Despite good intentions, the teaching of intersectionality in an increasingly polarized society is leading to angry anti-white, anti-male sentiments, warns Jonathan Haidt, a Jewish, atheist professor of social psychology at New York University whose scholarship is celebrated by many conservative Christians.
"The idea is bright and useful and if you watch your TED Talk it's good. It's nothing I object to. It's helpful... but here's the problem — when we teach intersectionality on American college campuses today, in a very polarized climate ... you're teaching people to see more differences. To divide people into the oppressor group and the oppressed group," Haidt said Thursday at the inaugural Anita and Antonio Gotto Lecture Series at Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church.
The term "Intersectionality" was popularized by civil rights activist and legal scholar Kimberlé Crenshaw in 1989. Crenshaw wrote in a paper for the University of Chicago Legal Forum that traditional feminist ideas and antiracist policies exclude black women because they face overlapping discrimination unique to them.
"Because the intersectional experience is greater than the sum of racism and sexism, any analysis that does not take intersectionality into account cannot sufficiently address the particular manner in which Black women are subordinated," Crenshaw wrote in the paper.
Haidt, who recently co-authored The Coddling of the American Mind: How Good Intentions and Bad Ideas Are Setting Up a Generation for Failure with First Amendment expert Greg Lukianoff, highlighted the concept as part of a larger presentation that looked at how parents and educators were failing to prepare the next generation to be as strong and resilient as they need to be. He also discussed how a better understanding of human moral psychology can bring people together across political and religious divides and how the use of ancient wisdom can help put the nation back on the right path.