Noted Scholar Kimberle Crenshaw Begins Two-Year Fellowship at ACLU

January 24, 2005 12:00 am

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Noted Scholar Kimberlé Crenshaw Begins Two-Year Fellowship at ACLU


As an Ira Glasser Racial Justice Fellow, Crenshaw Will Focus on Legal Remedies to Address Discrimination

NEW YORK — The American Civil Liberties Union today announced that noted legal scholar and activist Kimberlé Crenshaw began her tenure today as an Ira Glasser Racial Justice Fellow. Crenshaw is one of six inaugural recipients of the Fellowship, which is designed to address enduring racial inequalities, including social and economic inequalities caused by historical and current discrimination. The Fellows Program provides support for individuals whose work will advance the ACLU’s longstanding commitment to racial justice. Crenshaw was awarded the Fellowship in March of 2004.

Crenshaw has served as a distinguished Professor of Law at the University of California Los Angeles and Columbia University for over a decade. She has written and lectured extensively on racial justice. Crenshaw will work to refute the widely held notion that legal remedies for racial injustice have run their course. She will seek to expose the judicial system’s recent laissez-faire attitude toward cases of racial justice and, in turn, develop materials and methods to challenge this erroneous judicial philosophy.

Crenshaw’s expertise on race and gender discrimination, and her communications expertise ideally situate her to serve as a conduit for the transmission of ideas between academia, the civil rights community, grass roots organizations, and the general public so as to broaden the terms of the racial justice debates, ensuring that more Americans are informed about the realities of the systemic forms of institutional discrimination that continue to persist in the United States.

“While traditional forms of discrimination continue to plague our society, new forms of government discrimination, often unrecognized, have also developed,” said ACLU Executive Director Anthony D. Romero. “The profiling of Arab-Americans post-9/11 provides the latest example, and our criminal justice system remains rife with blatant racial disparities, effectively functioning as a successor to Jim Crow injustice.”

Specifically, Crenshaw will be conducting research toward providing a framework within which academics, lawyers and activists in various fields can resist the claims advanced by some that racial parity has been achieved in the United States. In this regard, she will explore four principle assumptions underlying what she calls “racial laissez-faire jurisprudence”: (1) The belief that racial disparities are now the natural product of free and open competition over resources and opportunities in society; (2) the idea that intergenerational disparities in access and opportunity are beyond the scope of legal and public policy making; (3) the notion that increasing racial diversity in the nation expunges the specific and sustained history of white supremacy and (4) the assumption that the law is a neutral arbiter of race interests that are constituted outside the law. Her research and scholarship will inform the development of workshops, curricula, and other materials that will be distributed over her two-year tenure at the ACLU.

The other individuals chosen from over 100 nominations are: Robert T. Carter, Daniel Levitas, Rain Archambeau Marshall, Morris Taylor, and Ray Ybarra. The Fellows are named for longtime ACLU Executive Director Ira Glasser, who headed the organization for 23 years, retiring in 2001.

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