Identity Politics is the current buzz phrase for Labels. Like we need MORE of those. And yet, we use them all the time.
They can help us find our tribe, I suppose; they can help define a search if you're looking for a forum online - say, RV travel, as an example.
Or Gay, if you're on a dating site and want to limit the responses.
But more and more, they divide us into Us & Them.
You can see that within our group as we decide how and when to allow new women into the group.
By the way: Women: one of our labels.
Here are some of mine: Crone, woman, Lesbian, student, teacher, dancer, centrist, singer, survivor of Fundamentalism and of Christianism.
You can add Former daughter, aunt, cousin, friend, helper, instigator... it all depends on how I 'identify' in any given circumstance, and/or how you see me through your own filters.
And the real truth is that the more we cling to our labels, the less we know of ourselves, the more likely we are to close our minds to any new idea, to new people, to new points of view.
If you spend any time at all among the posts and comments on Social Media, you know this is true.
I came across this article today, written by Maria Popova of Brain Pickings. She has another take on this label thing.
“A Gentle Corrective for the Epidemic of Identity Politics Turning Us on Each Other and on Ourselves”
Her research is extensive; though, since she claims "reader" as one of her labels she may just know some of this stuff!
There are several great quotes of other writers such as James Baldwin, John O'Donohue, Descarte, John Quinn, and others. Near the bottom of the article, she links to essays by Margaret Meade, Barack Obama, Walt Whitman.
This one is Maria's own:
"...we now cling to our identity-fragments, using them as badges and badgering artillery in confronting the templated identity-fragments of others." (emphasis mine)
This one from James Baldwin is a new favorite of mine:
“This collision between one’s image of oneself and what one actually is is always very painful and there are two things you can do about it, you can meet the collision head-on and try and become what you really are or you can retreat and try to remain what you thought you were, which is a fantasy, in which you will certainly perish.”
I do hope you'll read this article and maybe follow a link or two. I think it would be good fodder for conversation.