Tuesday, January 22, 2019

**RANT** Life and Identity

It's been a while since I have done a rant post, but...

Recently, there's been a lot of discussion about the various pols gearing up to run to head the country. Kamala Harris is one person that gets a lot of love and hate from citizens who vote. I honestly don't know much more about her than what I saw during the Kavanaugh hearings. I would have to educate myself before I could voice a fair opinion. But let's talk about the underlying conversation. Let's talk about the whole idea of "identity politics". That's something I can chime in on. I've been wanting to chime in for a while but had to wait until I was having a day when I could think clearly and on point. Here goes.

I abhor "identity" anything: politics, religion, society, etc. We as human beings don't seem to be able to do anything in moderation. We turn enjoyment of everything into addiction or crime. We start out wanting to "identify" with each other to form connections and before you know it, we are forming dangerous religious cults, political hate groups, and crime syndicates. We have worried so much about grouping together - identifying - with one another that we are starting to not think as individuals.

(Before I get this rant properly started, let me admit that I have gone back and forth on some subjects of race and nationality. I'm human and I sometimes have "waffled". That is because I am always maturing in my opinions.  I've talked about race/nationality and things of my blackness here, here, here, and here, and probably in a couple more posts. This post though is going to be one I won't mind having thrown in my face in the future. So, let's go on.)

During a conversation with a family member a few months back, I explained why I wish we could all get over using race to identify each other. In my opinion, when we identify by race (or nationality), we automatically fall back on stereotypes. Ideally, we will learn to identify by cultures and I will speak more on that later.  If we start identifying each other based on other things, we can be more intelligent about socializing.
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Now, about the "identifying as cultures" thing. I know that there are different cultures within cultures. As a black American, I know that I have lived or experienced being  so many different kinds of black that I can hardly keep up: black Texan, black Southerner, black Yankee, black G.I. brat, black Alaskan, black Iowan, black woman to a black man, black wife to a white man, black wife to a white Englishman, and a  black divorcee. I can self-identify all over again as all those things as just a woman. Therefore, I can largely identify with other women who have been Texan, Southern, Yankee, etc. We would have things to talk about and relate to. And the race issue matters, of course, but it wouldn't be what brought us into a dialogue.

My best friend is a woman who is 20 years my senior. We only met because we worked together and happened upon a friendship due to some random happenings. Left to our own devices, we might never have been anything more than nod-and-smile co-workers. I am so thankful this woman is in my life. Imagine how many more people are out there I could have been connected with. 

There are plenty of people who check the same boxes I do for gender, race, religion, and nationality with whom I might have nothing else in common. Out of about 10 billion people on the planet, there have got to be hundreds of thousands I can seriously relate to based on other things. Hobbies, phobias, quirks, humor, skills, goals, hopes - if I met someone right now, these are the things I want to talk with them about. These are the things that will connect us. 

Anyway, I am losing some of my coherence so I will wind down but I hope you got the gist of my point. Stereotypes divide us and are just a lazy way to look at the world and justify some of our own behaviors. Stereotypes only "have some truth" because of statistics: out of 10 billion people, you can find an argument for any stereotype. 

I really hope we can all learn to approach each other (or not) in a more sensible way. After all, Ted Bundy and other dangerous people have used stereotypes to their advantage.