Who are you? Is EVERYTHING about identity politics
Who are you?
Who do you belong to?
These questions were posed to me and a group of type A high-achievers. Abstract, philosophical and potentially squishy questions.
Person, places and the issue of identity is picking up momentum and taking up space in our collective consciousness. Within the last ten days, I've had four separate conversations about identity and identity politics.
The interesting thing is that I am both for and against identity. How can something be both true and not true?!
When discussing inequality I believer race and gender are important intersectional factors that are critical to the discourse. A discussion on inequality (in every level) without factoring in the person or the group's race and gender leads us to a Calvinist Republican attitude towards poverty alleviation, i.e., hardwork alone, pull yourself up by your bootstraps kind of policies (it hasn't worked).
At the same time, not every action someone makes is an insult perpetrated based on identity, it can be, but not always. For examples, members of a women group I am part of often interprets everything through a gendered lens. Every slight inflicted is simply because they are a woman; every additional responsibility assigned is because women are often asked to do more (often unpaid).
I wish there is a defined line. Categorical choices for when you are in discussion of XYZ, all aspects of identity is critical and should be considered; and when conversations are about ABC, maybe we should step back from filter everything through the lens of race, gender, class, and etc., and consider it on human grounds first and foremost. The line is faint and the playbook is blank.
What do we do?
Some of the more intriguing ideas that floated across my view this week on the issues of identity include:
1. 9/11 was a defining point in elevating identity and identity politics. (Interesting. I hadn't considered trying to pinpoint a turning point for when we started looking at ourselves and each other through this inflection point.)
2. Identity is so fraught, so impossible to talk about in the current climate, fiction becomes the only safe space for exploration. (I have lots of thoughts on the role of fiction which I'll follow up in another note later).
3. Identity politics is entirely an invention of the US. (I completely disagree with.)
Daughter, American, Woman, Photographer, Nomad, USC Alumni, Expat, Writer, Chinese, Agnostic, Goth, Rebel, Wife, New Yorker, Globe Trotter, EHF Fellow, Creative Director, Taiwanese, Adventurer, Executive Director are only some of the identities that I've worn, discarded and claimed. Yet none of them are my first instinct when someone asks me how I consider myself.
I am me. And I belong to myself.
That is my first answer and the one that feels the most truthful. Every other label, albeit many of them are outside of our control, are like a costume, something we can slip on and off, ever-changing and shifting, depending on the audience.
Who are you, my love? And who do you belong to?
Your Ever Shapeshifting
IDEAS YOU CAN STEAL
Instagram fanatics! Buffer introduced a new feature this week where the app will fill out the first comment on a new post for you. What do you mean? Instagram allows for up to 30 hashtags per post, but you don't want all those tags to be in the description of the post ~ it looks sloppy. So, this means you can post the majority of them, say 27 of those relevant hashtags in the first comment section. Now, Buffer will do that for you.
WORTH A READ
Against Identity Politics. The New Tribalism and the Crisis of Democracy
By Francis Fukuyama (Foreign Affairs)
Don't let the title fool you. Fukuyama lays out the wins and fails of identity politics, areas and examples where it was great for propelling the agenda forward: #METOO, Black Lives Matter, and also the shortcomings: the rise popularism worldwide. He also offers some concrete suggestions on what is missing and ways to reframe the conversation going forward.
(upcoming) Norway, Thailand, Kurdistan, and Boston. DC has been postponed.
Billions (Showtime). It's not a super addictive show, you can pace it out and sometimes that is a great thing. The writing and acting are super solid. It's a great cipher to understand what motivates people.