In case you were wondering why it was so easy for all these people to look the other way for decades, I think this probably goes a long way in answering that question.
important tidbits from the article:
In the 1980s, Crenshaw was trying to understand why US anti-discrimination law was failing to protect Black women in the workplace, and she discovered it was because the law distinguished between two kinds of discrimination: gendered discrimination and racialized discrimination.
That is, US law distinguished between discrimination against women (on the basis of their gender) and discrimination against Black, Latino, Asian, and Indigenous people (on the basis of their race).
But in her study of discrimination in workplaces, Crenshaw observed that Black women were discriminated against on both bases – their gender and their race – at once.
So, for example, Black women were the last group to be hired at a workplace she studied – after white women and Black men. When the boss decided to lay people off, Black women were fired because they were the least senior – the last to arrive. But that they were hired last was itself due to discrimination. This group of Black women took the company to court and the judge said, “there’s no gender discrimination here because white women weren’t fired. And there’s no race discrimination here because Black men weren’t fired.”
So, Crenshaw concluded that discrimination against Black women in the workplace – as Black women – was invisible to legal concepts of discrimination that saw it in terms of “gender” only or in terms of “race” only. Black women’s experiences of discrimination were rendered invisible by these ways of categorizing discriminatory practices.