2/25/2015 Reading Notes
1. Kimberle Crenshaw - Demarginalizing the Intersection of Race and Sex: A Black Feminist Critique of Antidiscrimination Doctrine, Feminist Theory, and Antiracist Politics (1989)
a) A starting point: all the women are white and all the blacks are men. This is the rationale for Kimberle Crenshaw (1989) to develop her feminist criticism because black women are unfortunately marginalized from both gender inequality issue and antiracism fight. She mainly discusses how black women are marginalized in feminist theory and antiracist politics, and the most important reason of which is because these two domains have very few interactions.
b) In the Antidiscrimination framework, the author first talks about the experience of intersectionality and the doctrinal response by examining how courts understand and respond to black women plaintiffs. In the first case between five black women and General Motors, the court dismissed the plaintiffs’ complaints for three reasons. One the one hand, General Motors did hire white women according to the Civil Rights Act of 1964, so they were supposed to be exempt from sex discrimination complaint. On the other hand, the court refuted complaint on race discrimination as well because the company also hired black males. From this specific case, readers can see the problem exists because of the absent protection of intersectionality for black women. They could neither seek protection over gender issue compared with white women nor expect protection over race discrimination compared with black men. In the second case of Hughes Helicopters Company, the court directly rejects the request of black females as a class representative. The court believes that black females should not represent all females and “against females” should replace “against black females”. The logic behind this case is that white women do not see themselves as “white females”, but only females instead. This is because race does not contribute to their societal inferiority, which is distinct from black females.
c) In the second section, the author discusses the importance of treatment of intersectionality in doctrinal. She points out that not only courts, but also feminist and civil rights thinkers should consider intersectionality problem.
d) In the third section, the author tries to integrate an analysis of sexism into black liberation politics. First of all, she argues that black community failed to address black women’s problem. Then the author suggests expanding feminist theory and antiracist politics by embracing intersection. From the racism perspective, the black community should include an analysis of sexism and patriarchy and from the gender perspective feminism should include an analysis of race. Both sides must not ignore the intersectional difficulties encountered by black women. A “top-down” approach is better to be adopted.
2. Susan Roxburgh –