If a person darker than me makes a valid claim regarding the intersection of identity and politics (e.g., oppression of white workers is nothing compared to the half-millenium long holocaust “still going on”# , namely black genocide), and then a person who is my shade or lighter makes the identical claim, (e.g., oppression of white workers is nothing compared to the half-millenium long holocaust “still going on”#, namely black genocide), although this time it’s judged to be invalid, then what has occurred is a violation of Kant’s categorical imperative, namely , “act only in accordance with that maxim through which you can at the same time will that it become a universal law.” Further, it positions truth claims within the body of the person making the claim, thereby denying materialism in favor of subjective metaphysics as a means of assessing truth claims. Not just a slippery slope here. It’s literally, “believe whatever you feel” at a formal level, and it is what white Americans think of when they hear “left wing extremists.” White America thinks the left wing are uppity black students. That’s not just ignorance, that’s a consequence of being systematically lied to in the interests of white supremacist capitalist patriarchy.
As Fela Kuti teaches us, the colonizer “do themselves” the same as it “does” the colonized. White America is chewing on its own tail around a treadmill dog track, just to make sure the lights are still bright in the gray corridors in the apparatuses of power.
Since “whiteness” is a construction of white supremacist capitalist patriarchy, and the catch-all category “non-white” is a function of the system of white supremacy, and since white people’s practice of “identity politics” can only be done in good faith by white nationalists, then the risk is always present that an idea will be ignored because it’s not “theirs,” whosoever “they” might be. Even Ms. Carter was attacked for her fricking amazing video (the one where she poses on top of a police cruiser stuck in a flood) because she was disallowed by the most persnickety of the word police to “speak” for the people of New Orleans, being only half Bama Creole and basically all Houston.
I got news for you folks, if I did that with my white buddies, if I said, “no one can speak for white men except for white men?” If I said, “the white race is a vibrant and dynamic community?” Not pretty. It is black folks and only black folks who can say most forcefully to a willfully ignorant and congenitally forgetful white America, that, hey, remember COINTELPRO? Remember Chairman Fred Hampton’s state sanctioned execution and disinformation campaign that happened basically yesterday? Do you really think that the powers that be just gave up and said, “Oh well, I guess we can’t actually destroy the blacks with mind control after all, let’s just go back to protecting our freedoms?” If I were the King of the Panopticonopolis, I would do the following. Make as many fine-grained “identities” as I can. Isolate these identities so that the only thing that connects them is capital, and the fact that none of them can say anything about any of the other nano-identities. That way, the people are always spinning away from each other into their own cozy private feedback loop. The evidence is all around us that this has already happened.
In effect, what this does is reify the artificial constructs of “race.” The danger in this is that the vital interests of oppressed communities can be obscured in the language of feelings. Material conditions are ignored, and the focus on material conditions is the sine qua non of any type of socialism. What really spooks me is when I see that the passions and end-goals of oppressed groups can weirdly coincide with some of the goals of white nationalists, primarily the splitting of the working class into horse-breeding type categories along the lines of the good old-fashioned quadroon, octoroon, creole, mestizo,* etc., categories which are not just remnants of the slave trade, but an invention of the slave trade, a lie that flies in the face of the entire history of civilization.
There are two classes: workers and bosses. All identities are bisected by the class divide. Willful knowledge will always conquer willful ignorance. The people on the working side of the conference table will always trump the powers that be.
# cf. Chuck D, Public Enemy.
*Mestizo is totally different from the others insofar as “mestizo” for the left should now signify primarily the fact that the people of Latin America are one people, a people who have always been on the front lines of resisting U.S. hegemony because they were the first to encounter it.