Wednesday, November 26, 2014

More on Identity Politics

These posts on identity politics are lifted from a discussion on facebook. I was so clueless that I picked the day of the Ferguson verdict, when many people were feeling anger and grief, to question identity politics. I hadn't been paying enough attention to the verdict, since it seemed like a foregone conclusion. The cop would not be indicted. Anyway, this is more of my end of discussion:
This is a fuzzy topic, and I made it worse by bringing up language. I should have picked a better day for it. But I think the question that comes up over and over is, what is to be done? We have a broken down political system, a broken down economic system and environmental collapse looms ahead of us. What Ferguson tells us is, African Americans are expected to put up with the same shit they have put up since before the country's founding. So, what do we do? How do we move to action? Maybe the people of Ferguson have shown us a way to begin.
I suggested a panel on identity politics for Wiscon and wrote on facebook:
I think a panel like this could easily be a nightmare, one in a long series of nightmare panels I have done. I have done panels that turned out so badly that entire strangers commiserated with me in the convention hallways.

The panels from hell have always been panels on feminism, race or class. The results, while it was horrifying to watch as an audience exploded, indicated that the topic needed to be talked about. Think of it as poking a stick into a hole where a very large spider lives. Yes, it's awful when the great, hairy, horrible thing scurries out, but maybe it needed to see the light of day. (I speak as one who is not phobic about spiders, but I like the image.)
More from facebook:
I got a response from Wiscon programming, a fairly long note on how I was wrong and racist. I thanked the person in question for their input. The general idea I got was, over Wiscon's dead bodies would the panels I suggested happen.

I saved the message on my desktop, so Patrick could read it later. Patrick is a straight white man, except for being half Ojibwa -- or as such mixed race people are called in Canada, Metis. In spite of his many failings as a straight white man, he is my go-to person for political good sense.


Blogger Foxessa said...

My personal opinion is that the confusion and cross-purpose discussion arise on all points by a confusion of identity politics, social justice and civil rights.

They may, and often do, hold hands at points, but they are not one and same.

Identity politics has huge potential for toxicity, see Israel and Palestine, for a single example, particularly if one includes religion as part of identity which both the Israelis and Palestinians do. That identity politik prevents any vision of social justice or civil rights developing.

This being the USA, who can only see and think in binary mode: yes, no; right, wrong; good, bad; us, them; two party system, etc. -- our minds can't see intersectionality at all.

Then, when so few white people actually discuss face to face with people who aren't white, or even be in a room or in company where white isn't numerically dominant, in a nation whose entire identity politically, legally / criminally and economically is built out of white supremacy, we are back at Jim Crow, substituting shooting for lynching.

It's our founding mythology.

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