In short, intersectionality isn’t a theory of difference. It’s a theory of oppression. And when we treat it simply as a way to understand our differences, we erase its powerfully subversive critique.
We’re talking racial liberalism in the sense put forth by Charles Mills and Kimberlé Crenshaw. Liberalism reflects a way of thinking about injustice and inequity in society. Liberalism as an ideology emphasizes reform – relatively small tweaks to fundamentally unjust systems – that preserve the overarching structure and as a result poses little threat to the racial contract.
Whereas intersectionality (as a tenet of Critical Race Theory) challenges the very foundations and structures of our society, demanding profound transformation, liberalism (by intent or impact) preserves Whiteness as property and the White supremacist, capitalist hetero-patriarchy (to borrow from bell hooks).