She's a civil rights advocate and leading scholar of critical race theory.
And if you've been part of a feminist or antiracist movement in the past decades you probable owe Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw a debt of gratitude since her work and theories have provided the framework for current activism. Critical race theory "recognizes that racism is engrained in the fabric and system of the American society" and examines issues of racism as being part of our legal and social systems. Crenshaw's work has been essential to movements like Black Lives Matter and Say Her Name- both movements aim to reduce police violence against black people in the United States. She also introduced the concept of intersectionality to feminist theory in the 1980s:
Intersectionality is essential!
When it comes to issues of race and gender (as well as class, disability, sexuality, and other marginalized identities), people don't experience just one form of discrimination at once. No one is split into multiple versions of themselves, and discrimination doesn't target just one part of a person's identity. If we compartmentalize a person's identity, we lose the ability to understand them as a whole person. Which is why intersectionality is hugely important to the feminist and antiracist movements. What is uplifting and powerful for one group might be harmful to another, and that must be taken into account when any kind of activist work is being done. You can read more about this theory in Crenshaw's own words: “Demarginalizing the Intersection of Race and Sex: A Black Feminist Critique of Antidiscrimination Doctrine, Feminist Theory and Antiracist Politics.”
Let's hear it for this awesome woman!
She's an incredible scholar, advocate, and activist. She's currently a full professor at UCLA School of Law and Columbia Law School, where she continues this important work.