The Vortex, A Nexus, or Intersectionality Across Borders

rainbow flag

Obama once again showed his loyalty to civil rights — and by civil rights, in this case I mean LGBTers’ rights — at the G20.  Obama’s devotion to gay and lesbian as well as full transgender rights does not capture the complexity of their civil rights fully, and how this spectrum could be found in disability rights. (See my Bodies in Revolt.)

Civil rights about sexuality are more complex than the old civil rights protecting women and persons of color.  As with disability, the fact that there is a fluidity, a flow, and the constant possibility of change makes protecting the rights of persons with disabilities, persons with non-traditional sexualities, or persons from different ethnicities like golden babies.

What is a golden baby?  How does Obama embody it?  As I wrote in Out of Many, One: Obama and the Third American Political Tradition, Obama himself embodies what the youth residing in the former Confederate South call a “golden baby.“ With his mixed race (read white/black), mixed ethnic (read Midwestern American, African, Indonesian), mixed continents (same as ethnic, only refocused through a macro-spatial lens), mixed sectional (read urban and suburban with a micro-spatial lens), and mixed class background intersected with his spatial background (read urban/suburban in conjunction with the correlation between race, class, and education), the president has witnessed a transformation.

Obama’s multiracial heritage went from being considered all negative (miscegenation being effectively legalized in Loving v. Virginia when he was five years old) to being considered golden. Privileged and untouched by poverty, a golden child is a rarity and supposedly better than a white or black child. The baby glows. She shines. The embodiment of luminescence and change, a golden baby is a rarity.

Similarly, new civil rights shines in that it reflects not just intersectionality but also a vortex.  New civil rights differs from those that protected persons in immutable categories like race, particularly African-Americans, given the one-drop rule.

To be sure, old civil rights does involve intersectionality, as Patricia Hill Collins and Kimberlé Crenshaw show so valiantly.  But the new also has legs — there is the possibility today more than ever for movement.  So I label this the vortex and will blog more about this.

For now, let’s just hope the sweet spot of the unofficial rivalry between Obama and Hillary in terms of the Democratic public spotlight will transform itself into a vortex.  Let’s hope her 2016 run (unannounced, I know) from June 2013 to November 2016 will turn into a long, productive journey for the Democrats.

Let’s hope Hillary Fatigue won’t set in.  Let’s make hay of the GOP’s bowling (knocking down 2 or 3 candidates at once).  And let’s ensure that mud doesn’t run downhill but is turned back into wonderfully refreshing mud pies the Republicans might enjoy.

Intersectionality is it.  Let’s just hope the nexus has legs.  But Bill de Blasio’s surprise victory (or soon to be victory) as the next mayor gives me hope.

Published by *Ruth Frick O'Brien

Professor Ruth Frick O'Brien, City University of New York, Graduate Center, 1st "professorette" nicknamed by Rush Limbaugh nickname. Ruth Frick* O'Brien & Frederic Halper* O'Brien, Dep.M.E. @ National Review *(honoring our mothers)

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