AAPF Celebrates a Victory for Race-Conscious Admissions Policies

A Victory for Race-Conscious Admissions

On Tuesday, a federal judge ruled that Harvard’s race-conscious admissions policy does not intentionally discriminate against Asian Americans. The advocacy group Students for Fair Admissions (SFFA) brought the lawsuit against the university hoping to overturn Supreme Court precedent, Fisher v. Texas, which allowed the consideration of race in college admissions but prohibited racial quotas. The group alleged that Harvard had used an unconstitutional admissions process that rejected qualified Asian American students while admitting other students of inferior merit. 

In her 130-page decision, Federal District Court Judge Allison D. Burroughs cleared the university of each of SFFA’s four primary charges: that Harvard deliberately discriminated against Asian Americans, that it racially balanced its classes, that race was a central criterion in Harvard’s admissions policies, and that Harvard considered race without first pursuing diversity via race-neutral means. This result represents a tremendous victory in the fight to preserve race-conscious admissions policies in higher education. But it’s not likely to be the final word. The decision will be appealed, and many expect the case to reach the Supreme Court.

Students For Fair Admissions was convened by long-time conservative activist Ed Blum, who has made it his life’s mission to dismantle race-conscious policies.  He was also the destructive force behind Shelby County v. Holder, the case that resulted in the gutting of critical protections in the Voting Rights Act. As a consequence, the nation has suffered the sharpest rise in instances of voter suppression since the Jim Crow era. This is Blum’s third case challenging race-conscious measures in higher education, with his previous attempts targeting admission policies at the University of Texas-Austin in 2012 and the University of North Carolina, which is currently ongoing. 

SFFA’s attack on Harvard’s admissions process was based on self-selected pools of individuals and purposefully choosing not to look at their program as a whole. Strangely enough, the pools not selected are those which have disproportionately benefited white applicants the most. That is the cross section of athletes, legacies, those on the Dean’s interest list, and children of faculty and staff.  As Judge Burroughs pointed out, these students makeup 30% of Harvard's admitted class and “are disproportionately white.” SFFA’s decision not to impugn this dimension of Harvard’s policies is clear evidence that the group’s true motive is not protecting the interests of the Asian American students it claims to represent. Instead, this tack is consistent with Blum’s long-standing project of fighting against what AAPF Cofounder Luke Charles Harris calls the diminished over-representation of white students in institutions of higher education. 

As firm believers that affirmative action policies like those at Harvard remain urgently necessary, we at the African American Policy Forum applaud the court’s decision. This outcome fortifies our abiding conviction that one of the only ways to redress structural issues of discrimination and injury is to protect the race-conscious measures designed to take these systemic challenges into account. Now, more than ever, the moment beckons to challenge the gatekeepers of the baseline traditions and practices of American institutions.  From the hiring criteria of our workplaces to the entry criteria of our institutions of higher education, these conventions must be interrogated. The tide may well be turning against elite preferences in higher education. And this case could well ride that wave to ultimately build a movement that calls for serious interrogation of procedures that continue to impede a fair assessment of the capabilities and promise of people of color, or so we hope.

The AAPF remains committed to protecting and promoting race-conscious policies in higher education, the workplace, and the public sector. We will continue to do everything within our capacity to help facilitate and contribute to all effective multipronged collaborative efforts with organizations to protect affirmative action and ask for your support to help us keep this commitment.

Press Release: Columbia and UCLA Law School Professor Kimberlé Crenshaw Honored With Honorary Degree From York University

Media Contact:
G’Ra Asim
Writing Director, African American Policy Forum/Center for Intersectionality and Social Policy Studies
African American Policy Forum/Center for Intersectionality and Social Policy Studies

Photo Credit: York University

Photo Credit: York University

TORONTO, CANADA -- June 21, 2019 

The African American Policy Forum (AAPF) and the Center for Intersectionality and Social Policy Studies (CISPS) are pleased to announce that Kimberlé Crenshaw was awarded an honorary doctorate from York University with the Class of 2019 alongside fellow honorands Paul Alofs, Glendon Campus, Anne C. Fools, Jennifer Doudna, Paul Gross, Cheryl McEwen, Marangu Njogu, Marcie Ponte, and Lynn Posluns. The ten honorary degree recipients were recognized as outstanding contributors in community building, social justice, health research and philanthropy.

York University honorary degrees are awarded to those who have achieved eminence in their field of activity, provided extraordinary service to humankind, Canada, Ontario, York University or a particular community, and/or made public contributions to society worthy of emulation. “[The 2019 honorary degree recipients] are leading the way on social justice and human rights issues" said Rhonda L. Lenton, president and vice-chancellor of York University. "[T]heir achievements serve as an inspiration for York’s newest graduates and for all of us.”

Osgoode Hall Law School Interim Dean Mary Condon made the following announcement to the York community: 

I am delighted to announce that the recipient of this year’s honorary doctorate to be awarded at the June convocation ceremony is Professor Kimberlé Crenshaw.  Professor Crenshaw is Professor of Law at UCLA Law and Columbia Law School and a leading scholar and thought leader in the areas of civil rights, black feminist legal theory, and race, racism and the law. Her work has been foundational in two fields of study that have come to be known by terms that she coined: Critical Race Theory and Intersectionality.

Crenshaw directs Columbia Law’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.  York University’s honor is a reflection of Crenshaw’s life long work to uplift and center the needs of those most marginalized within our society and amongst social justice movements.

Crenshaw cultivates public literacy on forms of social difference and their relationship to the law by way of her column in The New Republic “The Intersectionist”, hosting the AAPF’s podcast Intersectionality Matters with Kimberlé Crenshaw and her forthcoming book On Intersectionality: Essential Writings. This winter also saw the release of Seeing Race Again: Countering Colorblindness Across the Disciplines, a volume Crenshaw co-edited challenging the adoption of racial colorblindness as a default position. 

Reflecting on her own graduation from law school, Crenshaw implored the Osgoode Hall Law Class of 2019 to challenge received wisdom, and to embrace skepticism as an intellectually generative stance:

Sitting there with my cap and gown, long before Critical Race Theory, the school of thought with which I would be an early adherent would fully emerge out of that Alternative Course, and long before a further turn in that intellectual ecosystem where intersectionality would find its way into the pages of a law review, I can only remember how driven I was by the many unresolved questions that my time in law school had set for me -- questions not only about how the law can be managed and mobilized to enhance social justice, but also how its role in facilitating and insulating myriad injustices could be reconciled with all the faith that so many disaffected communities had put into it.  Why did so many of us accept its limits simply because someone said “the law said so.” The law could say different things at any moment, and frequently did. So why should any of us settled for the “because I said so” claims?

Crenshaw’s convocation remarks were met with a standing ovation and generous applause by fellow graduates, York University faculty, and guests alike last week. The honorary Doctor of Laws was bestowed during York’s convocation ceremony at the Aviva Centre in Toronto on Friday, June 21, 2019 at 3:30pm. 


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. 

The African American Policy Forum
Columbia Law School
435 West 116th Street
New York, NY 10027

AAPF Takes Europe, Intersectionality in the Media and new podcast episode!

AAPF Takes Europe, Intersectionality in the Media and new podcast episode!

Executive Director Kimberlé Crenshaw was the subject of an expansive profile in Vox this week on the origins of intersectionality and its growing popularity, the concomitant rightwing backlash to the concept and Professor Crenshaw's analysis of this backlash. The profile reframes intersectionality in its Black feminist and Critical Race Theory legacy and away from the cultural wars it has seemingly been embroiled in.

Read the profile here.

In addition, these past few weeks have been a whirlwind period of activities for AAPF as we traveled to Edinburgh and then London, executing a series of informative, energizing and well-attended events celebrating 30 Years of Intersectionality. Our first stop was in Scotland where Kimberlé Crenshaw delivered the PIR Distinguished Scholar Series Annual Lecture at the University of Edinburgh. The lecture, entitled "30 Years of Theorizing Justice: Intersectionality, Critical Race Theory and Contemporary Challenges" was given to an enthusiastic crowd (pictured in the selfie below). Her address was closed with the powerful clarion call words of the late Vicky Coles-Mcadory, Aunty-momma of India Beaty, a Black women killed by the police in 2015.

"My biggest fear would be not to march, my fear would be realizing I didn’t put my all into something that’s right, something that we was born into a right of having. How could I not? How could I not?”

We then made our way down to London for Mythbusting Intersectionality UK a provocative panel discussion held at the University of Westminster where the esteemed panel combatted common myths about intersectionality and spoke of their own everyday intersectionality. This was followed by the culmination of Crenshaw's tenure as the Centennial Professor at the LSE Gender Institute with a conference celebrating Intersectionality at 30, where she gave the closing address. The final event was held at the Shaw Library at the LSE Law Department where Kimberlé Crenshaw was in conversation with Luke Harris and George Lipsitz about their new book, Seeing Race Again: Countering Colorblindness across the Disciplines.

As Phyll Opoku-Gyimah said at Mythbusting Intersectionality UK, which was emblematic of the generative connections we made during our time in the UK, " I have really started to present intersectionality as not only healing, but also the strength and resilience that we gather from it. And so it's all about reinventing and re-freeing ourselves. And creating spaces where this is possible."

Emilia Roig, Gail Lewis, Daniel HoSang, Kimberlé Crenshaw, Barbara Tomlinson, Barby Asante, Phyll Opoku-Gyimah and Sumi Cho at  Mythbusting Intersectionality UK  held last week at the University of Westminster.

Emilia Roig, Gail Lewis, Daniel HoSang, Kimberlé Crenshaw, Barbara Tomlinson, Barby Asante, Phyll Opoku-Gyimah and Sumi Cho at Mythbusting Intersectionality UK held last week at the University of Westminster.

As part of this programming, Kimberlé Crenshaw was part of a podcast episode with BBC Women's Hour where she and Executive Director of UK Black Pride Phyll Opoku-Gyimah discussed the urgency of intersectionality as it pertains to understanding the ways in which race, gender, heterosexism interact to create particular injuries. Listen to that episode here from the 34:10 mark:

Kimberlé Crenshaw has a new column in The New Republic called the 'Intersectionist' where she will be writing on race, gender and politics from an intersectional perspective. Her first essay is on how racial violence destroyed the first Reconstruction and how the rise in racial violence now threatens what is left of the Civil Rights Movement, the Second Reconstruction. Read more here:

Learn More About AAPF And Support Our Activities Here

For social media highlights, be sure to visit our Twitter Moment here

Start your week off right with this enlightening new edition of Intersectionality Matters with Kimberlé Crenshaw!, The Anatomy of an Apology: How Himpathy and Hubris Undermine Accountability.

In this episode of Intersectionality Matters, host Kimberlé Crenshaw (@sandylocks) talks to Tony award-winning playwright and activist Eve Ensler about her groundbreaking new book The Apology and how the withholding that is the touchstone of the inviolable code of silence among men can be broken.  Ensler discusses the journey she traveled to conjure the apology she needed from her long-dead father for sexual and physical abuse. 

We also hear from philosopher Kate Manne (@kate_manne) on himpathy, the term she coined to describe the disproportionate and inappropriate sympathy powerful men often receive in cases of sexual assault and other forms of gendered violence.  Himpathy, she explains, may help us understand how some women who stood by Anita Hill are now embracing Joe Biden’s candidacy despite his failure to fully come to terms with his role in in her heinous treatment during Clarence Thomas’s senate confirmation hearings in 1991.  

If he hopes to resolve lingering questions about his leadership, Biden will need to show fulsome and substantive accountability for the part he played in facilitating a process that portrays women--African-American women--as conniving bottom-feeders. As Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee in 1991, he authorized conditions that made the humiliation and pathologization of Hill possible. Some of these failures include his refusal to call the multiple existing witnesses to corroborate Hill’s testimony, the decision to offer Justice Thomas the ability to testify both before and after Hill, his own aggressive and accusatory line of questioning of Hill and his public insistence that Justice Thomas’s character was beyond reproach.

Our host reflects on the inadequacy of Biden’s apology to Hill, and why Biden owes it to African American women to actually articulate why this happened, to pinpoint the cultural and institutional conditions that made it possible, and to provide an account of how he could have been a better leader and why we should trust that he can serve as a more effective leader now.

Tune in for a thought-provoking exploration of what it could mean for perpetrators and bystanders to genuinely confront and atone for violence they’ve either committed or enabled. 

We invite you to subscribe to Intersectionality Matters here!

Please share the new episode with the hashtags:

You can also join our patreon site for exclusive podcast content. As always, we relish feedback from you, our cherished supporters and treasured allies in the fight for intersectional justice. Please reach out with your questions or comments about the podcast via email or direct message on the podcast’s official Twitter and Instagram.

Thank you for your support!

In Solidarity,

The AAPF Team

Mythbusting Intersectionality: UK Livestream here from 1:30 PM EST/10:30 AM PST

Mythbusting Intersectionality:
UK Livestream here from 1:30 PM EST/10:30 AM PST

Join AAPF in London for an interdisciplinary panel

Mythbusting Intersectionality
Date and Time: 18:30, 28 May 2019
Location: Hogg Lecture Theatre, University of Westminster, 35 Marylebone Road, London, NW1 5LS

Dear AAPF Family,

Mythbusting Intersectionality Panel Event

Executive Director, Kimberlé Crenshaw, is in London this week for the culmination of her tenure as the Centennial Professor at the LSE Gender Institute with a conference celebrating Intersectionality at 30, on Wednesday, May 29. Today, May 28, AAPF will be presenting the follow up to our successful Mythusting Intersectionality event held in January at Columbia Law School in New York. This time for a British audience, Mythbusting Intersectionality UK is a provocative, interactive users’ guide to intersectionality.  Led by Professor Crenshaw, leading thinkers in activism, academia and the arts will dispel common myths and lift up the various ways that they mobilize intersectionality to name, trace and organize against discrimination and inequality in the U.K. and beyond. The evening is an opportunity for panelists and audience members from different backgrounds to reflect on what is everyday intersectionality? 

Presented by AAPF and the Center for Intersectionality and Social Policy Studies at Columbia Law School (CISPS) and co-sponsored by the Critical Pedagogies Group(Westminster/Birkbeck) and The Centre for Research on Race and Law (Birkbeck), the roundtable will explore the mystifying misconceptions and empowering insights that seasoned practitioners of intersectionality encounter and engage everyday. The panelists for today's dynamic event are as follows:

Kimberlé Crenshaw is a Professor of Law at Columbia and UCLA. She is a leading authority in the area of Civil Rights, Black feminist legal theory, and race, racism and the law. She is the co-founder/executive director of the African American Policy Forum and is also the host of the new podcast, Intersectionality Matters.

Barby Asante is an artist curator and researcher in CREAM at the University of Westminster.  Her work is concerned with the politics of place and the histories and legacies of colonialism as they affect our present.  

Sumi Cho is a Professor of Law at DePaul University. She employs a critical race feminist approach to her work on affirmative action, sexual harassment, legal history, and civil rights. She was the principal investigator for a Civil Liberties Public Education Fund grant on the first coordinated legal research on Japanese American internment, redress, and reparations.

Daniel HoSang is an Associate Professor of American Studies and Ethnicity, Race, and Migration at Yale University. HoSang’s research and teaching explore the contradictory labor of race within U.S. political culture across a wide-range of sites, including electoral politics, social movements, and cultural production.

Gail Lewis is a sociologist at Birkbeck who specialises in psychosocial studies of race and gender. She was a long standing member of Brixton Black Women's Group and a co-founder of the Organisation for Women of African and Asian Descent (OWAAD).

Phyll Opoku-Gyimah is a co-founder, trustee and executive director of UK Black Pride. She sits on the Trades Union Congress (TUC) race relations committee and is currently trustee of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights charity, Stonewall.

Emilia Roig is the Founder and Executive Director of the Center for Intersectional Justice (CIJ), a Berlin-based organization promoting an intersectional approach to anti-discrimination and equality policies in Europe. She has also taught graduate and post-graduate courses on Intersectionality Theory, Postcolonial Studies, Critical Race Theory and International and European Law.

Barbara Tomlinson is a Professor of Feminist Studies at UC Santa Barbara. Her research areas include rhetoric and feminist argumentation, feminist theory and analysis, culture and affect, and critical race theory.

Also join us for Countering Colourblindness: Intersectionality and Post-Racialism later this week in London!

In addition, and as a part of our programming in London, we are excited to announce Countering Colourblindness: Intersectionality and Post-Racialism a timely panel discussion which will argue for the public to see race again and confront an unpopular but unavoidable truth: racial stigma and discrimination require race-conscious solutions. Intersectionality emerged from the Critical Race Theory tradition and for those interested in further exploring the necessary relationship between both of these practices, this event will expose the robust connection between them as tools to understanding and challenging social power and hierarchy.

For those in London, seating is limited, so RSVP soon for a chance to join this timely and illuminating conversation about the ways in which Critical Race Theory and intersectionality act as necessary bulwarks against the enigmas that are colourblindness, race neutrality and post-racialism.

Countering Colourblindness: Intersectionality and Post-Racialism
Date and Time: 6:00pm, 30 May 2019
Shaw Library, LSE Old Building, Houghton Street, London, WC2A 2AE
RSVP: link

Episode 3 of Intersectionality Matters with Kimberlé Crenshaw: Black Women & #MeToo: From Hip Hop to Hollywood

After hip hop icon Dr. Dre brutally assaulted trailblazing emcee and television personality Dee Barnes in 1991, his career continued to skyrocket while she was effectively blacklisted from the entertainment industry -- despite his own admission of wrongdoing. Nearly three decades later, Dre, who has allegedly assaulted several other women in addition to Dee, continues to enjoy a celebrated career in which his heinous misdeeds have become mere footnotes. The combination of racism and patriarchy is the condition of possibility that allows Beats by Dre to be well-known commodities while beatings by Dre remain largely overlooked.

As part of their fifth annual event series, Her Dream Deferred: A Week on the Status of Black Women, the African American Policy Forum, in partnership with the Hammer Museum, convened a panel called “Black Women and #MeToo”. Along with Dee, the panel included such leading lights as actor and Times Up WOC activist Rashida Jones, supermodel and Bill Cosby accuser Beverly Johnson, cultural critic Jamilah Lemieux, historian Stephanie E. Jones-Rogers and #MuteRKelly co-founder Kenyette Tisha Barnes. The panel was moderated by AAPF Executive Director and Intersectionality Matters host Kimberlé Crenshaw.


The panel uplifted the unsung genealogy of the Me Too movement by acknowledging forerunners like Tarana Burke, who coined the hashtag #MeToo to raise awareness around the question of Black women’s vulnerability to sexual violence, and Anita Hill, who told the world her story about what a Supreme Court nominee had done to her as a young lawyer. Black feminists like bell hooks and Alice Walker were recognized also for laying bare the realities of gender-based violence that impacts Black women.

Tune into this profound and pathbreaking episode of Intersectionality Mattersfor a thorough post-mortem on the powerful insights shared on the panel, as well as a look into what the movement’s path forward might look like.

More on #HerDreamDeferred: aapf.org/her-dream-deferred-initiative
Listen to all podcast episodes: 
Support us on Patreon: 
Listen and subscribe: bit.ly/intersectionalitymatters

(L to R) Dee Barnes, Rashida Jones, Kimberlé Crenshaw, Jamilah Lemieux, Stephanie Jones-Rogers, Kenyette Barnes, Beverly Johnson at the "Black Women and the #MeToo Movement" panel at the Hammer Museum, 3/26/19

(L to R) Dee Barnes, Rashida Jones, Kimberlé Crenshaw, Jamilah Lemieux, Stephanie Jones-Rogers, Kenyette Barnes, Beverly Johnson at the "Black Women and the #MeToo Movement" panel at the Hammer Museum, 3/26/19

Join AAPF for #DenimDay

The African American Policy Forum invites you to stand alongside us in solidarity with survivors of sexual violence tomorrow, April 24, by wearing denim in protest against erroneous and destructive attitudes about sexual harassment, assault and rape.  These attitudes have the effect of blaming victims of sexual assault for what they were wearing, what they may or may not have imbibed, or their purported body language, as opposed to combating the culture that enables perpetrators to commit these acts of violence.  For over 20 years, Peace Over Violence has run its Denim Day campaign on a Wednesday in April in honor of Sexual Assault Awareness Month.  Tweet at us with pictures of you and your community wearing jeans as a visible means of dissent against the misconceptions that surround sexual violence.

The consequences of these misconceptions are particularly acute for Black women and girls. Here are four startling statistics that underscore the urgency of calling attention to this critically important movement:

  • For every Black woman that reports her rape, at least 15 Black women do not report.

  • Approximately 60% of Black girls experience sexual abuse by age 18.

  • According to a 2014 study, about 22% of Black women reported being raped and 41% experienced other forms of sexual violence.

  • 16.5% of Black women in a high school sample and 36% in a college sample reported experiencing rape.

Tomorrow, let your fashion statement double as a social statement, and share your activism with AAPF on social media. Learn more about #DenimDay and its origins here.

Announcing #HerDreamDeferred 2019!

Join Us For the 5th Annual
Her Dream Deferred 2019!

A Week on the Status of Black Women

Visit us at aapf.org to learn more!


We are thrilled to announce the schedule for the fifth annual 
Her Dream Deferred: A Week on the Status of Black Women 
taking place in Los Angeles & virtually from March 24-29, 2019

Since 2015, AAPF and other leading racial & gender justice
organizations have joined together to honor Women's History
Month and the United Nation’s International Decade for People
of African Descent with a weeklong series of March events focused
on elevating the crisis facing Black womenand other women
of color domestically and across the globe. 

Follow us all week long with:
#HerDreamDeferred and #SayHerName

Click Here For More Information And To Register

#HerDreamDeferred 2019 Events:

Black Feminist Homegoing: What Aretha Means to Me
Followed by screening of "Amazing Grace" & Talk Back
(Discussions, Performance, Film Screening)

Sunday, March 24, 3PM | UCLA
Sponsored by UCLA African American Studies

Aretha's Amazing Grace: From Watts to Detroit
(Panels, Reception)
Monday, March 25, 10AM-5PM | UCLA
Sponsored by UCLA African American Studies
Click here to RSVP

Black Women and the #MeToo Movement (Panel)
Tuesday, March 26, 7:30PM | Hammer Museum*
Co-sponsored by Hammer Museum
Click here to learn more about ticketing

Harriet's Political Will: Black Women's Electoral Strength
in an Era of Fractured Politics (Panel, Performance)

Wednesday, March 27, 7:30PM | Hammer Museum*
Co-sponsored by Hammer Museum
Click here to learn more about ticketing

Say Her Name: The Life and Death of Sandra Bland
 (Film Screening)

Thursday, March 28, 5PM | Hammer Museum*
Co-sponsored by Hammer Museum
Click here to learn more about ticketing

#SayHerName: The Lives that Should've Been (Original Play)
Thursday, March 28, 7:30PM | Hammer Museum*
Co-sponsored by Hammer Museum
Click here to learn more about ticketing

Work Supports to Reduce Maternal Mortality (Webinar)
Friday, March 29, 12PM PST | Virtual
In partnership with the Institute for Women's Policy Research

*Please note that admission to all Hammer Museum events
are first come first served.

Click Here To Sign Up And Volunteer With Us!