Two Southern California activists analyzed intersectionality and various types of discrimination at Cal State Fullerton’s Langsdorf Hall Wednesday.
Donna Nicol, Ph.D., associate professor in the women and gender studies program in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, hosted the event.
“In a nutshell, intersectionality is those multiple identities that you embody and how those things, not only give you meaning or define who you are, but also intersect in what is called the multiplier effect of oppression,” Nicol said.
The local activist “teach-in” featured Cristina Flores of Copwatch Santa Ana and Black Lives Matter organizer Melina Abdullah, Ph.D.
Flores said that people see intersectionality gradually as they grow up.
“Growing up, I always kind of saw it. You start seeing it, and in academia you figure out that there is this word that everyone keeps throwing around: intersectionality,” Flores said. “My parents are undocumented, we really are working-class poor families, so you always see how all those identities get augmented and the power that they have in regards to how the systems of power are structured here in the United States.”
The Copwatch Santa Ana group is a collective of individuals who monitor and document police activity with the purpose of exposing police abuse or brutality in the city, Nicol said.
Flores said the group believes in “direct action,” like creating workshops that educate and support the community about their rights with police, with every individual participating in “police accountability.”
Abdullah, a professor and chair of Pan-African Studies at Cal State Los Angeles (CSULA), discussed the Black Lives Matter movement, which was sparked in Los Angeles.
“I think it is really important as we think about Black Lives Matter as a global movement, we understand that it also has local roots. Black Lives Matters was born in Los Angeles three and a half years ago. It was just regular folks who decided when George Zimmerman was acquitted in the killing of Trayvon Martin, that we had to do things differently than we have been doing,” Abdullah said.
Both groups do not label themselves as nonprofits. Abdullah said they take no funds from any charities or individuals and any funds they receive come from the group members themselves and the community.
Both presenters spoke about the relationship between the police and community and call themselves and their groups “police abolitionists” because of the history of the police in this country.
“The police that we now have were the slave catchers. So that is where it comes from. You literally have a target on your back. That is what policing was founded on and that is what it evolved out of. So the former slave catchers or paddy rollers, they were called slave patrols,” Abdullah said.
Abdullah then asked the crowd what slave patrols are called now and they responded by saying, “patrolmen.” She emphasized that this was important to know because the roots of the police go deep and that is why the group believes in abolishing the police.
Flores said the solution is community solutions to problems.
“You talk to each other, you care for each other. If someone is having a mental health breakdown, you attend to them, you provide healthcare.You stop criminalizing people for their gender or for not having a gender or whatever they choose. Just stop criminalizing people overall. That is how we stop,” Flores said. “It is really just caring for each other, talking to your neighbors. That is step No. 1. Stop being scared of each other. We are so scared of each other. That it is killing us.”