Sunday, April 8, 2018

I've been

trying to figure out how to think about "identity" for a long long time. (and still am)

I ran across this quote from Patricia Hill Collins that makes it make better sense to me. She wrote:
Intersectionality has attracted  substantial  scholarly  attention  in the 1990s. Rather than examining  gender, race, class, and nation as distinctive social hierarchies, intersectionality examines  how they mutually construct  one another. 
A couple of years ago I was sort of stunned by reading the statement that there has never existed a woman in the U.S. who wasn't also assigned a race...or a man either nor has anyone, of any "race", who wasn't also assigned to the category of either woman or man. It's impossible to separate them. I'd never thought about race/sex that way...but the truth of it struck me immediately.

Dr. Collins' writing expands on and fills that idea out. The key operation here, I think, is the notion of mutual construction. Our "identity" is a project of mutual construction and thinking about it (them) without this in mind is misleading. No one floats around who is "just" their class or "just" their race or or or. There is no "just"...all these factors occur simultaneously and constantly.

But...thinking that way is really hard (for me anyway)...it's so appealing to thing about one thing at a time...it's also misleading as hell.

The English language is rather poor at assisting us in considering stuff like this. I'm beginning to think that's not totally accidental. The language itself works to make this invisible...or at least really really hard to comprehend and think about.

English is a language created by and maintained by western European white men and those are the folks who brought us the abomination of colonization. It would make sense for their language to make it hard to think about systems that support awfulness that 'benefits' white men. White men couldn't see themselves as "good people" if they thought what they were doing was bad...so...a language they created would, of course, make talking/thinking about this stuff really difficult and misleading.

In case you're wondering what in hell this has to do with veganism, it was those same white men (back in the "enlightenment") who came up with the idea of "race" and they also came up with the notions of "human" and "animal" and that somehow "humans" are superior to "animals".

All the systems of oppression are connected and mutually constructed.

Our "identity" serves to locate our position(s) in power hierarchies (systems of oppression) and our place in those hierarchies determines (or at least profoundly influences) how human society values us and interacts with us. (note: identity would include not only such categories like race, sex, gender, class and such but also species.)

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