1. I use “LGBT+” In this article
to refer to what most people
call the LGBT or the LGBTQ
community. I use LGBT+ to
denote that I am not limiting
my discussion of this community to lesbian, gay, bisexual,
and trans individuals, but
rather including everyone who
counts themselves as part of
this incredibly multifaceted
2. We the Podcast: #SayHerName
with Dr. Kimberlé Crenshaw,
REPRESENTATIVE KEITH ELLISON
(May 11, 2016), http://
11T07_ 37_23-07_00. See
also Kimberlé Crenshaw, Close
Encounters of Three Kinds: On
Teaching Dominance Feminism
and Intersectionality, 46 TULSA
L. REV. 151 (2010-2011);
Demarginalizing the Intersection of
Race and Sex: A Black Feminist
Critique of Antidiscrimination
Doctrine, Feminist Theory and
Antiracist Politics, 1989 U.
CHI. LEGAL F. 139 (1989).
3. See Crenshaw, Close Encounters, supra note 2, at 175, for
contributions by Vinson and
4. Discussed as sameness or difference frames by Crenshaw,
referencing Catharine MacKin-non, in Close Encounters, supra
5. Kimberlé Crenshaw, Mapping
the Margins: Intersectionality,
Identity Politics, and Violence
Against Women of Color, 43
STAN. L. REV. 1241, 1245
(1990-1991). See also Crenshaw, Demarginalizing, supra
6. Kimberlé Crenshaw, Twenty
Years of Critical Race Theory,
43 CONN. L. REV. 1253, 1262-
7. I use the term “Negro” here
as Murray states this is her
preferred term in her auto-
biography. This remained
her preferred term even after
significant encounters with the
Black Nationalist movement
and the idea of reclaiming
the term Black. In addition, al-
though there is much evidence
of her questioning her gender,
she continually refers to herself
as a woman in her autobiog-
raphy, so I will also use she/
her pronouns. PAULI MURRAY,
PAULI MURRAY: THE AUTOBI-
OGRAPHY OF A BLACK ACTIVIST,
FEMINIST, LAWYER, PRIEST, AND
POET (4th ed. 1987).
8. Id. ANNE PAULI MURRAY
(last visited Feb. 20, 2017).
9. MURRAY, supra note 7, at 356-
10. Id. at 106.
11. Id. at 107.
13. Id. at 356-57 (emphasis in
14. Id. at 107.
15. Kimberlé Crenshaw, Whose
Story Is It, Anyway? Feminism
and Antiracist Appropriations
of Anita Hill, in Race-ing
POWER: ESSAYS ON ANITA HILL,
CLARENCE THOMAS, AND THE
CONSTRUCTION OF SOCIAL
REALITY 403 (Toni Morrison
16. Id. at 406.
17. Liane Jackson, Minority
Women are Disappearing From
BigLaw—And Here’s Why,
ABA J. (March 2016), at www.
18. American Bar Association
Commission on Women in the
Profession, A Current Glance at
Women in the Law (May 2016).
19. Jackson, supra note 17.
20. New York City Bar Association, 2011 Diversity Benchmarking Study: A Report to
Signatory Law Firms, at 16.
22. Jackson, supra note 17.
25. S.K., Why Lesbians Tend To
Earn More Than Heterosexual
Women, ECONOMIST (Feb. 15,
2016), at http://
27. MURRAY, supra note 7, at 416.
intersectional ways. This could be as simple as making sure to talk about both #say-hisname and #sayhername on social media
when referencing Black Lives Matter. Or
it could be as complicated as researching
and trying to understand the way the lack
of intersectionality in the main antiracism
agenda at the time of Anita Hill’s testimony contributed to the way the public reacted, the way Congress reacted, and Justice
Thomas’s eventual confirmation.
Then I realized that, in certain ways, I
could be considered intersectional. I am a
woman, but I am also not in the middle
class. Whether you want to call that “lower-
class” or “working class” or “poor,” it’s
where I am currently and it’s where I grew
up. I have long been aware of the ways that
have made my experience entering the le-
gal profession different from many of my
peers. However, before learning about in-
tersectionality, I had not really considered
how being a woman and being from a poor
background had combined in my life in
different ways at different times to create
experiences for me that were different from
“the struggles of the poor” or “the strug-
gles of women.”
Then I noticed that, when I look around
myself at any given location, most of the
people I see could probably be considered
intersectional in some way. And I found my-
self wondering, what are their stories? Why
are they where they are today? Have they
encountered difficulties similar to my own?
Or different ones?
Asking myself these questions from an
intersectional perspective drove home to me
why this concept is so important. Once you
start considering all the many different cate-
gories an individual could fall into and all the
ways in which those aspects of their identity
could combine to create very different ex-
periences for them, you recognize the limits
of the ways we usually talk about groups of
people. The really important questions that
come out of this exploration are questions
like: When I talk about diversity in the le-
gal profession, do I actually think of the in-
credibly broad reality of what that means?
Or am I only thinking about white women
and men of color? When I talk about Mus-
lims, am I only thinking of them as Mid-
dle Eastern? Am I only thinking of them as
straight and cis-gendered? When I suggest
changes to my profession or my profession-
al organizations, what kind of perspective
am I coming from? And whose perspectives
might I be overlooking? When I talk to my
colleagues or my clients, how much do I re-
ally understand about their identity?
Viewing the world through an intersectional prism has changed my life. It’s
changed the way I examine my own biases,
interact with others, and choose to engage
with and contribute to my profession. What
does it do for you? How does it change the
way you engage with diversity in the legal
Intersectionality, Diversity and the Legal Profession