Brother: A Novel

The Theory of Intersectionality In Brother

How does “intersectionality” help us see how the experiences of Aisha is different from those of Francis, Michael, and Jelly? You may want to consider experiences at work, in the community, and with law enforcement.

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David Chariandy's uses the theory of intersectionality to illustrate how negative racial stereotypes that are portrayed in the media manifest in increased policing of black communities, which then sets in motion a feedback loop increasing the perception that black men are criminals. News coverage of dangerous black criminals is a recurring theme in the novel, from when Michael and Francis were young and scared by the "black murderers" (155) on the news, to the reactionary hysteria that followed Anton's shooting. After the shooting, the newspapers ran "updates, columns, letters to the editor" (72), some of which "called for a crackdown on crime, others for much more" (73).

Indeed there was a massive increase in police presence around Scarborough after the shooting. In one scene where Michael and Aisha leave the library, they see three cop cars in a row. It is mentioned multiple times that most young men were stopped by the police at one point or another. There are also a number of instances in which the police invade Desirea's, ostensibly for a noise complaint or a fight—which in any case didn't take place at Desirea's—and harass the crew, search them for drugs, and generally treat them like criminals when they were minding their own business. The incessant police harassment ends up killing Francis.

Even though it is common knowledge that people were being stopped by the police for arbitrary reasons all the time, it still left a stigma on those who were seen being stopped by the police. Michael's mother was furious when she found out that Francis was spending time at Desirea's because it meant that he was with young men who were known to the police, and Michael at one point, before ever having met him, was wary of Jelly because he knew he had been stopped by the police. It can also be observed that the attitude of some of their neighbors changed towards them after the police escorted Michael and Francis home the night of the shooting. These examples suggest that, even if no crime was committed, increased policing perpetuates the perception that black youth are criminals, and this then increases calls for more policing. In the end, it is innocent young men like Francis who are born into a predetermined position and pay the price for a process that happens way beyond their control.


Brother: A Novel, BookRags