what social identities are.

00:00:31.709 –> 00:00:37.981
Rachel Sadler: So, essentially, social identity is how you see yourself and others based on the groups that you belong to.

00:00:37.981 –> 00:00:44.925
Rachel Sadler: We’re talking gender, race, religion, nationality, ability, class, and so many more.

00:00:44.925 –> 00:00:48.871
Rachel Sadler: What’s important to keep in mind, though, is that these groups have been socially constructed.

00:00:48.871 –> 00:00:52.769
Rachel Sadler: That means they’ve been developed and defined by societies over time.

00:00:52.769 –> 00:01:01.323
Rachel Sadler: So, some of them we’re born into, like, our ethnicity, our nationality, or class, and some of them were assigned like gender and race.

00:01:01.323 –> 00:01:07.701
Rachel Sadler: Some of our social identities will remain the same over the course of our lives, but often many of them change.

00:01:07.701 –> 00:01:19.807
Rachel Sadler: For example, we can move between social economic classes, we can have changes in our ability status, or we can adopt different religious beliefs or identify as a gender different from the sex that we are assigned at birth.

00:01:19.807 –> 00:01:26.349
Rachel Sadler: And while it may seem like all of our social identities are obvious, many of them aren’t necessarily visible to others.

00:01:26.349 –> 00:01:30.147
Rachel Sadler: For example, you can’t necessarily see someone’s social economic status.

00:01:30.147 –> 00:01:41.745
Rachel Sadler: Even though we have certain ideas about what it means to look like you belong to one class or another, we can only really make a guess or inference about what class or socioeconomic status someone belongs to.

00:01:41.745 –> 00:01:53.003
Rachel Sadler: When we consider things like ability, some folks have visible disabilities, while others may have invisible disabilities like autoimmune conditions, pain disorders, different types of cancer, and so forth.

00:01:53.003 –> 00:01:58.883
Rachel Sadler: So, because we have multiple social identities, we all have a different lived experience.

00:01:58.883 –> 00:02:06.889
Rachel Sadler: Two folks may look like they have similar identities, may actually have vastly different lived experiences because of the identities that we can’t see.

00:02:06.889 –> 00:02:14.899
Rachel Sadler: So, we are not just the sum of our experiences as one identity, but rather the combination of all of our identities simultaneously.

00:02:14.899 –> 00:02:18.603
Rachel Sadler: We exist at the intersections of those identities.

00:02:18.603 –> 00:02:25.815
Rachel Sadler: So, if I’m using myself as an example, I am a biracial black American woman, but sometimes people I’m assume I’m other races.

00:02:25.815 –> 00:02:30.449
Rachel Sadler: I am currently middle class, but I have moved through classes a few times in my life.

00:02:30.449 –> 00:02:36.519
Rachel Sadler: I am cisgender and straight, but I tend to have stereotypically masculine hobbies and personality traits.

00:02:36.519 –> 00:02:44.645
Rachel Sadler: I am not visibly disabled. Yet, I have underlying invisible disabilities that other folks can’t see that impact the way I navigate the world.

00:02:44.645 –> 00:02:48.677
Rachel Sadler: So, I’m not just one of these identities. I’m all of them, all at once.

00:02:48.677 –> 00:02:54.199
Rachel Sadler: And my lived experience is therefore influenced by all of them, all of the time.

00:02:54.199 –> 00:03:07.379
Rachel Sadler: Dr. Kimberly Crenshaw coined the term intersectionality in the late 1980s as a way to explain the interconnected nature of social identities and how they contribute to each person’s individual experiences with discrimination and oppression.

00:03:07.379 –> 00:03:14.695
Rachel Sadler: A White woman, for example, will not experience racism, but she may experience sexism or ableism depending on her disability status.

00:03:14.695 –> 00:03:24.849
Rachel Sadler: A Black woman, conversely, experiences both racism and sexism, which can be layered by other forms of discrimination based on other identities that she may hold.

00:03:24.849 –> 00:03:30.091
Rachel Sadler: Her experience of racism will be different from someone who may be, say, Muslim or Asian.

00:03:30.091 –> 00:03:43.327
Rachel Sadler: So, her experience of sexism, or specifically what we call misogynoir, will also be different from the experience of sexism of a White woman or a Latinx woman because of the intersections of their race and gender.

00:03:43.327 –> 00:03:49.223
Rachel Sadler: So, social identity and intersectionality are two concepts that are best understood together.

00:03:49.223 –> 00:03:55.475
Rachel Sadler: Intersectionality helps us realize that our experiences and challenges aren’t just based on one identity.

00:03:55.475 –> 00:04:00.443
Rachel Sadler: They’re the result of a complex web of the multiple identities that we carry.

00:04:00.443 –> 00:04:08.097
Rachel Sadler: This understanding is super important because this helps us see the unique struggles and privileges people have based on the multiple identities that we hold.

00:04:08.097 –> 00:04:13.281
Rachel Sadler: So, there are many different identities people hold, and we often narrow them down to what we call the Big Eight.

00:04:13.281 –> 00:04:21.851
Rachel Sadler: So we’re looking at ability, age, ethnicity, gender identity, race, religion, sexual orientation, and socioeconomic status.

00:04:21.851 –> 00:04:31.919
Rachel Sadler: So, let’s define them very quickly. Ability refers to the diversity in our physical, mental, cognitive, developmental, and or emotional abilities.

00:04:31.919 –> 00:04:36.643
Rachel Sadler: This again, can include visible disabilities, as well as invisible disabilities.

00:04:37.303 –> 00:04:42.701
Rachel Sadler: Age your age is one of your identities that will change throughout the course of your life, whether we like it or not.

00:04:42.701 –> 00:04:49.193
Rachel Sadler: And in each stage of your life, you’ll undoubtedly experience a range of discrimination and or privileges based on your age.

00:04:49.803 –> 00:04:57.719
Rachel Sadler: Ethnicity refers to a person’s cultural background, which includes language, ancestry, or cultural beliefs.

00:04:57.719 –> 00:05:05.043
Rachel Sadler: Note that ethnicity is different from race. Someone’s ethnicity can be Zambian, but their race is Black.

00:05:05.043 –> 00:05:12.193
Rachel Sadler: So race refers to the category society places folks in based on physical characteristics, mainly skin color.

00:05:12.963 –> 00:05:17.873
Rachel Sadler: Religion looks at a system of faith or worship or belief in a higher power.

00:05:18.583 –> 00:05:23.567
Rachel Sadler: Then, your social economic status is typically based on your income or wealth status.

00:05:23.567 –> 00:05:32.363
Rachel Sadler: It’s often used interchangeably with social class, but social class also includes other factors like education, income, occupation, and so forth.

00:05:32.363 –> 00:05:37.571
Rachel Sadler: Sexual orientation is your emotional, sexual, and or romantic attractions.

00:05:37.571 –> 00:05:43.583
Rachel Sadler: So, whether you identify as gay, straight, bi, pansexual, or any other orientation.

00:05:43.583 –> 00:05:50.599
Rachel Sadler: And then, gender refers to a person’s identification as a man, woman, transgender, or nonbinary.

00:05:50.599 –> 00:05:56.003
Rachel Sadler: This can differ from the sex you were assigned at birth, whether that’s male or female.

00:05:56.003 –> 00:06:15.785
Rachel Sadler: Gender includes cisgender folks, folks whose gender identity matches the sex assigned at birth, transgender – folks who identify differently than their assigned birth sex, genderqueer or nonbinary – someone who may see themselves as either both or neither male or female, or may not identify with the gender binary at all.

00:06:15.785 –> 00:06:17.641
Rachel Sadler: And there are many more.

00:06:17.641 –> 00:06:28.536
Rachel Sadler: So, if you want to learn more about intersectionality and how we consider intersecting identities in the workplace, join me on Thursday, November 16, from noon to one, where I’ll expand on these concepts in depth.