“I Am a Conversation”: Gem Fusion, Privilege, and Intersectionality



Zolciak explores Cartoon Network’s Steven Universe in the context of intersectionality, specifically analyzing its depiction of gender, race, and sexuality. Using Jack Halberstam’s notion of Pixarvolt and Colin and Bilge’s definition of intersectionality, Zolciak suggests that although the show’s subject matter and themes are groundbreaking for a children’s show, it nevertheless employs a variety of stereotypes while meeting its progressive agenda. Considering race in conjunction with queerness, she analyzes specific episodes of Steven Universe in order to argue that the show still conforms to the type of suggested, rather than explicit, revolt defined by Halberstam. Zolciak demonstrates the failure of intersectionality in these episodes, and how the show ultimately reinforces and complicates stereotypes of Black women.


  1. Adams-Bass, Valerie N., Howard C. Stevenson, and Diana Slaughter Kotzin. 2014. “Measuring the Meaning of Black Media Stereotypes and Their Relationship to the Racial Identity, Black History Knowledge, and Racial Socialization of African American Youth.” Journal of Black Studies 45 (5): 367–395. Scholar
  2. Alim, H. Samy, Geneva Smitherman, and Michael Eric Dyson. 2012. Articulate While Black Barack Obama, Language, and Race in the US. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  3. Allen, Sherrie Sims. 2015. “Transforming Rage: Revisioning the Myth of the Angry Black Woman.” Dissertation, Pacifica Graduate Institute.Google Scholar
  4. Allison, Scott, and George R. Goethals. 2010. Heroes: What They Do and Why We Need Them. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  5. Collins, Patricia Hill. 2000. Black Feminist Thought: Knowledge, Consciousness, and the Politics of Empowerment. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  6. Collins, Patricia Hill, and Sirma Bilge. 2016. Intersectionality. Cambridge: Polity Press.Google Scholar
  7. Demarest, Rebecca. 2010. “Superheroes, Superpowers, and Sexuality.” Inquiries Journal 2 (10).
  8. Desmond, Jane. 1994. “Embodying Difference: Issues in Dance and Cultural Studies.” Cultural Critique 26: 33–63.Google Scholar
  9. Dunn, Eli. 2016. “Steven Universe, Fusion Magic, and the Queer Cartoon Carnivalesque.” Gender Forum 56: 44–57.Google Scholar
  10. Freire, Paulo. 1972. Pedagogy of the Oppressed. New York: Herder and Herder.Google Scholar
  11. Golden, Marita. 1995. “Introduction.” In Skin Deep: Black Women and White Women Write About Race, edited by Marita Golden and Susan Richards Shreve, 1–6. New York: Anchor Books.Google Scholar
  12. Halberstam, Jack. 2011. The Queer Art of Failure. Durham: Duke University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. hooks, bell. 1992. Black Looks: Race and Representation. Boston: South End Press.Google Scholar
  14. Jerald, Morgan C., L. Monique Ward, Lolita Moss, Khia Thomas, and Kyla D. Fletcher. 2016. “Subordinates, Sex Objects, or Sapphires? Investigating Contributions of Media Use to Black Students’ Femininity Ideologies and Stereotypes About Black Women.” Journal of Black Psychology 43 (6): 608–635. Scholar
  15. Klein, Hugh, and Kenneth S. Shiffman. 2006. “Race-Related Content of Animated Cartoons.” Howard Journal of Communications 17 (3): 163–182. Scholar
  16. Nama, Adilifu. 2011. Super Black: American Pop Culture and Black Superheroes. Austin: University of Texas Press.Google Scholar
  17. Nasrin, Shahana. 2013. Aftermath of Rape: Stories of Rape Victims’ Struggle and Survival. Journal of Current Issues in Crime, Law & Law Enforcement 6 (4): 423–451.Google Scholar
  18. “Noblewoman’s Laugh.” TV Tropes. Accessed August 31, 2017.
  19. Wilson, Midge, and Kathy Russell. 1997. Divided Sisters: Bridging the Gap Between Black Women and White Women. New York: Anchor Books.Google Scholar

Episodes Referenced

  1. “Back to the Barn” (season 2, episode 20, 2015)Google Scholar
  2. “Coach Steven” (season 1, episode 20, 2014)Google Scholar
  3. “Cry for Help” (season 2, episode 11, 2015)Google Scholar
  4. “Friend Ship” (season 2, episode 15, 2015)Google Scholar
  5. “Giant Woman” (season 1, episode 12, 2014)Google Scholar
  6. “Jail Break” (season 1, episode 52, 2015)Google Scholar
  7. “Keystone Motel” (season 2, episode 12, 2015)Google Scholar
  8. “Log Date 7 15 2” (season 2, episode 26, 2016)Google Scholar
  9. “Love Letters” (season 2, episode 4, 2015)Google Scholar
  10. “Mr. Greg” (season 3, episode 8, 2016)Google Scholar
  11. “Sadie’s Song” (season 2, episode 17, 2015)Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of ToledoToledoUSA

Personalised recommendations