Identity Politics: A Brief Attack
You are a hollow, underdeveloped person when you exclaim that your sexuality, race, or sex makes you. When you claim that it is part of ‘everything’ you do and is relevant to all occasions.
Of these three superficial identities, race is by far the most arbitrary and least important. Objectively speaking, race means nothing and you’ll find even the definition wanting for anything approaching exactitude. It is a construct, factitious, and only important because we say that it is – from the racists to the liberals. But if everyone stopped caring, race would cease to matter. Sex and sexuality at least have the benefit of practical consequences – with or without social recognition.
It is of course important to acknowledge the role racism and racial politics play in our lives and the practical consequences. This cannot be ignored. But neither can the fact that race itself, as a concept, only has substance because we say it does. To create solidarity based on this might be the saddest act of admission that exists, exposing clearly your entirely vacuous sense of self. In fact, by identifying strictly on race, sex, or orientation, you make a monolith of these groups by falling for the lazy assumption that what they have in common is both meaningful and binding. You are admitting that the people who share these qualities are the same because of them.
Skin colors have no ability to self-develop. They cannot change over time. Neither can sex or orientation. One might as well form a club devoted to the experiences and self-determination of green-eyed people. I ask, so what if two people have similar experiences with discrimination? Who hasn’t had such experiences? The experience of discrimination and bigotry at the hands of a racist or homophobe is fundamentally the same. And the experience of feelings like rage, frustration, disappointment, sadness, and alienation are hardly the domain of bigotry alone. We are all human and we can all know what these feelings are like. There is nothing unique about these happenings and they need not be essentialized. In fact, they may well be called eventualities.
If, however, we choose ideology, say secular humanism, then we have created a realm in which everyone is potentially welcome. It encourages self-awareness, development, and exploration. Ideologies can find middle-ground and build upon it and best of all, they can be critical and are themselves prone to critique. And they can be shared. In this way edification happens. And when you do discriminate based on ideology you do so in the spirit of dialectical analysis – it is based on the merits of one’s ideology rather than their appearance or sexual behavior. This gives us the tools to dismiss meaningless or harmful ideologies like those associated with racism.
If something as superficial as skin tone or orientation can be the basis of a relationship then it can also be the reason to end it. There is nothing reasonable or liberating about creating solidarity around genetic or physical traits. If someone has had similar experiences and thus has come to believe similar things then that could be rock upon which to build something, but remember, you don’t need to find someone sharing your minority status to secure a sense of solidarity. Using your physical traits or sexuality as a precondition for understanding is the VERY ESSENCE of bigotry.
Identity politics kills fellowship, it does not inspire it.