After Another Year in the Fray, We Thank You for Being in our Corner!


Dear AAPF Family,

The events of the past year have underscored the urgency of using intersectionality to build a more equitable world for people of all genders, races and nationalities.

During a time of global upheaval, we’ve been buoyed and energized by our tremendous community, and all of us at AAPF are deeply grateful for your solidarity and goodwill. We tip our hats to you, our backers whose support is the cornerstone of all that we do.  It’s your engagement that enables all of the triumphs summarized here, and we couldn’t do it without you. With your help, we organize, we bring people together, we raise awareness, we develop leadership, we mobilize arts for activism, we inspire. We fight against the rollback in civil rights, justice, and every effort undertaken since 2016 to reverse the hard fought victories of the past, and we thank all of our supporters for making it possible.

If you’d like to see this work continue to grow in 2019, we ask that you make a tax deductible donation to AAPF today. Your support powers our fight and any contribution makes a difference.

As 2018 winds down, we want to recap the ways we’ve been fighting for intersectional justice on all fronts this year. We are excited that you are on this journey with us, and we hope that the progress we’ve made will inspire your continued support in 2019 and beyond!

Say Her Name Campaign

#SayHerName Fourth Anniversary and Day of Remembrance

Earlier this month, we commemorated the four-year anniversary of the Say Her Name campaign. AAPF first marched under the banner of Black women killed by the police on December 14, 2014 at the NYC Millions March, an anti-police brutality demonstration fueled in part by grand jury decisions not to indict police officers for the deaths of Eric Garner and Michael Brown. Marching together with 30,000 protesters, we urged others to join us to “say her name” and uplift the stories of Black women, girls and femmes who were killed by the police, and whose names often got excluded from dominant narratives around police violence.

Since that day, #SayHerName has emerged as a rallying cry around the globe, demanding that violence against Black women is treated with the same urgency and awareness as violence against their brothers.

To acknowledge the four-year milestone and pay homage to the lives that should have been, AAPF released a new video highlighting the incredible members of the #SayHerName Mothers Network, and  issued a statement addressing the state of the movement four years in.

Say Her Name Families

First brought together in 2015 to attend the first ever #SayHerName Vigil in Union Square, the Mothers of Say Her Name are a group of Black women who have all lost daughters to police violence and have organized to collectively demand accountability. Since then, the Mothers Network has joined together on a number of occasions, marching at the Women’s March on Washington, lobbying for police reform on Capitol Hill, and joining together for several focus groups and planning sessions to strategize around the initiative and to assess the needs of new family members who’ve lost their daughters to police violence.

In March 2018, the group gathered for its third annual #SayHerName Mothers Weekend in New York City. As the movement continues to grow, the weekends provide mothers who have all lost daughters to police violence with the opportunity to form connections with each other and build a community of support and collective action. Among many other activities that weekend, the mothers were featured in the talkback following the matinee performance of Eve Ensler’s “In the Body of the World” at Manhattan Theatre Club. Later that month, the #SayHerName Campaign and Mothers Network were featured in a video by NowThis!.

BYP’s National Week of Action

This year, we collaborated with several other organizations and individuals to further the work of #SayHerName and demand a gender-inclusive understanding of police violence. In June 2018, a dozen grassroots organizations led by Black Youth Project 100 came together to stage a nationwide Say Her Name Week of Action. Other partners included Black Lives Matter Global Network, BlackOUT Collective, Freedom, Inc., INCITE! Women of Color Against Violence, Southerners on New Ground, Solutions Not Punishment Collaborative, Survived and Punished, Transgender Gender Variant and Intersex Justice Project, UndocuBlack Network, and Women With a Vision.

Social Justice SOS & Reconstructing Our Democracy

Three days after the 2016 US presidential election, AAPF brought together 13 social justice leaders from across the country, including Alicia Garza, Robin Kelly, Dallas Goldtooth, Eve Ensler, and Mary Frances Berry, to make sense of the devastating election outcome and chart a path forward in a virtual town hall called Social Justice SOS: What Happened, What's Coming and Why We Must Join Together Against Hate. The conversation that followed was profoundly enlightening and galvanizing, and was later released as a report.

On the one-year anniversary of our initial SOS conversation, AAPF hosted Social Justice SOS Revisited, an effort to take stock of what transpired under 45’s first year in office, and to strategize around how progressives can most effectively challenge and confront legislative and physical attacks on marginalized communities.

This year, the SOS series traveled down to Atlanta, Georgia. Reconstructing Our Democracy: A Midterms Post-Mortem & Call to Action took place at the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum four days after the midterm elections, and featured the voices of pioneering activists and scholars such as Carol Anderson, Barbara Arnwine, Helen Butler, Angélica Cházaro, Brittney Cooper, Daniel HoSang, Robin Kelley, Nikhil Pal Singh, Azadeh Shahshahani, Monica Simpson, and Tim Wise. The conversation was moderated by Kimberlé Crenshaw. The insightful conversation grappled with the immediate aftermath of the results and illuminated the possible pathways forwards.

As Nikhil Pal Singh observed at the Carter Library, “we live in a period where we’re seeing the destruction of intermediating institutions---like unions for example---where people got information about their interests that could help them to form better political judgment.”  Responding to precisely that gap, the SOS series facilitates collaboration between some of the country’s most eminent thinkers to vigorously reimagine the advancement of democratic values in a time of unrest. It was particularly affecting to engage a community galvanized Stacey Abram’s historic campaign. Though there was understandable frustration and disappointment with the outcome of the race for the Georgia Governor’s mansion, we felt nourished by the resilience, ingenuity and hope that emanated from the dynamic conversation, and from the community members from across the region who showed up in soaring numbers to sell out the event.

Her Dream Deferred

At the end of each March, in honor of Women's History Month and the UN’s International Decade for People of African Descent, AAPF hosts Her Dream Deferred, a weeklong series of activities focused on elevating the crises facing Black women and girls. Since 2015, AAPF has partnered with Senator Kirsten Gillibrand to proclaim the last week of March to be Black Women’s History Week through Congressional Declaration. In 2018, Senator Kamala Harris joined the declaration.

2018 marked the 4th Annual Her Dream Deferred, and for the first time, it was held in Washington DC. The week kicked off with a #SayHerName activist happy hour at Busboys and Poets, and an arts and activism workshop at the Google Headquarters, where three of our Artists in Residence guided 50 women of all ages through sessions in song, dance, acting, and meditation that uplifted the legacy of Harriet Tubman in a program called “Recovering Harriet: An Interactive Evening of Arts and Action.”  The evening functioned as a condensed incarnation of our Breaking Silence summer camp. Each participant was able to fine-tune a creative contribution to a short play written by Kimberlé Crenshaw called Harriet.  For the final hour of this session, participants came together to perform on stage alongside AAPF staff members and professional actors. Several of our workshop participants joined us the following night at the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture as performers in Harriet’s Daughters: An Evening of Conversation and Celebration.

We concluded the week with a sold out and widely streamed panel entitled: “From Birth Control to Death: Facing Black Women’s Maternal Mortality”. The event drew upon the insights of scholarly experts, community organizers, lawyers, and policy advocates to respond to the staggering mortality rates that plague prospective Black mothers.  A closed-door roundtable session with panellists, community members and experts at the Institute for Women’s Policy Research followed. The roundtable served as an effective way to debrief, identify future areas for research, and discuss possibilities for further collaborative work.

International Projects

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We realize that intersectional oppression is not just a US problem, and that the crises facing us here are inextricably linked to those facing marginalized people abroad. In 2018, we collaborated with partners in the UK, EU, in the Americas and the Caribbean.   We coordinated an intensive course at the London School of Economics on Intersectional Politics, which PhD candidates from universities across London attended. Also in the UK, we led a master course on Intersectionality at the How the Light Gets In Philosophy Festival in Hay-On-Wye in Wales; anchored a session on Critical Race Theory at the Race and Shakespeare Conference hosted at Shakespeare’s Globe in London; and facilitated a workshop  on critical race theory and intersectionality with UK scholar Kehinde Andrews. Over the summer, E.D. Crenshaw lectured at the the International School of Transnational Decolonial Black Feminism in the Americas, held in Brazil, and AAPF hosted its annual Social Justice Writers’ Retreat in Jamaica. We continue to engage in generative collaborations with our sister institute, the Center for Intersectional Justice in Germany.

Intersectionality Matters Podcast

This past November, we announced and released a special preview episode of, a brand new podcast from AAPF, Intersectionality Matters!, which is scheduled to premiere in January 2019.  Hosted by Kimberlé Crenshaw, the podcast is an idea travelogue that brings the concept of intersectionality to life by highlighting the work of leading activists, artists, and scholars.  The podcast will explore the hidden dimensions of some of today’s most pressing issues and help listeners understand politics, the law, social movements, and even their own lives in deeper, more nuanced ways.

Featuring on-the-ground interviews with some of the world's most innovative activists, artists, and scholars, each episode explores a different topic through an intersectional lens, ranging from the resistance against Trumpism to grassroots activism in Brazil and the Congo to #SayHerName and the future of the #MeToo movement.

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Research & Public Education Collaborations with CISPS

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Recent months have seen an expansion of activities at AAPF’s sister organization, the Center for Intersectionality and Social Policy Studies (CISPS), at Columbia Law School. As part of its mission to facilitate intellectual dialogue between innovative intersectionality scholars and integrate intersectional research and analysis into policy debates and social justice advocacy, CISPS held two full-house events in the fall semester at Columbia. The first, Say Her Name: Marielle Franco - Intersectional Fatalities Across the Americas, was an incisive exchange between CISPS Executive Director Kimberlé Crenshaw and Jurema Werneck, the Director of Amnesty International in Brazil. The event provided the public with an entree into a riveting conversation between two pioneering Black woman feminist and antiracist activists. Their dialogue covered the recent assassination of Marielle Franco, a Black Brazilian feminist LGBT activist and Councillor in Rio De Janeiro and the pursuit of justice for persons victimized by intersectional violence in Brazil and throughout the Americas.

The second event was a panel entitled Asian Americans & Affirmative Action | Understanding SFFA v. Harvard which featured experts on affirmative action and Asian American issues, where they discussed the SFFA v. Harvard litigation in the context of historicizing challenges to affirmative action and the relationship between affirmative action and Asian Americans. Organized with CISPS graduate researcher Vincent Wong, the panel challenged myths and misinformation about how race-conscious admissions processes at universities like Columbia and Harvard are conducted. Both audiences saw a diverse mix of Columbia students, from the law school to Barnard, faculty and the general public. These events showcased CISPS’ unique capacity to curate and stoke pointed debate around topical issues with a cutting-edge intersectional lens.

Public Education Initiatives

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AAPF Executive Director Kimberlé Crenshaw has been named the recipient of a wide array of awards and honors that reflect her commitment to legal scholarship, intersectional advocacy and women’s rights.

  • Gittler Prize - Brandeis University (October 2017)

  • Edith I. Spivack Award - New York County Lawyers Association (November 2017)

  • Honorary Doctorate of Laws - Smith College (May 2018)

  • Celebrating Women Award - New York Women’s Foundation (May 2018)

  • Honoree - A Call to Men (November 2018)

  • Elected Fellow - American Academy of Political and Social Science (December 2018)


Looking Forward to 2019

There’s a lot to look forward to at AAPF as we turn the page to 2019. The coming year will bring the publication of Executive Director Kimberlé Crenshaw’s new book, On Intersectionality.  We’ll also be reprising Her Dream Deferred for its 5th Anniversary in Los Angeles from March 25th-30th, 2019. For this and much, much more -- stay tuned!


Thank you for fighting with us!

The AAPF Team

Our Fights are Connected; Our Resistance Must Be Intersectional

Our Fights are Connected;
Our Resistance Must Be Intersectional


We at AAPF are anguished as we know are many of you at the successive acts of inhumanity that have rocked the country over the past two weeks. Between last Wednesday’s racially motivated murders of Maurice Stallard and Vickie Jones at a Kroger grocery store in Kentucky, and Saturday’s mass shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue, racist terror has claimed 13 lives.  If the explosives that MAGA fanatic Cesar Sayoc allegedly mailed to prominent political and media figures (and frequent Trump targets) had not been intercepted, that already sobering figure might be even higher. And this political mobilization of hate is likely the tip of the iceberg.

The violence of last week and its white supremacist markings confirm fears that many of us have expressed repeatedly about how Donald Trump’s presidency has unleashed and emboldened the forces of hate. The drumbeat leading to this awful moment has been a steady one, including Trump’s insistence on an equivalency between violent white nationalists in Charlottesville, VA and those who peacefully protested against them, his denigration of African nations as "shithole countries," his reference to Mexican immigrants as "criminals and rapists," and his effort to ban those from Muslim-dominant countries from entering the US. It includes his suggestion that a Black protester at one of his rallies "should have been roughed up," his coded references to a "corrupt, globalist ruling class," and the daily digital demagoguery that spreads fear and outright lies to his most fervent supporters. It includes his decision to send troops to the border to threaten Central Americans lawfully seeking asylum, demonstrating an alarming willingness to use military force to insulate his political power.   

As we watch these shocking developments, it becomes abundantly clear that politics as usual will not provide protection against the rapid unraveling of even the most symbolic expressions of core democratic principles. Those who rest their faith in the separation of powers overlook the negligence of the Senate and potentially the Courts in drawing any meaningful lines to constrain this president. In the face of all of this, calling for President Trump to offer solace to the nation in our time of grief is about as reasonable as asking the fox to eulogize the missing chickens when he’s visibly belching feathers.

So there's no question that we have to get out and vote to create the possibility for significant checks on the anti-democratic policies and rhetoric that are unfolding everywhere.  Absolutely everybody must call many bodies to go to the polls. We must outvote the forces of suppression in droves if we are to overcome efforts to suppress the power of our communities.

But we must do much, much more than vote.  We have to think and act differently about the traumas we are all facing.

The Trump playbook relies upon a powerful mobilization of racism, anti-semitism, xenophobia, transphobia, sexism and homophobia. They are not singular forces, but related and reinforcing. The Pittsburgh shooter downloaded this poisonous discourse, blaming Jews for traitorous support of dehumanized "others" -- racially denigrated interlopers who pose a threat to whiteness -- because of the Tree of Life's work helping refugees.  He and Sayoc were vehement believers in the white nationalist mythology about wealthy Jews like George Soros as the "puppetmasters" behind Black activism, a worldview that erases African American agency and presents Jews as disloyal and disruptive to social order. Both of course echo the familiar, wild-eyed venom of self-declared white supremacist Dylann Roof, who murdered 9 African Americans in their place of worship, Mother Emanuel church in Charleston, SC, because, he said, Black people are raping "our women and taking over our country."  This before coldly gunning down Susie Jackson, who at 87 was the senior person among those lost. Like 97-year-old Tree of Life worshipper Rose Mallinger, Jackson survived the more overt racism and antisemitism of the 20th century only to become a casualty of its modern-day reverberations.

To counter this multi-fronted white supremacist project, we must forge solidarity at every juncture that Trumpism has exploited, recognizing, in particular, the unique ways that anti-black racism, xenophobia and anti-semitism have historically worked together in the United States.  We need an intersectional consciousness to build coalitions that can withstand and contain the rise of white nationalism and its entire family of evils.

Mourners this week gathered to honor the lives of Vickie Lee Jones, 67, and Maurice E. Stallard, 69.

Mourners this week gathered to honor the lives of Vickie Lee Jones, 67, and Maurice E. Stallard, 69.

Because although these forms of discrimination are intrinsically linked, our struggles against them are all too often disparate and siloed. While Saturday’s act of anti-semitic terror is consistent with a broader history of Jewish persecution, it’s also in keeping with a statistical increase in all hate crimes.  Hate crimes trended upward in 2014, 2012, 2010, and 2008. Election years--including midterms--often precipitate a spike. After a steep uptick near the 2016 election, hate crimes continued to rise by 12% in 38 of the nation’s largest cities in 2017. African Americans, Jews, Latinx, and LGBT people were among the most frequently targeted groups. The self-deputization of scores of white people to surveill and police Black people and immigrants in public and private spaces across the country is a symptom of the same malady.  

The events of last week are not, then, the miner’s canary, an indication of potential trouble, but rather the confirmation that our society’s toxicity, unnamed and unchecked, will metastasize to every part of the body politic.  The assassination of 11 Jews in worship, days after the murder of two Black people for being Black, tragically recalls the 2015 murder of 9 African American church parishioners in Charleston, SC, and reminds us that the threat of racist terrorism is a malignancy that cannot be arrested by hope, song, or forgiveness alone.  

In the spirit of acknowledging our linked fates, we want to remember the fallen 13 of last week, and the 9 who lost their lives in worship before them. The proper memorialization of their lost lives demands that we say all of their names, and carry out a resistance robust and inclusive enough to support all of the communities mourning their loss.

The Fallen 13 The Charleston 9

Maurice Stallard Cynthia Marie Graham Hurd

Vickie Jones Susie Jackson

Irving Younger Ethel Lee Lance

Melvin Wax Depayne Middleton-Doctor

Rose Mallinger Clementa C. Pinckney

Bernice Simon Tywanza Sanders

Sylvan Simon Daniel Simmons

Jerry Rabinowitz Sharonda Coleman-Singleton

Joyce Fienberg Myra Thompson

Richard Gottfried

Daniel Stein

Cecil Rosenthal

David Rosenthal

Keep the Fire for Justice Burning

Keep The Fire For Justice Burning


Dear Friends,

It is with a heavy heart that I write to you today.  Twenty-seven years ago, my co-founder, Luke Harris, and I sat on the Supreme Court steps as Clarence Thomas was confirmed to replace the Civil Rights giant Thurgood Marshall.  It was a very close vote that, like today’s confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh, went down to the wire. Yet the closeness of the vote would not match the magnitude of that fateful decision.  Despite the fact that Thomas had won the support of the majority of our fellow African Americans, we knew then that his 5th vote would alter Supreme Court doctrine on racial justice, and would shape the rest of our lives.  And it has.

Luke and I committed then and there to put everything we had into the fight against the anti-civil rights vision that Clarence Thomas represented. The African American Policy Forum (AAPF) grew directly out of that moment, and we are proud that through research, advocacy, and the arts, our organization continues to carry forward our social justice vision grounded in structural equity and intersectionality.

We are mindful that today’s confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh reignites the profound sadness, despair and outrage for many of us. In the face of the rising awareness of MeToo, and the political activation of so many survivors, we understand yet again the bitter disappointment that many of us have in those who we would expect to stand in solidarity with us who actually made this confirmation process possible.

Yet let us not lose sight of the reality that this confirmation can create a groundswell of activism that makes new things possible for those of us committed to social justice. As 1992’s election cycle revealed, the righteous outrage that so many of us felt after Anita Hill was so completely disregarded created a wave of protests that sent an unprecedented number of women into politics. Some have continued to carry the fight forward even now. We can turn this defeat into victory if we harness every bit of disappointment about this flawed process, the sham FBI investigation, the rush toward confirmation, and the disregard of legitimate concerns about Kavanaugh’s temperament and truthfulness into action. We must ride this disappointment to create new narratives, new representatives and new ways of connecting our past to our present. We must not only meet that bar of political mobilization that we saw in 1992, however, we must raise it by encouraging leadership from the margins that will shift the tide.

We rose from the depths of despair to create a sustainable presence in the social justice world, and we know that this moment will be similarly generative for allies across the country.   One thing is abundantly clear: across our issues and organizations, we must work together like never before in the coming days to repair our democracy, resist hate and fear, and send a message that antiracism, feminism and all related forms of discrimination are not casualties of mob rule.  

We at AAPF are recommitting ourselves to ensure that while we may have lost this battle, we will not lose this war.  Please stand with us.

In solidarity,
Kimberlé Crenshaw & the AAPF Team

The Ball Is In Our Court

The Time to Act is Now

The ball is in our Court - It's up to us to categorically reject the confirmation of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court

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Frankly, we're frightened. The anger, self-righteousness and disrespect that was displayed at the Senate Judiciary Committee is a clear signal that our democracy is endangered. The fact that it is even possible that Ford's searing testimony will be set aside by a rageful, dishonest, and disrespectful performance by Kavanaugh and his supporters is an alarming barometer of how insignificant a woman's pain and a man's misbehavior is in our Republic.  

The misdirection, condescension, and vitriol that we witnessed yesterday reflects a temperament grossly ill-suited to the highest court of the land.  Not only should such a performance be disqualifying in its own right, but his aggressive demeanor and dissemblance lends credence to many of the allegations against him.

This is a moment in our history that is enormously consequential.  Will our country draw the line against sanctioning the kind of bullying, sexism and outright misogyny that we have been seeing?  Will the angry, mob-like mentality that has been stoked in Trump rallies in stadiums across the United States be allowed to roam in the Halls of Congress and even in the chambers of the Supreme Court?  Will we stand by as this dangerous contemptuous sentiment makes its way into the law?

If you are as disturbed by what we saw yesterday as we are, now is the time to do everything possible to stop this madness, to say enough is enough.  Tell the Senators who can make a difference that we will not stand aside for one second while Dr. Christine Blasey Ford is infantilized and silenced, Senator Diane Feinstein is bludgeoned and burned, and every person who has suffered sexual abuse and any other form of illegitimate power is forced to witness what will happen to them if they dare to hold the powerful accountable for the harms they have caused.

Kavanaugh showed us he was spectacularly unqualified to be granted a lifetime position to further tarnish one of our most cherished traditions--our Supreme Court.  His despicable behavior should not be rewarded with the power to set the rules for all of us.

Call today. And do not be dissuaded by any claims that the nomination is in the bag.  It isn't until the last Senator votes.

Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine)
(202) 224-2523
Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska)
(202) 224-6665

And click here to sign your name to the petition in support of Dr. Ford

We have to learn the lesson: We've seen the bloody rope of lynching being appropriated to drown out the voice of a Black woman and a generation of devastating decisions followed. As Executive Director Kimberlé Crenshaw wrote in yesterday's New York Times, "The Hill-Thomas conflict has gone down in history as a colossal failure of intersectional organizing. It’s not too late, as the Kavanaugh nomination fight enters its next phase, to write a better history." 


Respect: A Tribute to Aretha Franklin

Respect: A Tribute to Aretha Franklin

Aretha’s “Respect” has been lifted up as an anthem for women, and later for Civil Rights, but specifically for us Black little girls who gleefully adapted her demand as our own, “Respect” has been a very personal anthem grounded in the intersection of race and gender. So when I was asked by Eve Ensler to write a vagina fact for a benefit performance of the “Vagina Monologues” at the Apollo, I went to Aretha as inspiration. This tribute to the centuries of Black women’s struggle for respect, for sexual autonomy, is a critical part of her legacy. Here, in her honor, is an excerpt.
— Kimberle Crenshaw
_Respect_ Delivered at V-Day at the Apollo by Kimberlé Crenshaw Black vaginas the hardest working vaginas in America, and still they get no respect. No vagina has done so much for this country and received so little..png

AAPF Mourns the Murder of Nia Wilson, Calls for Focused Efforts to Confront Violent Hate Crimes Against Black Women

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The African American Policy Forum grieves the loss of Nia Wilson and we send our prayers for the recovery of her sister, who was also stabbed during last weekend’s vicious attack.  Our hearts go out to the Wilson family, and also to the family of Meshon Cooper and those of unnamed others who have lost their lives to racists who feel entitled to take them.

John Cowell, a 27-year- old white male, has been arrested as the only suspect in Nia’s murder. Police have stated that they cannot conclude that the crime was racially motivated. Cowell’s family has issued a statement that he is mentally unfit.  Nia’s death, and those of other Black women who have lost their lives in the increasingly lethal environment in the United States, cry out for active efforts to confront, to count, and to prevent these crimes.  Her death is not an isolated incident. The AAPF calls for efforts to challenge the permission to hate that comes from the top, and the conspiracies of denial that prevented our government from publishing information that revealed the growing threat of domestic terrorism.  We amplify this call in the statement below.

Black Women and Hate Crimes

Nia Wilson’s life was savagely taken on Sunday evening at the MacArthur BART station in Oakland, California.   Both of these developments fit a pattern of assessment that may well underestimate the torrent of racial hate unleashed across the nation and the extent to which Black women are vulnerable to it.   The FBI recently released data indicating that hate crimes in the US continue to rise, yet the extent of the problem cannot fully be grasped given the multiple failures of authorities and society as a whole to confront the rising tide of white supremacy.  While the influence of President Trump’s coziness with white nationalists has occasionally marshalled concern, equally troubling is the official blind eye towards domestic terrorism and the almost reflexive denial about the real risks it entails. This denial obscures patterns of racial violence that render wide populations vulnerable to hate crimes, including women and girls.

Nia Wilson’s name joins those of other Black women who have lost their lives in circumstances that implicate hate crimes, but that have been characterized as something else.  In June 2016, Deborah Pearl, a mother of three, was shot to death by Matthew Ryan Desha following a car collision near Cleveland, Ohio.  Last June, Nabra Hassanen, a 17-year-old Black Muslim girl who had just graduated from high school, was abducted, raped, and brutally beaten to death by a motorist, Darwin Martinez Torres, after he had chased down a group of Muslim teenagers. That same month, David Andrew Desper fatally shot 18-year-old Bianca Roberson in the head while attempting to merge his vehicle into her driving lane. None of these killings were classified as hate crimes although the Pearl, Hassanen, and Roberson families respectively believe otherwise. Mental illness and road rage have been offered as a mutually exclusive explanation for these savage attacks.

Alarmingly, such incidents may be occurring far more frequently than the numbers suggest because of a mistaken assumption that mental illness, road rage, or some other factor visciates hate as a motivating factor in these settings. Police departments across the U.S. do not have clear policies on these matters and many officers lack sufficient training to properly categorize bias crimes when they occur.  Moreover, crimes against Black women may be especially underreported because anti-Black bias crimes have traditionally been framed as crimes against men. Present day reporting of hate-crimes ignore the unique experiences of women and girls of color, and more broadly, the ways in which hate crimes reflect other forms of bias -- for example, gender identity, religion, sexuality, immigrant status and disability.  In fact, the FBI maintains a well-known collection of data on hate crimes against various groups. But rarely does it acknowledge the intersectional dimensions of this type of violence. Accordingly, in 2015, it reported only 32 "multi-bias" incidents out of 5,850 total.

The horrific assaults against Wilson, Pearl, Hassanen, and Roberson remind us that gender has never spared Black women from racial terrorism.  Racial hatred knows no gendered boundaries. Eliza Woods and Mary Turner -- two of the more than 200 documented Black women who were lynched -- lost their lives to the same racist bloodlust that drained the life from Emmett Till.  This murderous expression of racial hatred extends to Black women in contemporary America. In the Charleston church attack, mass murderer Dylann Roof declared, “you raped our women and are taking over our country” before shooting the oldest victim there -- 87-year-old Susie Jackson -- 11 times.  For all the contemporary worshipping of white strongmen by the far right, racist masculinity has never had a problem expressing itself through the senseless murder of defenseless Black women and girls.


Politics and Racial Hate Crimes

African Americans remain the most targeted group for hate crimes, and according to the Department of Justice the overall rate increased by 16% in 2017.  The connection between these rates and politics is telling: a recent report revealed that hate crimes more than doubled the day after the 2016 Presidential election and spiked 92% in the following two weeks.  In the 34 days following the Trump election, there were 1,094 bias-related incidents around the US with 37 percent of the perpetrators either directly citing Trump, his campaign slogans, or his infamous remarks regarding sexual assault. Yet what is not so obvious is the role of politics in handcuffing the agencies that are responsible for monitoring hate groups and preventing hate crimes.

In 2009, a leaked Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Report, Right-Wing Resurgence: How a Domestic Terrorist Threat is Being Ignored warned of the resurgence of right-wing extremist activity.  A political backlash ensued.  Twenty conservative groups called for Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano's dismissal and in the wake of political pressure, work related to illuminating violent right-wing extremism was halted.  Daryl Johnson, who oversaw the report, saw his unit disbanded.  By 2010, there were no intelligence analysts at DHS working on domestic terrorism threats.

The federal government’s abdication of responsibility in this arena extends beyond the abandonment of DHS intelligence.  Life After Hate, a group whose founders included former  white supremacists who today work to stop hate crimes, saw its $400,000 federal grant rescinded by the Trump administration. The important work of pushing back against violent extremists and the prevention of the recruitment of at-risk youths took a backseat to the Trump Administration’s coddling of those who present a clear and present danger to the peace and well being of millions of people in America.  



As we hold the families of those who have lost loved ones to racist violence in our hearts, we must be keen to consider what kind of talk we must give to all of our daughters about the cruelty of a racist and misogynistic world?  What kind of eulogies must we give when our talks fail to protect?

It’s time to confront head on the reality that the racist demon that haunts the past has not been cabined there, and has been freed to roam the land once again, destroying lives of sons as well as daughters.  We can no longer use mental illness or road rage or other factors as a catch-all denial of hate.  We can no longer be swayed by partisan politics that prevent us from meaningfully countering the existential threat of far right extremism, nor overlook the very real forms of hate violence that reflect intersectional vulnerability.  Nothing should stand in the way of confronting the real face of terrorism here on our U.S. shores, and the fact that the lives of all of us hang in the balance.

Kimberelé Crenshaw Awarded Doctor of Laws from Smith College

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New York, New York -- May 23, 2018 -- The African American Policy Forum and the Center for Intersectionality and Social Policy Studies are pleased to announce that Kimberlé Crenshaw, leading authority on civil rights and Black feminist legal thought, was awarded with an honorary degree from Smith College with the Class of 2018 alongside fellow honorands Carol Christ, Rita Dove, Bob Pura, and Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy.

Smith College honorary degrees are awarded to “women who are exemplars of excellence in a wide range of fields, both academic and non-academic,” who “have had special impact on Smith College, on the education of women, [and] or on women’s lives.”

Smith President Kathleen McCartney spoke at length about the wide-ranging contributions and professional achievements Professor Crenshaw has accrued over the course of her decorated career:

Your influential writings and lectures on critical race theory have exposed the
chasms that racism has carved into American society—and especially into its legal
system. Through your pioneering work on intersectionality, you have shown that
the injustice of a complex world cannot be reduced to narrow efforts defined by
single qualifiers—black or female or LGBTQ or poor or indigenous. You have
shown that only by understanding the convergence of multiple forms of
disempowerment can we begin to address inequity—to, as you wrote in 1989,
"Recenter discrimination discourse at the intersection." You tell us that without
this revised perspective, "some of us, the most vulnerable, are going to fall
through the cracks." Through your scholarship and tenure as distinguished
professor of law at both UCLA and Columbia universities, you have opened our
eyes to inequalities that were unrecognized and unaddressed. For your work in
naming and untangling complex systems of oppression and privilege, Smith
College is proud to award you the degree of Doctor of Laws,
honoris causa.

Crenshaw directs Columbia’s Center for Intersectionality and Social Policy Studies, which she founded in 2011. She is also co-founder and executive director of the African American Policy Forum, a think tank that promotes efforts to dismantle structural inequality. The focus of Crenshaw’s research and advocacy in recent years has been encapsulated in two reports and corresponding political campaigns: Black Girls Matter: Pushed Out, Overpoliced and Underprotected examines the ways in which Black girls and other girls of color are impacted by the school-to-prison pipeline; and Say Her Name: Resisting Police Brutality Against Black Women, a report on the stories of Black women killed by the police.

Smith College’s honor is a reflection of Crenshaw’s tireless work to uplift and center the needs of those most marginalized within our society and amongst social justice movements. In recent months, Crenshaw was also honored with the prestigious Brandeis University Gittler Prize for her “outstanding and lasting scholarly contributions to racial, ethnic and/or religious relations.” In March 2018, Good Houskeeping named Crenshaw one of ten top women “Changing the World.” And earlier in May, the New York Women’s Foundation (NYWF) awarded Crenshaw the “Celebrating Women Award” for her significant achievements at their annual Celebrating Women Breakfast, which boasted over two thousand attendees.

“[Crenshaw] has witnessed our deepest pain,” said Rhanda Dormeus, mother of Korryn Gaines and advocate of the #SayHerName campaign, during the recent NYWF event. “She has become our rock, […] she keeps us going.”

"She is an extraordinary intellectual and a woman who puts her life on the line for others," said Eve Ensler, a playwright, performer, activist, and board member of the African American Policy Forum. "We honor and celebrate Kim for the depth, generosity and radical radiance of her attention.”

The honorary Doctor of Laws was bestowed during Smith’s 2018 Commencement Ceremony on Sunday, May 20, 2018 at 10:00am. Throughout the weekend, Crenshaw also sat on a panel featuring the 2018 Smith Honorads and attended celebratory events alongside Smith College students, faculty, trustees, and members of the Office of the President.

More information on Crenshaw’s honorary degree from Smith College can be found here:

Footage of the Smith 2018 Commencement Ceremony is available here:


The African American Policy Forum (AAPF) is a social justice think tank that brings new voices and broader frames to social justice practice in contemporary America. In partnership with the Center for Intersectionality and Social Policy Studies, AAPF promotes an intersectional approach to confronting discrimination in order to address the complex needs of marginalized communities. Through public education, youth development, research, trainings, and advocacy, AAPF has elevated the experiences of underrepresented constituencies to enable a more inclusive vision of social justice.

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New York, NY 10027



Kimberlé Crenshaw to be Honored by New York Women's Foundation at 2018 Celebrating Women Breakfast

New York, New York -- May 9, 2018 -- Columbia and UCLA Law School Professor Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw, a pioneer of critical race theory and leading authority on civil rights and Black feminist legal thought, will be honored by the New York Women’s Foundation at their annual Celebrating Women Breakfast on May 10th for her enduring contributions to social justice and equality.

Crenshaw will receive the ‘Celebrating Women Award given to “a woman whose significant achievements have influenced the lives of—and provided a role model for—women and girls.”

[The New York Women’s Foundation’s annual breakfast is the premiere fundraising event for women of consciousness with 2,400 attendees standing with women and girls in New York City. The Breakfast is about honoring the strength and courage of our grantee partners, who find groundbreaking solutions to seemingly intractable problems. The Breakfast is about honoring the visionary women who serve as role models, leaders and philanthropists. [Source: NYWF]

Twenty-nine years ago, Crenshaw coined the term intersectionality to describe the exclusion of Black women from feminist theory and policy discourse directed against racism. The particular manner in which Black women are subordinated reflects a compounded interaction of both race and gender that is greater than the sum of both, she argued in an article, “Demarginalizing the Intersection of Race and Sex: A Black Feminist Critique of Antidiscrimination Doctrine, Feminist Theory and Antiracist Politics,” published in the University of Chicago Law Forum. In 2015, Crenshaw launched the Say Her Name campaign, which calls attention to police violence against Black women, and brings together family members of Black women killed by police to heal and advocate for accountability for their lost loved ones.

Crenshaw directs Columbia’s Center for Intersectionality and Social Policy Studies, which she founded in 2011. She is also co-founder and executive director of The African American Policy Forum, a think tank that promotes efforts to dismantle structural inequality.

“Kimberlé Crenshaw organically combines sophisticated theoretical analysis, brilliant cultural and political commentary, on-the-ground experiential knowledge, and complex legal argumentation to describe, contest, and fashion remedies for some of the most pressing social problems of our time,” said Devon Carbado, Professor of Law at UCLA and Board Member of the African American Policy Forum.

This honor is a reflection of Crenshaw’s tireless work to center the needs of those most marginalized within our society. In 2017, Crenshaw received the prestigious Joseph B. and Toby Gittler Prize from Brandeis University for enduring scholarly contributions to racial relations. In 2016, Crenshaw was honored with the Outstanding Scholar Award from the American Bar Foundation and the Exceptional Merit in Media Award (EMMA) for her New York Times op-ed, “The Girls Obama Forgot.” She also received an honorary doctorate degree from City University of New York's John Jay College of Criminal Justice. In 2015, Crenshaw was featured in the Ebony Power 100, a list honoring the contemporary heroes of the Black community, and was #1 on Ms. Magazine’s list of Feminist Heroes of 2015.

The Celebrating Women Breakfast will take place on Thursday, May 10, 2018 from 7:30 am - 9:00 am at the Marriott Marquis, 1535 Broadway, New York, NY 10036. Other honorees include Tarana Burke, Founder and Leader of the #MeToo Movement, and Lorie A. Slutsky, President of The New York Community Trust. More information on the Celebrating Women Breakfast can be found here.