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1989 U. Chi. Legal F. 139 (1989)
Demarginalizing the Intersection of Race and Sex: A Black Feminist Critique of Antidiscrimination Doctrine, Feminist Theory and Antiracist Politics

handle is hein.journals/uchclf1989 and id is 143 raw text is: Demarginalizing the Intersection of Race
and Sex: A Black Feminist Critique of
Antidiscrimination Doctrine, Feminist
Theory and Antiracist Politics
Kimberle Crenshawt
One of the very few Black women's studies books is entitled
All the Women Are White; All the Blacks Are Men, But Some of
Us are Brave.1 I have chosen this title as a point of departure in
my efforts to develop a Black feminist criticism2 because it sets
forth a problematic consequence of the tendency to treat race and
gender as mutually exclusive categories of experience and analysis.'
In this talk, I want to examine how this tendency is perpetuated
by a single-axis framework that is dominant in antidiscrimination
law and that is also reflected in feminist theory and antiracist
I will center Black women in this analysis in order to contrast
the multidimensionality of Black women's experience with the sin-
gle-axis analysis that distorts these experiences. Not only will this
juxtaposition reveal how Black women are theoretically erased, it
will also illustrate how this framework imports its own theoretical
limitations that undermine efforts to broaden feminist and an-
t Acting Professor of Law, University of California, Los Angeles Law School.
Gloria T. Hull, et al, eds (The Feminist Press, 1982).
For other work setting forth a Black feminist perspective on law, see Judy Scales-
Trent, Black Women and the Constitution: Finding Our Place, Asserting Our Rights
(Voices of Experience: New Responses to Gender Discourse), 24 Harv CR-CL L Rev 9
(1989); Regina Austin, Sapphire-Bound!, forthcoming in Wisc Women's L J (1989); Angela
Harris, Race and Essentialism in Feminist Legal Theory (unpublished manuscript on file
with author); and Paulette M. Caldwell, A Hair Piece (unpublished manuscript on file with
The most common linguistic manifestation of this analytical dilemma is represented
in the conventional usage of the term Blacks and women. Although it may be true that
some people mean to include Black women in either Blacks or women, the context in
which the term is used actually suggests that often Black women are not considered. See, for
example, Elizabeth Spelman, The Inessential Woman 114-15 (Beacon Press, 1988) (discuss-
ing an article on Blacks and women in the military where the racial identity of those iden-
tified as 'women' does not become explicit until reference is made to Black women, at which
point it also becomes clear that the category of women excludes Black women). It seems
that if Black women were explicitly included, the preferred term would be either Blacks
and white women or Black men and all women.

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