Wednesday, October 22, 2014

When Identity Politics becomes abusive

            Like every major religion, say, Islam, Christianity and Marxism, Identity politics comes from a place that strives to give the voiceless a voice (or you know, a blog). These faiths seek to serve justice and use various means to try to achieve this goal. Islam gave us the Qur’aan and Shariaah. Identity Politics gave us anti-oppressive language or uh, anti-oppressive discourse (always read the word “discourse” in a dudebro voice, just a side note #selfcare). Oh yes, and safe(rrr) spaces and anti-oppressive practice.
            Although I self-identify as an identity politics extremist, like many people who belong to a faith group, I don’t know exactly what anti-oppressive practice is. This I believe is because the way that people read the scripture is not devoid of the contexts of our lives. Therefore, like Islam, Christianity and Marxism, the way that people practice this faith transforms based on the socioeconomic and political context, but also based on how where they stand within these spectrums and maps. For example, depending on your racial and class, You are considered a “good” or a “bad” Muslim. If You are rich and have the time to read a lot of scriptures and are relatively White, Arab or South Asian and live in the West, You have it pretty good (because let’s be real, money mediates experiences of Islamophobia because of access to education etc.- but I digress).
And also, power. Based on your identity and socioeconomic status, you will be penalized to different degrees for misusing religious (cue: dudebro voice) discourses, the best example being Obama and his crimes against humanity in the name of Judeo-Christian values. Framing. It’s cute.
            So I am here to “abuse” or uh, “call out” the academic class of Identity Politics Extremists (even though I prefer the politics of calling in, but y’all have really been irking me lately and I’m sure I’ve been irking people too).
            To condense my issues into two succinct points:
1.     Identity politics derails other issues
2.     Identity politics often condenses activist work into language policing
These issues intersect, obviously. Now, to elaborate.
            The best example I can come up with regarding identity politics is the discussion over class. Granted, usually it’s scrawny white dudebros who sleep with The Communist Manifesto under their pillow to bring the revolution closer who like to talk about class but that shouldn’t shut down the class discussion within racialized circles altogether because richer racialized people are keen on deconstructing race and identity. That’s called a derailment. Often rich racialized people have degrees. Just my 2 cents.
            I do think that often, issues are more complex. You have a group of people. Some are more disenfranchised than others. You’re organizing an event. It has to do with an issue that doesn’t center your community, rather, that perhaps it has to do more with your complicity in other issues like say, indigenous apartheid. People get bored and sad that THEY AREN’T THE CENTRE OF THE DISCUSSION. WHY AREN’T WE DISCUSSING RACE AND IDENTITY AND HOW IT FUCKS ME OVER? Well. Because sometimes you aren’t a victim. Sometimes You are a perpetrator. Of structural disenfranchisement. I get it. You face it. You can still perpetuate it. Repeat. Got it? No? Why are You even reading this? I have no sources to cite.
            Ah you stayed. Thank You.
            So something really beautiful and revolutionary that Mark Zuckberg stole from his Harvard colleagues who probably stole it from someone else invented is the Facebook. Facebook is so BLOODY FUCKING REVOLUTIONARY. It gives people a space not only to set up events and invite people and organize rallies and other you know, potentially transformative work. However, a lot of times people like to do even more transformative work. And I don’t mean self-care revolutionary I mean, truly revolutionary where they read people’s content, get enraged and comment. And then the world changes for the better. I mean come on, ever since Facebook was invented and people started commenting, INCOME GAPS HAVE DECREASED. GDPS HAVE GONE UP. And it is literally all because people have been saying “people of colour” instead of “colored people”. OH SORRY I MEANT “racialized people” instead of “people of colour”.
Environmental degradation? Increasing tuition debt? War? Apartheid? Sweatshop labor? Militarization? Let us organize events. Let us undermine the state. Let us make good allies and set up coping mechanisms for survivors. Excuse me, I’m not Indian. I’m a fifth generation East African Indian diaspora. That was really triggering.
And of course these conversations take place in person at long-winded meetings where people could actually be organizing #butidentitypolitics. 

Anyway. Rant over. I hate the left. May God be with You all. Unless You’re Marxist. Then may Marx’s spirit bring the revolution. Goodbye.

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