If you’re telling me solidarity means to forget my discomfort and experiences with privileged folk, or that privileged folk have a right to speak over the experiences of marginalized ones, or have just as much say in their marginalization, then I’m not interested in solidarity.
If you’re telling me solidarity means to forget my culture, my identity, what makes who I am because it is “divisive” (read-challenging, foreign, hard to swallow, strange, uncomfortable), then I’m not interested in solidarity.
I know so many leftists and progressives that get uncomfortable and try to belittle what they just call “identity politics”. Even though I understand and agree with many critiques of it, there is no throwing it away or dismissing it as a whole.
I’ve been told some really DISGUSTING things by those alleged intelligent, progressive folk who just don’t want to be challenged or check their privilege. They can’t see how important ID politics are to seeing how each person is oppressed or marginalized in any given point or situation in their lives. Our personal history DOES matter. How even if we didn’t ask for the privileges or oppressions that we have, they DO mean something in terms of our places in oppressive systems and what we can or cannot say on them.
We can simultaneously have solidarity while recognizing privilege and oppression, while confirming and recognizing people’s identities, and letting those things dictate actions a group takes together. It does not mean “DIVIDE THE MOVEMENT BY COLOR/RACIAL/GENDER/ABILITY/CLASS POSITION/etc” (though people wanting and needing safe spaces or to have movements based on their marginalization is COMPLETELY OK AND NO ONE WITH PRIVILEGE HAS A RIGHT TO SPIT ON OR QUESTION THAT). It means “RECOGNIZE people’s differences mean something in terms of their experiences and how they’ve been oppressed by different systems.” That way, you can better pinpoint and address the ways people have been hurt.
To erase those differences means to turn everyone into a default mode, that being of a straight, cis, heterosexual, able-bodied, middle class white man. That is NOT an identity I can relate to in the least, so how does that work?
- Briana Urena-Ravelo, Lebanese Poppy Seed