Dr. Linda E. Thomas’ reflections on renamed Albert “Pete” Pero, Jr. and Cheryl Stewart Pero Center for Intersectionality Studies February 28, 2022

The name change from The Albert “Pete” Pero, Jr. Multicultural Center to The Albert “Pete” Pero, Jr. and Cheryl Stewart Pero Center for Intersectionality Studies addresses the need for LSTC and theological schools in general to analyze overlapping oppressions of various marginalized groups that the term multiculturalism did not and does not address. For example, intersectionality addresses the multiple oppressions faced by a Queer Latinx woman or a straight, White man who is physically disabled and living in poverty. Society discriminates against such people because they are outside what is considered “perfect” and “normal.” While multiculturalism is essential for authentic diversity in society, it does not address inequity and discrimination faced by minoritized peoples such as those just named. Intersectionality, a term coined by legal theorist Kimberly Crenshaw in 1989, differs from multiculturalism. The goal of intersectionality is to empower those who face multiple, overlapping oppressions to claim their full humanity and flourish in culturally diverse societies even when said societies are still controlled by systemic white supremacy. Intersectionality involves power analysis as well, in that it asks who has power based on race, sexuality, able-bodiedness, gender identity, socio-economic status, etc.

In light of the Center’s new focus on Intersectionality studies, I wanted Dr. Cheryl Stewart Pero’s name added to move the Center into a new era and demonstrate the very intersectional awareness I hope the Center will analyze and embody. Dr. Albert “Pete” Pero and Dr. Cheryl Stewart Pero were equally yoked. With black women so often being left out of the picture, though, I wanted Dr. Cheryl Stewart Pero to be brought front and center. Therefore, the name change makes Dr. Cheryl Stewart Pero’s past work as Director of the Center visible for the long-term study and praxis of Intersectionality at LSTC.

In my new role as Director of the Albert “Pete” Pero, Jr. and Cheryl Stewart Pero Center for Intersectionality Studies, I have planned several events. First is a forum called “What is Intersectionality?” with guest scholars giving presentations on this question. Then I hope to host other seminars on theological intersectionality, African and African American dialogue around intersectionality, a conference addressing embodied knowledge in light of white supremacy, and a panel on disability. Finally, I am in the process of planning a new course sequence at LSTC, including a foundational course about hermeneutics for theological intersectionality and a second course related to a specific topic addressing theological intersectionality.

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The Lutheran School of Theology (LSTC) is dedicated to bearing witness to the good news of Jesus Christ. Based in Chicago’s Hyde Park neighborhood, it is the leading urban Lutheran seminary training students for purposeful vocations in the global community. Aligned with its Lutheran heritage and built on a foundation of intellectual rigor, LSTC’s innovative, nationally recognized curriculum gives students skills for visionary Christian leadership in the public sphere.

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