Activist? Or Researcher?

In class this past week, we had a bit of a conversation about the differences in activists and researchers. Our professor, the wonderful Dr. Shah, stated that as researchers, we have to remember that we are researchers first, and our activism comes secondary. I took, and perhaps, take issue with this. Can we not be both? Does one have to come first? I reflect upon a webinar that I took part in several years back about the intersection of sexuality and race within the black community. This was about 5 years ago, before I began to have any considerations of intersectionality. What I remember MOST from this webinar is the idea of was a person identifying as a gay black man or a black gay man.

This took me back for a minute. Upon first hearing, I wasn’t certain the differences in the words, and then I realized it was a reflection upon which the person identified primarily with. In a more contemporary understanding, I cannot see that this is how some folks are FORCED to play out their identities, and a narrow understanding of intersectionality dictates that we must privilege certain identities over others, and this may be relational dictated. That being said, this might change in different situations. My grand hope though, is that we can begin to have a more nuanced relationship with intersectionality and intersections of identity to understand that these do not have to be created apart and that we can accept a matrix approach to idneeites.

That brings me back to the initial conversation about the identities of reseacher-activists. Why must they be privileged one over another. Besides the way that language is strutted and we have to state one over another,, my belief is that a researcher invested in social change, must be both, simultaneously .I am not sure that these commitments can be cleared apart from one another.

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