How can a straight white male truly understand the complexities of why a queer black woman might feel silenced? Sure, maybe he knows that homophobia is still a thing, or that race relations have been in a state of elevated turmoil in the past few years due to high-profile news stories about institutional racism. But what about when individuals identify with more than one of these subjugated groups in society?
Upright Citizens Brigade comedian and YouTube enthusiast Akilah Hughes has taken a novel approach to making this problematic inequality into an accessible framework of logic through the lens of interest best known to the America people: pizza and cheeseburgers.
See, a lot of Americans love burgers, and we know damn well that a lot of Americans love pizza. And that's why they're the perfect edible archetypes for representing large swaths of the American population in analogy form.
In the video, titled "On Intersectionality in Feminism and Pizza," Hughes asks viewers to think of men as burgers and women as pizzas, with white women being identified as cheese pizzas. "It's a little cheesy," she warns.
Furthermore, "deluxe pizzas"—presumably those topped with pepperoni, mushrooms, bell peppers, and olives, or some similar combination—correspond to women of color within her theory. Therefore, the struggle for cheese pizzas to achieve the same recognition as burgers, despite their equal level of deliciousness—"You can go anywhere and get a burger, burgers are the go-to fast food … so you're trying to say, pizza's just as good as burgers," she explains—overshadows the plight of deluxe pizzas to enjoy those same rights and privileges.
And there you go: a little feminist theory served on a deep-dish crust. Still a little confused about intersectionality? Take this pizza-burger conversation and try to think of it in the terms outlined by feminist law professor Kimberlé Crenshaw, who coined the term in 1989: "Intersectionality draws attention to invisibilities that exist in feminism, in anti-racism, in class politics, so obviously it takes a lot of work to consistently challenge ourselves to be attentive to aspects of power that we don't ourselves experience."
In other words, if you're a burger, you may take for granted your own ubiquitousness and think to yourself, "Hell, pizza's everywhere." The chasm between burgers and pizza may seem smaller to you than it would to that of a cheese pizza, who can detect the inequality in everyday interactions. Now take that a step further and mentally render the experience of a deluxe pizza. Sure, you're "deluxe," and everyone knows what you are, but you're not being ordered and devoured nearly as frequently as your cheesy counterparts.
"Deluxe pizza's unique features are often celebrated when they occur unnaturally on cheese pizzas," Akilah points out. "When we talk about pizza rights, we need to be talking about all pizzas. Not just cheese pizzas that are deemed socially acceptable and worthy of saving and worthy of having a place in popular culture," Akilah says.
She also notes that we need to keep the conversation inclusive to "pizzas that identify as burgers" and "pizzas with different toppings, because as great as it is to uplift cheese pizzas, the world could use a lot more flavor."
What Double Bacon Cheeseburger could argue with that?