Kimberlé Crenshaw: Intersectionality and Gender Equality | Summary and Q&A

March 14, 2016
Southbank Centre
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Kimberlé Crenshaw: Intersectionality and Gender Equality


Intersectionality is a framework that examines how various forms of discrimination, such as racism and sexism, intersect and compound each other, leading to unique burdens for individuals who experience multiple forms of discrimination.

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Key Insights

  • 🌍 Intersectionality is a concept that addresses multiple failures within law, politics, and feminism, particularly in regards to employment discrimination and court proceedings. Black women faced intersectional discrimination and were often excluded from employment opportunities due to their gender and race.
  • 💪 Intersectional failures from the past continue to shape modern politics and create limitations in feminist and anti-racist movements. Feminism that does not contest the logics of racism and anti-racism that refuses to take up questions of patriarchy reinforce systemic oppression.
  • 🔍 Intersectionality helps us understand the consequences of not having an intersectional politics, particularly in terms of gender-based violence and the experiences of women of color. Black girls are disproportionately suspended, expelled, and subjected to violence in schools, yet their experiences are often overlooked in conversations about racism and sexism.
  • ⚖️ Intersectional failures are clear in cases of state violence against black women. The police abuse and kill black women in the same circumstances they do black men, yet this issue is often overlooked in discussions and movements against police violence and feminism.
  • 🗣️ Saying her name is necessary to bring awareness to the intersectional violence that black women face. By recognizing and acknowledging these atrocities, we can no longer legitimize their invisibility or silence their stories.


good afternoon wow well first I want to just say how honored I am to be here this is uh a wonderful wonderful opportunity I want to thank my new friend uh for providing this um exciting uh opportunity for us to share some of our aspirations for a truly global intersectional uh movement so um I wear a lot of hats and today I'm going to wear two um o... Read More

Questions & Answers

Q: Why did intersectionality emerge as a framework for understanding discrimination?

Intersectionality emerged as a framework in response to the unique challenges faced by black women who experienced exclusion and discrimination due to both their race and gender. It aimed to draw attention to and address the overlap of multiple forms of discrimination that were not adequately addressed by existing feminist and anti-racist movements.

Q: How does non-intersectional feminism and anti-racism reinforce each other?

Non-intersectional feminism historically relied on racial hierarchy in arguments for women's rights, reinforcing the exclusion of women of color. Similarly, anti-racist advocacy that neglects questions of patriarchy perpetuates gendered power imbalances. By reinforcing each other, these movements fail to address intersecting forms of discrimination, further marginalizing certain groups.

Q: How does intersectionality address the invisibility of certain forms of discrimination?

Intersectionality highlights the experiences and vulnerabilities of individuals who are subject to multiple forms of discrimination but may be overlooked or marginalized within non-intersectional frameworks. By acknowledging and centering these experiences, intersectionality aims to bring attention to the hidden dimensions of discrimination and advocate for more inclusive support.

Q: What are some examples of intersectional failures in contemporary society?

One example is the "My Brother's Keeper" program, which focuses on men and boys of color and underachievement without addressing racism or racial power. This exclusivity neglects the experiences of girls and women of color who face similar structural problems. Another example is the disproportionate suspension and expulsion rates of black girls in schools, which often go unnoticed due to the focus on black boys. These instances illustrate the need for intersectional approaches in addressing discrimination.

Q: How does intersectionality shed light on the experiences of women of color in cases of sexual and state violence?

Intersectional analysis highlights the specific vulnerabilities faced by women of color in cases of sexual and state violence. It calls attention to the fact that women of color often face unique challenges, such as being less likely to be believed or receiving lower sentences for perpetrators, which may go unaddressed within non-intersectional approaches. This understanding emphasizes the need to widen the scope of anti-violence movements to encompass the intersectional dimensions of these issues.

Summary & Key Takeaways

  • Intersectionality was developed to address the overlapping and compounding discrimination faced by black women in employment contexts, where they were excluded due to both their race and gender.

  • Non-intersectional feminism and anti-racism often reinforce each other, as feminist arguments historically relied on racial hierarchy and anti-racist advocacy neglected questions of patriarchy, perpetuating unequal power dynamics.

  • The failure to have an intersectional politics leads to the exclusion of certain groups, such as girls and women of color, from discussions on racial and gender abuse, resulting in unseen vulnerabilities and diminished support.

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