There are many outstanding personalities among the women of color, who have already made and continue to contribute significantly to world poetry, sport, education, and other spheres. Particular attention must be paid to those females who achieved considerable results in struggle for women’s rights, equality issues, and helped change the state of life, which non-white females have in the United States. Kimberle Crenshaw is one of such personalities. She is known not only as a professor at a couple of universities, but also as a person who coined the term ‘intersexuality’ and is currently working on the legal aspects of this issue.
Kimberle Crenshaw devotes all her life to investigating the problem of racial and gender discrimination with regard to legal perspective. This African American woman is extremely aware of everything which deals with the discrimination directed towards women of color as her education was not limited by graduation from one school only. Having acquired a Bachelor of Arts in the Cornell University, Kimberle later gained a degree of Doctor of Jurisprudence in one of the most respectable establishments in the world, Harvard Law School. After that, Crenshaw continued her education at the University of Wisconsin, having graduated as the Master of Law (“Kimberle Crenshaw’s Biography”). Having gained the knowledge needed to start investigating the problem of discrimination among women of color, Kimberle decided not to postpone her work and started writing articles and teaching at the universities. Currently, the scientist is a professor of law at two universities: UCLA and Columbia (Columbia Law School). She is often invited to other schools to lecture about intersectionality and discrimination issues. In addition to that, Crenshaw currently works in the Center for Intersectionality and Social Policy Studies (CISPS) in Columbia, performing the duties of a director (Columbia Law School). Moreover, Kimberle along with other people founded the African American Policy Forum. Through the constant research and teaching, the scientist perfects her skills and tries to contribute to the investigation of the problems women of color face.
The range of Crenshaw’s activities is impressive. The scholar specializes in jurisprudence, and studies civil rights, racism, inequality, and other problems. In addition to that, the professor is an active member of feminist movement, so she focuses on the legal theory of black feminists as well (Columbia Law School). Such scientific journals as National Black Law Journal, Harvard Law Review, and others publish the articles Crenshaw writes (“Kimberle Crenshaw's Biography”). She manages to focus on many things at the same time, paying attention to many diverse and dubious aspects.
An important aspect of her studies and work is that Kimberle takes a holistic approach to all questions she discusses. Crenshaw does not separate law from the feminist theory or fight for equality. The scientist interconnects different fields of investigation and therefore, creates a unique individual approach to the subject of the research. One of instances of such view on the problem is that Kimberle considers that black women are discriminated in both ways, sexually and racially (Smith), so they have to deal with doubled pressure. Therefore, it is needed to find the solution for both kinds of inequality at the same time.
As a lawyer, Crenshaw makes some contribution to the development of the U.S. and world legal systems. Women of color experience two types of discrimination at the same time, but the law states that in fact they undergo sex/gender-based inequality only. The definition of sexism, which is used by the government, refers to discrimination based on sex that all females, including white ones, face (Smith). Racism presupposes discrimination of all people of color, including males. Thus, the double inequality black females have to deal with remains ‘invisible’ (Smith). However, it is needed to find an inseparable solution for both problems.
The issue of double discrimination is not a new concept. According to Smith, the scientists used different terms to describe it. However, none of them came up with the specific word to refer to the problem that prevents women of color from living happily in any society. For this reason, Crenshaw decided to think of some metaphor that could be used on a daily basis, attracting attention of as many people as possible (Adewunmi). The scientist indicates:
In every generation and in every intellectual sphere and in every political moment, there have been African American women who have articulated the need to think and talk about race through a lens that looks at gender, or think and talk about feminism through a lens that looks at race. (as quoted in Adewunmi)
Kimberle Crenshaw states that her research and the concept she coined is the continuation to the research other Black women began. The word she chose comes from the noun “intersection”, symbolizing the crossroads of different concepts, issues, and questions. Women of color are on the intersection of at least two types of discrimination at the same time, racial and sexual. Therefore, the term that describes their situation and the theory directed to studying and amending it is called intersectionality. Crenshaw coined it in 1989, and since then the concept became widely used as it describes the problem of inequality that women of color face in one catchy word. The legal system refuses to accept the existence of such issue and therefore, does not try to find the appropriate name for it. On the contrary, Crenshaw proves the fact that the problem exists and finds a name for it and claims that it is needed to incorporate “the applicability of black feminism to anti-discrimination law” in order to solve the issue (as quoted in Adewunmi). Moreover, the scientist in her article “Mapping the Margins: Intersectionality, Identity Politics, and Violence against Women of Color” states that the identity politics that predominates in the society makes people ignore the differences between groups and consequently contributes to tension among them (Crenshaw 1241). This tension politicizes “violence against women” (Crenshaw 1241). The author states that the feminists try to deal with the violence against women as well as anti-racist protests. The thing is that the issues intersect for non-white females and none of the streams (either feministic or antiracist) deals with both of them. Kimberley Crenshaw assumes that not only the legal system, but also other organizations do not treat both problems that women of color have to solve by themselves from a joined perspective. Therefore, she thinks that it is her primary duty to inform as many people as possible about the real situation and create the conditions that will foster the change (Crenshaw). Being a devoted Black feminist, Crenshaw does not give up the idea that the additional investigation and informing people about the intersectionality theory will bring positive alteration to current state of things.
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Kimberle Crenshaw is a historically significant woman of color because she brought the problem of discrimination interaction to the global perspective. Earlier, when the scientist did not devote so much time to the investigation of the problem, the system did not consider it as an issue at all. Now, when Crenshaw provides sufficient evidence to prove that intersectionality and double discrimination are extremely problematic aspects, the legal system continues to ignore it. The results of such ignorance are dreadful: “The consequence of that is when African American women or any other women of colour experience either compound or overlapping discrimination, the law initially just was not there to come to their defence” (as quoted in Adewunmi). However, thanks to the devotedness and constant fight of Kimberle Crenshaw and her followers, there is a possibility that everything will change in the nearest future. Moreover, Crenshaw continues to announce publically about the importance of the issue, so the state will not be able to ignore her requests for a long time. With regard to the fact that the scientist proves that there is a direct connection between intersectionality and economic problems women of color have (Crenshaw 1245), one might assume that there is a very good chance that there will be some changes at the state level. Moreover, many universities support this researcher in her implication that more broad approach in comparison to the one followed now is required in order to solve some major problems such as high poverty level. Non-white females constitute the greatest part of the population that lives under poverty line, so the amendment of their situation will contribute to the changes at the state level.
To conclude, Kimberle Crenshaw is the world-famous scientist who focuses on the black feminist legal theory, civil rights, racial and sexual discrimination, inequality, and other burning issues of the modern society. Crenshaw became famous for finding the name for the double discrimination that women of color have to deal with, which is intersectionality. The concept presupposes that non-white females are on the crossroad of two directions of discrimination, sexual and racial, so their problem should be regarded with attention paid to both factors. Currently, the researcher works as a professor in two universities and lectures in many different ones all over the world as her theory has gained wide recognition.