So far, I have provided a brief explanation of why ‘identity’ is important to us and why because identity is important to us, ‘identity politics’ develops and persists in both a positive and negative manner.
In this essay, I intend to dwell more on the relationship ‘identity politics’ has with accessibility, for the purpose of showing how in the eyes of society, one identity can be superior to another thus enabling social and economic disparities between individuals.
Recall that in my last article I asked that you imagine Hogwarts as a classist society where the houses at Hogwarts are identities.
Members of Slytherin in this scenario are to be averagely the 1%, while those in Ravenclaw or in Gryffindor are the middle class, and the people in house Hufflepuff, are averagely the poor (forgive me again).
I claimed that this is basically how identity and class works except, in reality, rather than having your identity sorted by a hat, you are born into your identity and consequently, your class.
Now, as I said previously, in modern society there is the believe and some evidence that you can move between classes, if you ‘work hard enough’. However it was my argument that realistically, this can only really happen if you are lucky enough to access the right amenities and meet the right people.
In other words, in modern society, regardless of hard work, it is my position that accessibility is key and because accessibility is important, it can cause the situation where one’s identity can play a huge role in how their life will be.
Imagine Slytherins are the only individuals that were allowed to handle wands or books with the best spells. That gives them a significant advantage over everyone else with regards to the practice of magic in every regard.
Thankfully, the real world of Hogwarts is one that at least favours equality of opportunity and gives all its students an equal start in the race to becoming a good wizard.
Nevertheless, my point has been made and it is that if you take accessibility out of the equation for some identities, others will get an advantage over them.
Let’s apply this to the world we all live in.
Events such as colonisation, slavery and racism are the real world equivalent of Slytherins being the only group permitted to use wands or read the magic books.
Those on the dominating side of these events gained an unfair advantage over the individuals on the side of the dominated, which until this day has in a metaphorical sense led to the lagging behind of some of the runners on the race track.
For example, the first man to walk on the moon did this in 1969. At this point, the West African country of Nigeria was just 9 years into independence, while others such as Guinea Bissau and Seychelles where still under some form of European rule.
Another example falls in the period before 1865, where slavery was completely and officially abolished in the United States. Karl Marx had already published his ‘communist manifesto’ and even further back, the high pressured steam engine had been created. Yet during this period the blacks under the plague that was slavery were not permitted to read or write by most, if not all slaver owners.
Many believe that these facts about history do not matter in the discussion of the politics of this day. ‘It’s 2017’ they would like to say, ‘Slavery and colonisation where many, many years ago’ they would want to argue.
My response to those propositions is simple. If a Slytherin was given the power that was education with regards to how to use magic, while everyone else was prohibited for, let's say 50 years, from enjoying this previlege. Do you not believe that the Slytherin would take this chance to solidify their advantage?
During colonisation, goods and services that would have otherwise been traded with the European countries who, at that time where equals with their African counterparts, at least socially, where taken forcefully.
During slavery, black Americans and other minorities where deprived of their rights to basic human necessities. While others benefited from education and good homes, they had to deal with dehumanisation and its effects.
Fast forward to 2017 and many want to argue that we are now all on the same race track and therefore we should all leave the past where it belongs.
People are upset with the ‘Black Lives Matter’ campaign and get irritated with Africans blaming their European counterparts for the failures they experience in growth and development.
People want to ignore institutional racism and discredit it with crime statistics of members of the black community. They want to be able to refer to the countries in the global south as third world countries, but they don’t want to be held responsible for the fact that third world countries exist.
And it is because of this attitude that activists have become more intolerant. Discussions about cultural appropriation and the excluding of the previleged from the good parts of a minority’s daily life is simply the activist way of forcing an awareness of the disparities in perceptions about identities.
Do you think that if the Kardashians cared about black culture for reasons that were more than superficial they wouldn’t have been more accepted by the community than they are now.
The lives of Blacks, Africans and many other minorities have been put at a disadvantage, and for many years demands have been made to change this. Demands that have, for the most part, fallen on deaf ears.
Minorities have, over and over again, lost out on a lot in this game of life, but they have patiently waited for the time to come where their identities are recognised and an active acknowledgement and rectification is made of the things that were done to put them at a disadvantage.
However, instead of this, they go through more belittling experiences and have to deal with society asking tongue in cheek questions about why it is so hard for them to succeed.
At this point, it is no surprise that minorities have reached their limit with regards to patience and have decided to change things themselves.
Therefore if you a really are in support of the change that minorities are pushing to create, your job is not to criticise how the minorities do this, but help them share their message and help them make the right decisions instead.
Fighting minorities over words they have decided they do not want to tolerate anymore, or attitudes they have decided they will not allow anymore is just your own modern way of resisting the change they are trying to create and that puts you on the wrong side of history.
You do not have to understand everything about a movement for equality, because you honestly cannot understand something completely unless you go through it. You just have to understand that it is a movement for equality which is not going to harm you in anyway and that you do more for society in general by supporting it, rather than getting in the way.
Because, let’s all be honest, a society where identities are politically and economically equal has a better chance at achieving growth and development. Whilst racism, sexism, and xenophobia just allow room for economically damaging consequences.🔷