The Policy Forum is a think tank and information clearinghouse designed both to highlight the centrality of gender in the political debates within the Black community and to illuminate the patterns of institutional discrimination that continue to persist in contemporary American society. It was founded in 1996 by Kimberle Williams Crenshaw, Professor of Law at Columbia and UCLA Law Schools, and Luke Charles Harris, Chairman of the Department of Political Science at Vassar College and a professor of American Politics and Constitutional Law. The Policy Forum engages a range of issues through organizing and hosting various events and projects including salons, conferences, workshops, retreats, book parties, media training and other activities, and by producing reports, articles and other resources to support the work of human rights activities in the media and in other arenas. Eschewing the single-issue framework utilized by most feminist and race-based organizations, the Policy Forum seeks to play an important role in re-framing public policy debates to promote an understanding of the various ways in which factors different forms of discrimination intersect to distort and obscure the rights and interests of the most marginalized members of political communities.
The Policy Forum’s think-tank activities specialize in a multi-layered analysis and multi-dimensional programming. We draw specific work objectives from a variety of inputs (media research, salons, conferences, retreats, and other activities). We integrate these inputs with existing research (including research originally produced by Forum members) to identify key points that are either ignored or misunderstood in public policy debates. We produce outputs in the form of salons, workshops, conferences, retreats, articles, and other publications. And, we play a variety of roles in the production of television, radio, and documentary film programs. Our goal is to facilitate the development of effective counter-narratives to the “conventional wisdom” of the media so as to capture the values of inclusion, equity, and structural justice in public policy debates. Our research has been brought to bear in the activities we produce, the speakers and participants we work with, the background materials we develop, and the follow-up activities we facilitate. Our work in areas such as affirmative action and criminal justice illustrates how we combine a range of activities to pursue our goals.
The Policy Forum is dedicated to advancing and expanding racial justice, gender equality and the indivisibility of all human rights: economic, social, cultural, political, and civil. Its purpose is to build and promote a politics of equality across difference that shapes and engages political thought worldwide. We seek to generate concrete approaches to eliminate systemic and multidimensional forms of discrimination and oppression, and to broaden the scope of human rights by expanding the range of ideas at the center of public policy debates.
Overview of Current Programs:
Currently, the Policy Forum is focusing its efforts in three distinct areas: Affirmative Action, Intersectionality, and Structural Racism. Many of the projects that we are working on in these areas involve challenging the accepted “color-blindness” theory and shedding light on issues that, having originated with historical trends of racial bias and discrimination, continue to pose a threat to individuals in modern society. By producing and coordinating materials such as youth workshops, research articles and media outlets, the Policy Forum is hoping to achieve its goals in these three areas and give a voice to the counter-narratives that are so often ignored in the media today. For more detailed information on each of these projects, please browse the project pages.