INTERSECTIONALITY IN A SET OF GRAPHICS

1. David Kendig and Erika Cheng recently created this map of women’s mortality rates in the Unites States. The Blue areas are where the rates are improving, the aqua areas show minimal improvement, and the red areas show that the rates are worsening. The Washington Post goes into a frenzy of limp-brained speculation here-but they just can’t seem to say why these women are dying at an alarming rate.

2. Here is a map of the US African American population by percentage.

3. Here is a map of the US Latino population by percentage.

4. Here is a map of the US Native American population by percentage.

5. And here is a map of the people in the United States living in poverty by percentage.

If you superimpose maps 2-4, you more or less get the first map. The rest of the gaps are filled in by map 5.

Exceptions to the mortality rates are noticeable in California and New England, which might be explained by laws in place that allow access to services, relative affluence in the area, and/or this map:

So when I see Feministing and other websites posting the first map and hollering “WOMEN!!!!”, it always makes me wonder, which women are we talking about again?

For me, this isn’t some kind of “playing with ideas”, this is something incredibly tangible that affects not only me but my family. I moved to New England almost three years ago from Florida because I found that as a disabled woman of mixed race living in poverty, Florida would be quite happy to see me die in the street. I managed to narrowly dodge homelessness BY moving, after a year of going back to college not in small part because student loans became my only method of escaping what appeared to be a lifetime of menial labor. There ARE no state-allocated funds for college in Florida.

My mother and sisters still live in Florida, where my mother has been making efforts to start a union for registered nurses. My younger sister is working three jobs, and they still require state assistance to feed her son, and provide his medical care. They can barely make their bills each month. The only way they survive is by all living together and pooling funds, to which i sometimes add some monetary assistance as/when I can.

My mother was also a janitor who decided to put her last 60 dollars towards registering for community college classes, and I’m proud to follow in her footsteps; I’m glad that I at least didn’t have two children to care for while trying to complete my degree.

when I found myself at age 28, the same age as she was when she decided to go back to school, looking at a future that held thankless, backbreaking labor for a pittance of what it was worth, I also borrowed against my future in order to try and escape the trap America has built for us.

The disconnect between the people who make these maps and the people who are affected by them is something I have been trying to bridge for the last several years with my blood and bone. It hasn’t been easy, surrounded by people who take the power they have for granted, whose selective sociopathy and casual othering of everything I am has become possibly the greatest challenge I have faced.

I still believe that if I fight hard enough, I have to power to become one of the mapmakers. And that I might some day be able to change these maps.