Multiplicity and Intersectionality
Below is part of the introduction to an article I recently wrote, entitled, “EMBRACING MULTIPLICITY–BEING A CATALYST FOR CHANGE.” In its entirety, the article makes connections between Obama, trickster deities like Eshu and Ananse, and the process of psychosynthesis. For those interested in the complete article, check out the link. For everyone else who want a good taste of the beautiful potential of being of multiracial heritage, here it is…..
People of multiracial descent are accustomed to existing at the intersections of multiple worlds and multiple identities, holding and juggling those spaces in tension. We become adept at navigating in and out and through numerous cultural contexts. The more one enters and exits these cultural contexts and the more one critically examines racial hierarchy and essentialism and their impact on the dynamics between racial groups, the more pronounced one’s experience of multiraciality becomes. An understanding of critical race theory coupled with the experience of existing within the interstices of life–surviving and thriving in a world dominated by binary thought and then being inspired to rise above the surface unfragmented–are vital for multiracial individuals who seek to live out the fullness of their humanity. It requires a creativity that is prompted by the mere existence of the intersection in the road, as well as the time taken to reflect upon the ramifications of that intersection.
As a Blackapina, a biracial woman of African-American and Filipino-American descent, I regularly reflect upon how truly I am embracing both sides of my heritage and how well I am serving the populations on both sides of my bloodline. Existing in this in-between space of cultures and critically examining this intersectionality informs and strengthens my ability to recognize the complexities and nuances that characterize life’s mosaic. We, as multiracial people, have the potential to navigate this world of complexity and nuance. And it becomes quite natural for us to relate to West African tricksters like Eshu and Ananse for this reason: they embody the multiplicity that many of us call home. Eshu creates unconventional solutions at the intersections of life. Ananse crosses the line and inspires transformation. They are unconventional and transformative because the state of being at the intersection forces them to deal with the multiple paths that come together; if those paths never meet, if the crossroads don’t exist, there is almost no reason, no opportunity for creative outcomes to arise.
So what does it mean to be at the crossroads? It means to stand at any intersection, any meeting of multiple paths, and ask the question: So what do I do now?
Binary thinking would suggest selecting one of two paths. Perhaps a more nuanced way of thinking that informs the experience of many multiracial people would suggest entertaining or exploring the possibility of taking multiple paths simultaneously. It means daring ourselves to believe that it is possible to walk multiple paths at the same time, embracing the transition, defying the conventional, the orthodox, the hegemonic and actively walking all of those paths–becoming a living, breathing tapestry. And as one walks the multiple paths, one clears passageways like Eshu. This means knocking down all obstacles that obstruct the flow of understanding, of compassion, of cooperation. This increases the ability for humanity to cocreate a world predicated on our capacity to remain in dialogue and allow our ideas to build upon each other as opposed to being combative. Consequently, any collaboration amongst human beings should reflect this spirit of interdependence, manifesting in a force that brings healing wherever there is brokenness.