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14 Harv. Women's L.J. 21 (1991)
Separate Identities: Black Women, Work, and Title VII

handle is hein.journals/hwlj14 and id is 35 raw text is: SEPARATE IDENTITIES: BLACK WOMEN, WORK,
AND TITLE VII
PEGGIE R. SMITH*
No other group in America has so had their identity social-
ized out of existence as have black women. We are rarely
recognized as a group separate and distinct from black men,
or as a present part of the larger group women in this
culture .... When black people are talked about the focus
tends to be on black men; and when women are talked about
the focus tends to be on white women.'
INTRODUCTION
Creating a critical consciousness that recognizes the distinc-
tiveness of Black women's experiences has been an ongoing
concern of Black women who have a shared awareness of how
their sexual identity combine[s] with their racial identity to make
their whole life situation and the focus of their political struggle
unique.'2 In recent years, this awareness has gained expression
in the work of Black women legal scholars. From a range of
perspectives, they have posed a common question: How does
the law account for the unique social and historical location of
Black women whose realities often encompass the interaction
between racial and gender oppression? This Article addresses
* J.D. Candidate, Harvard Law School 1993. B.A. 1987, M.A. 1990, Yale University.
I am deeply indebted to Catharine MacKinnon and Rhonda Williams, my advisors
during the writing of this Article in its thesis format while I was a graduate student in the
Program of African American Studies at Yale University. Along with Kim Blankenship,
they gave generously of their time and provided invaluable guidance and stimulating
criticisms. For their support and encouragement, a special acknowledgement of thanks
to Stefanie Balandis and Kevin Williams.
1 BELL HOOKS, AIN'T I A WOMAN 7 (1981).
2 COMBAHEE RIVER COLLECTIVE, THE COMBAHEE RIVER COLLECTIVE STATEMENT:
BLACK FEMINIST ORGANIZING IN THE SEVENTIES AND EIGHTIES 10 (1986).

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