Author Archives: Ray Lewis

You have to understand intersectionality to break the vicious circle of disadvantage

This is the first in a series of articles commissioned by the Diversity Sub Committee of the FPDC (Federal People Development Committee) and a group of Party campaigns and SAOs on intersectionality – examining how different layers of diversity, discrimination or disadvantage combine. Ray Lewis is our first contributor. He joined the Party earlier this year and runs the Eastside Academy in London.

Disadvantage ruins lives. I live and work in East London, running a Leadership academy for young people from local disadvantaged communities. I have seen for myself the difference that can be made when we can break the vicious circle that condemns so many of our young people.

But there are differences in the disadvantage that people face. When I first set up the Eastside Academy, the primary concern among politicians and educators was for young black boys from poor areas. There was a feeling that they were being left behind and being born into a future of exclusion. 

Then society’s focus shifted onto the wider BAME agenda, which included an acknowledgement of the hardships that so many young girls are faced with. From specific issues like FGM and breast ironing through to the daily challenges of just being female – lower wages, lower prospects and harassment.

Now society is recognising the many layers of intersectionality. In particular we are starting to have the challenging conversations around the meeting point of religious belief and the importance of acceptance of people who identify as LGBT+. Some BAME communities struggle to reconcile their devout faith with acceptance of their LGBT+ friends and relatives. These individuals have the struggles that all BAME people face, of racism and discrimination. And then they also have the struggle for acceptance of their sexuality or gender identity. This is intersectionality.

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