Recognizing Action with Kimberlé Crenshaw
By: Jenna Woodring, MPAC Policy Intern
As this year’s Black History Month comes to a close, we must continue to remember the lasting legacies of Black Americans and the triumphs and the complex discourses that have shaped, and continue to shape, the fabric of our nation.
One of the many Black Americans that are shaping our world is Kimberlé Crenshaw, a respected scholar, professor, writer, and civil rights advocate who pioneered the educational and political landscapes through her innovative work, most notably on intersectionality and the Critical Race Theory (CRT). Through her profound work, Crenshaw introduced a recognition of the overlap between social identities, notably minority identities, and their relation to systems of oppression and discrimination. In the wake of these tremendous achievements, Crenshaw has sought to change the current treatment of communities of color and the continued systemic oppression through public activism and her co-founded think tank, The African American Policy Forum (AAPF).
In the 1980s, Crenshaw coined the term Critical Race Theory, which has since gained large-scale prominence. Most recently, the Movement for Black Lives, propelled by incidents of police brutality and the murders of unarmed Black individuals, inspired a nationwide recognition of the injustices and racism against Black Americans. The terms Critical Race Theory and intersectionality began to reach hundreds of news outlets, scholars, and politicians with pushback from critics. Despite the controversy surrounding the CRT, the basis of Crenshaw’s advocacy is rooted in the need for change in our institutions and the desire to give a platform to marginalized groups to share the unique oppression they face.
Through Crenshaw’s work, collective action has united communities across our nation. The AAPF has continued to foster community engagement through media outreach through Op-Eds, statements, news articles, and radio outlets. Additionally, Crenshaw teaches race and gender courses at UCLA School of Law and Columbia Law School which continue to gain recognition.
The legacy Crenshaw has brought through her groundbreaking work has been prominent nationally and internationally. Crenshaw has been cited as influential in the drafting of the equality clause in the Constitution of South Africa. She authored a background paper for the United Nations World Conference on Racism in 2001 and co-founded the AAPF #SayHerName and #TruthBeTold campaigns.
The fight against injustice deeply resonates with us at MPAC, and we continue working diligently with the government and community to improve public understanding, combat negative stereotypes, and block bigoted policies that impact not just American Muslims but all Americans. We strive to celebrate the diversity of American Muslims and promote community engagement through our organization.
As we close out Black History Month and celebrate the diversity of American Muslims and reflect on the history of Black Americans, MPAC and our African American Muslim Insight Council stays committed to working towards full rights and opportunities for all Americans.