Summary: In Part I we explored the concept of a collective action frame in the context of the vote on North Carolina's Amendment One, which defines marriage as between one man and one woman. Reverend Dr. William J. Barber argues in this clip that the amendment passed because the wrong frame dominated the public understanding of the issue. In Part II we want to further interrogate Barber's own frame, which posits that the amendment writes discrimination into the state constitution. We think Barber’s argument draws on key insights from intersectionality theory in sociology. In short, this theory draws attention to the relationships among multiple dimensions of social inequality (e.g., race, sexuality, gender, etc.) and insists that the formation of any subject happens at the intersections of these dimensions. Similarly, systems of domination, such as racism and heterosexism, work through this invisible, intersectional scaffolding. Echoing an insight from Kimberlé Crenshaw's path breaking article on the theory, the failure of antiracism to interrogate heterosexism means that antiracist activists are doomed to reproduce the subordination of racial minorities in the LGBTQ community. Indeed, this is what might very well have happened in North Carolina. In the lead up to the vote on Amendment One, it is now clear that there was a coordinated strategy from a political group calling itself the National Organization for Marriage. The group aimed to drive a wedge between members of LGBTQ and Black communities (here and here). Recently unsealed memos from the group state clearly that “The strategic goal of the project is to drive a wedge between gays and blacks” and another memo noted the group's aspirations to make the exclusion of gay people from marriage “a key badge of Latino identity.” Barber's frame, then, grasps the way racial and sexual identities were strategically pitted against each other in the vote on Amendment One, but his frame also grasps that violations of equal protection under the law for members of the LGBTQ community in this instance, leaves the door open for violations against racial minorities in the next. As illustrated in this moving speech, intersectionality theory, not only describes how political power relies on manipulating social constructed racial and sexual identities, but also how political resistance must take these constructs into account when formulating effective collective action frames.
Submitted By: Lester Andrist