The Common Good

Seeing Our Place in the Matrix

I won't forget the day the 15-year-old Korean exchange student I tutored informed me she needed surgery to "correct" her eyes. I stopped my grammar lesson and had her teach me about racism.

"Don't you know?" she said to me, surprised at my ignorance. "Lots of friends back in Seoul have had surgery to make their eyes look round - like Britney Spears. There's so much pressure to look a certain way to be pretty."

In my list of learning moments as a teacher, this one remains one of the most important, for I was learning about what feminist and critical race theorists call intersectionality. "Intersectionality" is a term developed by Kimberle Crenshaw (I touch on it in the article "Liberating History" in the June Sojourners). Briefly put, it means that all social justice issues have many axis points

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