The Cannibalizing Nature of Group Identity Politics

We were created to be seen, heard and understood as individuals, yet are constantly being shuffled off in to groups with predetermined character traits. Women you belong here with the victimized, white males stand over there under the racist/sexist flag and minorities you’re in with the permanently aggrieved, government is your savior crowd. And oh, hey you gays, get in line over there with the rest of the sexually promiscuous crew.

It sounds so stupid, doesn’t it? Isn’t making assumptions about people based on their gender, skin color or sexual orientation the very definition of stereotyping and something to avoid? Apparently not according to Boston University’s Professor Saida Grundy, whose racist Twitter rants against white males have recently come to light.

         why is white america so reluctant to identify white college males                                    as a problem population?”

         “White masculinity isn’t a problem for america’s colleges, white                                        masculinity is THE problem for america’s colleges.”

        “Deal with your white sh*t, white people. slavery is a *YALL* thing”

Oh and she also exploded on a rape victim because she was white and told her to “go cry somewhere” during a nasty on line exchange. Classy huh?

Fortunately this is an extreme case and Ms. Grundy is being widely denounced, although still employed at BU. I’m not calling for her to lose her job but does anyone doubt this would be the outcome if she were a white woman railing against blacks?

Politicians are masters at this sort of thing, playing off stereotypes for votes by pitting groups against one another. Much chaos then ensues, which cues the candidate to feign surprise at how divided and mean spirited the country is and to lecture us on how to behave. Gee thanks.

Identity politics have been around since at least the 1970s, but the explosion of social media and the prevalence of victimhood mentality syndrome has brought it back with a vengeance.  As it increases, the country becomes more tribal and divided and people become less inclined to take ownership of their problems as they subconsciously get filed away under “it’s someone else’s fault”.

What disheartens me most though is the shrinking importance and value of the individual experience.  As the demands of group identification become more militant, the special qualities a person has, those traits that make them who they are, get discarded and a label is formed; one that defines how they are supposed to think, what they are allowed to say and who they are supposed to vote for.  Saida Grundy’s devaluation of a rape victim’s experience because she is white is a classic example of this.

Everyone was born for a purpose and equipped with the specific skills and personality to fulfill it, As you move through life, your experiences add layer upon layer to this uniqueness, which provides perspectives, opinions and ideas that only could come from you.  No one has been through what you have, or thinks the way you do, nor can create what you create.  This is what defines you, not your gender, race or sexual orientation.

Have you ever been in the presence of someone completely in the flow of doing exactly what they were put on this planet to do? A flamenco guitarist strumming away as if possessed, an athlete effortlessly knocking balls out of the park, a caregiver tenderly wiping the face of a dying loved one, a child discovering their artistic talents for the first time?

It’s a complete celebration of a person’s uniqueness mixed with God given talent and is one of the most beautiful experiences imaginable. We should be fostering this individuality and encourage its growth, not smothering it under the stagnant weight of group identity manipulation.

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33 Responses to The Cannibalizing Nature of Group Identity Politics

  1. I think this is a very complex issue. When people put themselves in groups, it could be for a desire to feel connected with others or to gain security in the knowledge that like-minded people are going to back them. When people put others into groups, it may be that they need everyone to fit into a specific box so that the world makes sense to them. You know, like how we have to categorize everything: animals, rocks, plants, stars… anything and everything you can think of is made to fit under a particular label. Obviously, there’s a lot more to it than what I just said, but I think you get my point.

    I feel like when a person of one race attacks a person of another, there’s something underneath that, an anger and/or a fear that the attacker has no awareness of. When you lose sight of the things that drive you, you become driven by those things, which is how a person can be blind to the truth. They don’t ask why they’re supposed to hate someone because of the color of their skin, they simply go along with it. That’s why therapy sessions involve going beneath the surface, looking at causes of behavior.

    And of course, when you have politicians or anyone who has something to gain from dividing people, they can really fan the flames and make it all the more difficult to even attempt to talk sense into people. It’s not until an individual recognizes what they’re doing and admits it to themselves that there’s an opportunity for the person to change. The first step toward fixing a problem is admitting there’s a problem. Unfortunately, people tend not to see group-think as a problem as long as they have a group that shares their same mindset.

    Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think it’s harmful for people to form groups and communities, but when you take it so far that you’re looking down on other groups, that’s when a problem can develop. And you’re right that bringing up the individual mind of a person and fostering a healthy sense of self-security would go a long way toward helping that person to discover not only their own beauty, but the beauty in other people, different people, as well.

    Anyway, that’s my brief opinion, or as brief as I could make it. I very much enjoyed reading your post. You have a remarkable sense of things. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Tricia says:

      Hey Gabriel, thanks so much for your thoughtful comments, they are always welcome here. I totally agree that there is nothing wrong with joining groups of like minded people, especially if you feel somehow different from others, there can be great comfort in finding “your peeps”. 😉 Where it gets dangerous, and what inevitably happens whenever an opening for manipulation arises, is when politics get mixed in and people, like you said, start fanning flames and group think takes over for common sense and the individual gets lost.

      And it IS complicated, you’re right! Thx for coming by. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Amazing post Tricia. I really commend you for tackling this hot topic. Labelling has always been around. I was labelled as a country hick when I went to a city high school, and experienced some abuse.
    Looking back, it was very mild compared to what goes on today. We are definitely losing the “individually”, that everyone is very special for who they are.
    Thank you for sharing! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Denyse Laird says:

    As usual , well written and expressed. I agree with you and.perhaps, that is why I prefer having a small number of friends with whom I can agree or disagree and still remain friends. As a rule, I do not like crowds which in most instances bring out the worst in human behavior. Keep posting, I always enjoy reading what you post.Thank you TRICIA BUTLER.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. archaeopteryx1 says:

    I know full well that CS will not allow this link to be posted to you, and personally, I don’t really care if you post it or not, I only want to communicate to you that there are other residents of the South who feel as I do. This gentleman, Neil Carter, a former Christian, has lived his entire life in the American South, and his beliefs are not that different than mine:

    I have personally witnessed redistricting in my state, that breaks up blocks of Blacks and Hispanics, so that in each of the new districts, White voters are in the majority – tell me that that isn’t a subtle form of prejudice –i


    • Tricia says:

      Arch of course there are awful people who live in the South as there are who live out West and in every other state and nation in the world. That doesn’t mean they represent the majority, you know that. And why would you assume to know anything about me or where I’ve lived and the people I know? People are individuals made up of their own unique experiences and traits. To lump them all in to your favorite bigoted group is neither fair nor accurate.

      By the way re districting is quite common. Out here it’s done by Democrats who herd minorities in to what they hope are winnable voting blocks based entirely on their skin color. Sounds more than a bit racist to me.

      Ok, apologies again CS for going off topic in comments. I can’t seem to help myself but will stop now…;)

      Liked by 1 person

      • ColorStorm says:

        Ha, Tricia!
        It’s your house, your party, pass the chips, 😉

        Geez, maybe your friend here never heard of the antics of Mr. Rev. Jackson, or Sharpton, who enjoys the baiting to promote an agenda………… you say, there is plenty of blame to go around.

        Tkx though friend, for taking on a tenant 😉

        Liked by 1 person

      • archaeopteryx1 says:

        why would you assume to know anything about me or where I’ve lived and the people I know?” – I don’t – my comment was not about you, but about America’s Southern states.


    • Tricia says:

      Whoops, I was confused,thought we were still on CS blog. For Arch, your comment to me….”Maybe you should spend some time out of a White-Bread existence, and get to know some Blacks, Jews and Gays, and ask them how wonderful their new lives are.”


      • archaeopteryx1 says:

        There’s no need to “pass me on” to anyone – I came on your site for one purpose, to give you the link of a former Christian in America’s South, who probably would not agree with your assessment of that area. I’ve done that.


  5. La Sabrosona says:

    I almost always need a fan when I come here…gets heated here no? I wanted to comment on the individual aspect of things. Since I don’t follow politics I often invest my energy into observing behaviour and analyzing it. I’ve noticed that to have ‘integrity’ can be a very fluid experience. Most people shape-shift their beliefs and behaviour in order to “survive”. I know I have done it. I like to see it as goal-oriented – whether in personal or political matters – one will do whatever is necessary to get the job done, to reach the goal, to succeed.

    The level of manipulation varies from group to group and from individual to individual depending on what job needs to get done – what goal needs to be accomplished. I don’t think anyone should be complacent and just accept that everyone has her back. It’s a fine balance between being a part of a group, identifying with a group and asserting one’s individualism.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Tricia says:

      “Integrity can be a very fluid experience”‘ I really like that, it’s true! There is a lot of manipulation going on I think in any type of social grouping and you’re right, it’s important to watch for your own individualism and but also still identify with said group if that’s what you want. Fine line though of balance as you say.

      Fans huh? Maybe I should start offering them up as freebies for visitors….! 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      • La Sabrosona says:

        You totally should have a TW but instead of “trigger warning” it’d be “temperature warning” or “temper warning”. Like “Warning: Tempers have been known to heat up this space. Bring your own fan.” Haha “BYOF” party at Tricia’s.

        I just honestly think that any of us would change our beliefs if it meant survival.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. archaeopteryx1 says:

    You say good stuff!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Julie says:

    Speaking of group identity politics, I’ve been thinking we should do away with the party system and just let individuals run without party affiliation, backing and big money. With social media as rampant and accessible as it is, you don’t need a lot of money to get your ideas across – just a blog and a fb page. It would force the candidates to clearly articulate their specific ideas, it would force voters to know and evaluate those specific ideas for themselves. No more leaving it to others to think for you. No more team spirit and rivalries and hating people just because your team has deemed the enemy. (I realize there would be cyber-bullying of candidates and haters would eventually coalesce, but at least they would have to READ something in order to do so.)
    Just a roster of individuals putting forth solutions – and may the best ideas win.

    Liked by 1 person

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