Identity Politics Dehumanizes by Boiling People Down to Skin-Deep Traits

Identity Politics, Race, Rundown

What do you need to make your life better? What economic, social, fiscal, and welfare propositions will improve the way in which you and your family’s situation improves? One would think that the best way to determine this is to consider the aspects most important to one’s self, based on their individual situation, ideology, moral standards, surrounding environment, and other personal traits. To those who believe in the premises of identity politics, these and other factors are to be discarded in order to embrace the ideologies and solutions put forth for people of a certain kind by a higher moral authority.

Identity politics works off the premise that certain skin-deep characteristics are the base upon which every other part of a person’s being is built and carries with it pre-conceived notions that are considered inherent to those who match-up with the baseline characteristics, such as circumstances and behaviour.

This is most clearly displayed in the political approach towards blacks, Latinos, gays, brown people, and other minorities to whom policy prescriptions are designed to apply blanketly. The idea that economic and social prescriptions can be targeted at the improvement of all people within a racial or social category makes two assumptions that are inherent to all identity-politics-style prescriptions:

1) All people within this group are exactly the same. In other words, it can be determined what economic, social, security, labour, and education ailments riddle an individual by the categorization of their collective. This leaves out, of course, the ability to explore the nuanced situations individuals that share a trait, such as race, can live in. By the standard of identity politics, the interests of middle-class Latinos and those who live in poverty are to be addressed and considered similarly.

2) People within this group are different from others outside the group regardless of similar circumstance. This is to say there must be a different approach between two groups of people in similar circumstances, based on the skin-deep characteristics of one of these groups of people. This can be seen in the focus on minorities and education where affirmative action approaches suggest a person’s race be considered more heavily than they’re individual socio/economic backgrounds or aptitude, not to mention ignoring a more holistic view of action towards education and poverty that would address all people with similar issues regardless of race.

These assumptions get at the crux of why identity politics is inherently dehumanizing. A person is a complex set attributed generated by a bevvy of factors, all of which are cast aside by defining a person by the skin-deep attribute that identity politics advocates have determined to be the centrepiece of their existence.

The issue of dehumanization goes even further as certain people are expected to adhere to a guideline of acceptable socio-political outlooks, and to skew away from these pre-approved ideas is to be a traitor to the cause and risks being ostracised.

Take, for example, the somewhat recent debacle with Kanye West coming out as a Donald Trump supporter; a move broadly categorized as an affront to black people. The truth that agreeing or disagreeing with a political figure has everything to do with an individual’s personal outlook and nothing to do with the melanin in their skin. However, the ideology of identity politics rejects this by asserting that certain people have a responsibility not only to speak a certain way but to think a certain way too.

After Kanye West asserted that he supported Donald Trump, Chance the Rapper, a strong detractor of president Trump, tweeted out a statement that caused outrage. The tweet?

In the eyes of anyone who recognizes Chance the Rapper’s humanity as an individual capable of independent and complex thought, this tweet would not have any inherent issues. Of course, that is not how Chance and people of similar racial background are expected to talk or think by the standard of identity politics. Following an outpouring of condemnation towards Chance the Rapper’s tweet he was forced to walk it back.

Identity politics, though rarely called by that name by its proponents, positions itself as the ideology of advocacy for social and racial minorities, yet it assumes the worst of the very people they claim to care for. Identity Politics advocated will claim that harsh drug laws are created to target black and Hispanic people, which cannot be true without the assumption that black and Hispanic people are avid drug users/dealers. Identity politics advocates claim that enforcing public decency laws during gay pride parades is homophobic, which cannot be so without the assumption that one cannot be gay without being sexually promiscuous and indecent.

This is not to say that there are not minority groups dealing with issues that need to be addressed, but the indoctrination of victimhood and establishment of acceptable ideologies on people due to skin-deep factors is no way to address them. Individuals make up the collective, not the other way around, and it’s time to stop the push to address issues of significant importance using the faulty ideology of dehumanizing ideologues.

Emilio Garcia
Deputy Editor, The Unshackled
Host of the Front and Center Podcast