Stratifications of blackness: Meditations on the intersect of gender, race and age

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1 Citation (Scopus)


This paper seeks to address the current silences enmeshed in an articulation of blackness in higher education institutions. Using intersectionality as a theoretical framework I unpack the larger hegemonic structures that produce pockets of freedom and access for a select few that I, in many instances, am denied because of my age, gender and race. I am grappling with an experience in which the very idea of my capabilities as an academic are challenged by a triple reflection that I constantly have to negotiate. It is increasingly becoming clear that it is not possible to ignore a presentation of identity that is absent of my ontological positionality as a young black female academic. Each identity that colours my field is fully loaded with its overlapping meanings that wrestle for front stage in an arena that presupposes my subordination even before I enter the space. My field of reason is measured by the sets of performative identities that I have inherited from centuries of interlocked suppressive systems that have been imposed on me, and that have figured and continue to figure me as a secondary and subordinate image. These inheritances largely still remain as powerful representations of an architecture of oppression. This perspective is a meditation on how as a young black female academic I must redesign the misshapen hedge that sets borders to my imagined horizons of being. In academic writing the intersection of race and gender has been widely covered; however, the category of age has received less attention–so this paper sets to task the inclusion of age as a critical area where discrimination happens. Certainly for southern African writers the intersect of age, race and gender remains subjectively unaccounted for and the reflections presented here seek to make meaning of deceptive perceptions that arrive couched as well-meaning liberal hand-outs. I question my own subjective figuration of what it means to be young, to be black and to be a woman in an overwhelmingly ageing white male-oriented field.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)71-77
Number of pages7
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • blackness
  • critical race theory
  • gender
  • intersectionality
  • racism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gender Studies


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