New Philosophy

Feminist Philosophy

How did race become important in feminist philosophy?

The complexity of feminist issues of race were underscored by University of California at Los Angeles law professor Kimberle Crewshaw’s groundbreaking paper, “Demarginalizing the Intersection of Race and Sex: A Black Feminist Critique of Antidiscrimination Doctrine, Feminist Theory and Antiracist Politics” (University of Chicago Legal Forum 139–67, 1989). Kimberle’s work introduced the problems of intersectionality, whereby oppressions due to race and gender can’t simply be added because they result in distinctive new identities that form a situation of new forms of discrimination.

Kimberle argued that black women are not protected by either discrimination laws for women or by discrimination laws for blacks—white women take precedence over them in the first instance and black men in the second. That is, anti-discrimination laws are satisfied in the letter of the law by protecting groups of women in which white women dominate, and groups of blacks in which men dominate. The result is that black women are not legally protected as black women.


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