Looking Back, Looking Forward: AAPF's Year in Review

2015 has been a groundbreaking year for the African American Policy Forum (AAPF) -- a unique think tank that advances an intersectional, structural approach to racial and gender justice. From #BlackGirlsMatter to #SayHerName our work to represent the needs of women and girls of color reached a diverse audience of policy makers, activists, media, academics, and concerned stakeholders.  In 2015, AAPF drove a national conversation about women and girls of color, making visible challenges and conditions they face in order to seek accountability from stakeholders, allies and decisionmakers.  And it is work that is making a difference.



In 2015, AAPF’s groundbreaking reports were cited widely including Time Magazine, The Root,  Ms. Magazine, The Washington Post,  Salon, The Daily Beast and most recently The New York Times. Our executive director Kimberlé Crenshaw spoke about AAPF’s work on multiple media outlets, including PBS, The Tavis Smiley Show, Inside City Hall, and Al-Jazeera.  Black Girls Matter: Pushed Out, Overpoliced and Underprotected used an intersectional prism to shed light on the discriminatory experiences faced by Black girls in our nation’s public schools. Say Her Name: Resisting Police Brutality Against Black Women called attention to the experiences of Black women killed by the police -- from Tanisha Anderson to Mya Hall. Moreover, it promoted AAPF’s  #SayHerName campaign which calls for the inclusion of the experiences of women of color in dominant conceptions of state violence.



AAPF has engaged in widespread community outreach and social media advocacy initiatives. On May 20th, 2015, in partnership with 1 Billion Rising, we hosted #SayHerName: A Vigil in Memory of Black Women and Girls Killed by the Police at Union Square in New York City. For the first time family members of Black women killed by police came together from across the country in a powerful vigil designed to uplift their loved ones' stories. The #SayHerName hashtag -- promoted by AAPF in February 2015 -- has come to represent the burgeoning movement to elevate the stories of Black women who face myriad crises -- including domestic violence, sexual assault by police, and inadequate mental health support. The campaign’s goal is to engender increased visibility and accountability for women-identified victims of state violence and call for an inclusive social justice movement.



AAPF extended its signature “Breaking the Silence” Town Hall Series to uplift the discriminatory experiences of women and girls of color facing life altering challenges such as school push out, incarceration, state-sanctioned violence, domestic violence, foster care, trafficking, and housing discrimination. In 2015 we partnered with local organizations to bring town halls to New Orleans, Miami, Baltimore, Washington D.C., and Philadelphia. Furthermore, over the summer we convened an intergenerational group of women and girls of color from across the country for “Breaking Silence: An Arts, Action, and Healing Summer Camp.” The Summer Camp provided an unprecedented opportunity for participants in the Town Hall Series to share stories, uplift spirits, and fight for justice using artistic modes of expression.



On December 5, AAPF and One Billion Rising partnered to bring together a formidable group of activists for an event exploring the ties between state violence against women in the United States and in conflict zones around the world. Women activists from countries including the US, Colombia, India, Afghanistan and Palestine came together to explore the ties between imperialism, racism, sexism, and neo-colonialism and to make visible their resistance efforts. The audience drew people from all walks of life who came together for a full day to listen, to ask questions, and to become better informed advocates for peace and well being in their communities.


AAPF continues its work on #WhyWeCantWait, a campaign calling for the inclusion of women and girls of color – along with their male counterparts -- at the center of racial justice policy initiatives. Over the course of this campaign, we have released open letters, written op-eds, done TV and radio interviews and produced a series of nationally-broadcast webinars.   In order to address the many knowledge and resource gaps pertaining to women and girls of color, AAPF, in partnership with the Center for Intersectionality and Social Policy Studies, launched a research consortium in May 2015 at Columbia Law School. Academics and researchers whose work focuses on women and girls of color came together to advocate for increased research support in this arena, and to put a research plan in motion.

In November, after over a year of vibrant advocacy expousing why we cannot wait to support women and girls of color--including  op-eds written by AAPF’s Kimberlé Crenshaw in the New York Times and the Washington Post--the White House launched an $118 million initiative that targets women and girls of color.



AAPF also continues to organize timely virtual events that garner hundreds of attendees. #HerDreamDeferred, a weeklong webinar series on the status of Black women in American society, reached over 1000 attendees.  The  five-day series  focused on state violence, interpersonal violence, health disparities, the wealth gap, and barriers to higher education.   Our Spring Valley is Everywhere webinar responded to the brutal assault on a young African American girl by a School Resource Officer.  We centered the voices of young Black women to demonstrate that they too are subject to punitive disciplinary policies in this arena, and to call for a fundamental realignment of zero tolerance policies. Our webinar Holtzclaw Trial: It’s Not Over Yet  featured Oklahoma City activists Grace Franklin and Candace Liger, who have been mobilizing to support the 13 Black women who were assaulted by former OKC police officer Daniel Holtzclaw.   Participants discussed how sexual assault is one of the leading abuses faced by women of color in their interactions with the police.  The webinar set the groundwork for increased advocacy to make this problem visible and to hold police departments accountable for their multiple failures to eradicate sexually predatory behavior among police officers.


AAPF’s Executive Director, Kimberle Crenshaw, brought intersectional and structural analysis to students, educators and stakeholders across the country in more than 25 events throughout 2015.  Crenshaw moderated panels at Columbia Law School and Columbia University on the status of our democracy, and gave keynote addresses on civil rights and intersectional feminism to a variety of audiences including Duke Law School, Lafayette College, Scripps College, Seattle’s Human Rights Day, the Association of Black Sociologists and the National Women’s Studies Association’s Annual Conference. AAPF staff actively supported this outreach. They taught students at Dickinson College how to play AAPF’s “Unequal Opportunity Race Board Game,” and designed and facilitated a workshop on intersectionality for the Women’s Donor Network in New Orleans.


AAPF held the 10th Anniversary convening of its Social Justice Writers Retreat in Negril, Jamaica in 2015. The retreat provides writers interested in racial justice concerns a setting within which to share and constructively critique works in progress. Last year cofounders Crenshaw and Harris, AAPF staff, and workshop participants conceived of the idea for The Charleston Imperative  -- a statement ultimately signed by over 3,000 concerned individuals in the wake of the shooting in Charleston, South Carolina. Signees included writers, social justice advocates and others drawn from feminist and antiracist mobilizations such as Alice Walker, Eve Ensler, Kiese Laymon, Gloria Steinem, Darnell Moore, Brittney Cooper, Marlon Peterson and Jane Fonda. See, "The Charleston Imperative,” Ms. Magazine Blog; and "The Charleston Imperative," The Huffington Post. The retreat attendees included, among others, Barbara Arnwine, Janine Jackson, Devon Carbado, George Lipsitz, Sumi Cho, Steven Cohen, Paul Butler, Alvin Starks, Barbara Tomlinson, and Laura Flanders.


We are immensely grateful for the supporters who have helped make our work possible.  Your contributions allow AAPF to make unprecedented progress in broadening and deepening social justice research and advocacy.   We know that efforts to make the concerns of women and girls of color visible within  racial justice discourses require sustained advocacy and accessible frameworks.  We will carry this work into 2016 and beyond.  Won’t you join us?  Any tax deductible donation before the new year can make a difference.

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