Friday, July 6, 2007

Minorities, Identity Politics and Political Correctness

Words that I loathe.


mi·nor·i·ty [mi-nawr-i-tee, -nor, -mahy-] Pronunciation Key - Show IPA Pronunciation noun, plural -ties, adjective
1. the smaller part or number; a number, part, or amount forming less than half of the whole.
2. a smaller party or group opposed to a majority, as in voting or other action.
3. a group differing, esp. in race, religion, or ethnic background, from the majority of a population: legislation aimed at providing equal rights for minorities.
4. a member of such a group.
5. the state or period of being under the legal age of full responsibility.
6. of or pertaining to a minority.

It's estimated that there are approximately 6,602,224,175 living people on this earth. More than two thirds of that population is not white.

"Politically Correct" and Identity Politics":

These words trivialize the struggles and aspirations of communities of color. They normalize the very abnormal experience of being privileged in this world. They assume that the struggles of these exist rest on the periphery of (North American) society and must be spoken about as additives to "normal" [read: privileged] discourse. I come from a different ideological position, one that assumes that the struggles of communities of color are intrinsically tied to the fate of every person in this country. It's the subjugation of communities of color that validate and inform what it means to be powerful, what it means to be white.

Identity is pervasive in any political stance. Bill O'Reilly's, as a white, wealthy, straight man whose stance against gays, black people, brown folk, the rest of the world, and the earth is an ideological weapon that ensures his success and reinforces his power and privilege. But so far, I've never heard anyone accuse O'Reilly of pulling the "race" or "wealthy straight male" card.

I try to operate from a framework that presupposes that politics are pervasive in every facet of life, from the water you use to shower in the morning, the food you eat at lunch, to the person you sleep with at night. More than anything the term "politically correct" is a meager attempt to absolve folks of their racism. "I know this isn't politically correct to say this, but..." Fuck being politically correct. Just say it. You're racist. We all are. You can't live in this society and not be racist, sexist, homophobic, age-ist, classist, and everything else that centuries of colonization and brutality have inscribed in every one of us. Let's get past the point of being afraid to have real discussion so we can heal. Folks have fought and died to have ownership over what they're called. So no, it's not insulting to have a discussion about it. It is insulting to trivialize that struggle by putting it in a narrow vacuum of silence.

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