'I Am Enough': Panel discusses intersectionality and living as women of color

Category:  News
Wednesday, March 27th, 2019 at 7:50 PM
'I Am Enough': Panel discusses intersectionality and living as women of color by Anisa Venner-Johnston

On Monday, March 25, Edinboro University students, faculty, staff and community members gathered in the Scot Cinema for a panel discussion on the role of intersectionality among women of color.

The panelists — Pertrina Marrero, director of diversity and inclusion on campus,  Denise Manjarrez, manager of campus life and student services at Porreco College, and Marissa Rodriguez, assistant director of admissions and diversity recruiter — discussed their personal lives and what it took for them to understand who they are and the role they play as women of color.

Marrero started the panel discussion off with her definition of intersectionality, along with her own personal intersectionalities and how people can share these.

“For those of you who don’t understand what intersectionality is, it is all the places that you are a part of culturally that intersect,” Marrero said.

“When I define multicultural, I define it as the coexistence of things that you and I can have that are shared or individualized. For instance: I am a mother, I am a sister, I am a daughter, I am a friend, I am a cousin and so forth. Some of you can relate to those things.”  

Marrero, Manjarrez and Rodriguez all expressed frustration and the stereotypes in their intersectionalities. Marrero found herself being stereotyped as a black woman, someone who “is loud, dramatic, angry,” who also wears stilettos, fake nails and big earrings. Rodriguez found that as a Latina she was often expected to know Spanish, but actually grew up in a non-Spanish speaking household.

Despite these personal setbacks and the frustrations that came with them, these women found groups and people that welcomed them and accepted them for all the different parts of their selves.

A Compton native, Manjarrez found herself a part of a women’s empowerment group called Collectiva Chicana.

“It was a group of women that shared similar experiences,” Manjarrez said. “We talked about issues around being women from different communities and how we didn’t fit into every space.”

A Cleveland native, Rodriguez found herself going to several different places before she found someone who understood her and wanted to work with her on the discomforts she felt in the different sections of her life.

“The first time you go to someone might not be it. For some of you, it might be great, but it is not going to be the same for everyone,” Rodriguez said.

Before the end of the panel discussion, they encouraged and reminded attendees that we all change and we all grow differently. However, we should remain curious and open to understanding the spaces we occupy and the spaces other do, too.

“People come from all different walks of life,” Rodriguez said. “How we choose to engage with one another, how we choose to question [our differences] and how we choose to have conversations about [our differences] is important.”

Anisa Venner-Johnston | edinboro.spectator@gmail.com

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