(Also, ten bucks says Eli Steele is related to Shelby Steele. You know, the “Content of Our Character” guy.)
This piece of byte-waste from the LA Times is about how the new interracial generation will save us all. It’s yet another version of once we all f*ck each other and the races mix we will have harmony. No, seriously. Because identity politics are the cause of all our racial problems:
The day will arrive when this interracial generation reaches political consciousness and finds itself at odds with America’s divisive identity politics. Of all Americans, they represent the best opportunity to end these politics and point America back to its tradition of individualism.
People who identify as mixed race have already reached “political consciousness.” There are groups such as Mavin and Swirl and numerous hapa organizations. Do they find themselves “at odds” with identity politics? I can’t really say. But what I do know is that many multiracial people self- identify as people of color. Is that buying into “divisive identity politics”?
I find the identification as a person of color to be one that recognizes a shared experience and a common humanity. One that is anti-racist and fights white supremacy. One that forces out internalized crap and racism seepage from the larger society. But hey, that’s just me.
It isn’t about hating whitey. I don’t find it “divisive.” To the contrary. Is my identity part of my politics? Yes, and that’s true for everybody. Not just folks of color.
But the term “identity politics” is often used in a derogatory way. The sneer comes from a position of privilege in which whiteness is centered, neutral and the norm. But for the thousandth time, identifying racism, naming racism and fighting racism is not about creating divisions. Those divisions were already there. Making us all colorblind and forcing us to sing kumbaya will not end racism.
Most minorities today fall conveniently within categories such as African American, Chinese American or Mexican American. These labels arose during an era of political correctness that literally placed race, ethnicity or religion before national identity. Since the 1960s, minorities have found in their racial identity a preferential gateway into public and private institutions.
I tend to have a knee-jerk reaction to people who use the term “political correctness,” because what they really mean to say is oh it’s so problematic to have to treat other people with consideration and allow them to choose their own identification. Basically what Steele is saying is that these labels arose in response to labels such as [racial slurs redacted].
“African,” “Chinese” and “Mexican” are used as adjectives, so of course they are literally placed before the national identity “American.” But Steele seems to imply that the Africanness, the Chineseness and the Mexicanness are valued above the Americanness. Because if they were True Americans, they would drop all this hyphenated nonsense. (This despite the fact that we don’t use hyphens. Ahem.)
And you can see how we have used our racial identity as a preferential gateway. You can see how all the CEOs of the Fortune 500 companies are people of color. The senators. The congressional reps. The President of the You-Freaking-Nited-States for that matter.
Because we cheated to get where we are. You know that Obama really should have gone to a vocational school (as my high school counselor and many of my friends’ counselors suggested). Because he wasn’t really qualified for Harvard Law.
Oh, and Obama is himself multiracial. But he identifies as African American. When will he join the critical mass?
Will such identity politics survive the interracial baby boom? Will new categories arise for the African German American or Chinese Latino American? Will a critical mass of interracials become an eclectic race in their own right? Or will they bypass the labels and embrace individualism?
My hope is that my children and their peers will restore a weakened American legacy: the self-invented and self-made individual. If they do, they will be free, as their ancestors were, to carve out identities and contribute to an already rich heritage for future generations.
Apparently identities must be freed of racial identification or racial identity. In other words, white. Because as a person of color, I am not free. I am not an individual. No, I am just a slave to the hive mind.