Fight for Equality

Adrian Payumo
5 min readFeb 8, 2021
Identity Politics Illustration (Duke University, n.d.)

Identity Politics

It has come to mean a vast range of political activities and theorizing based on widespread views of injustice by members of some social groups. Rather than assembling strictly around value systems, programmatic manifestos or party affiliations, identity-policy formations aim to guarantee the political independence of a particular electoral district disadvantaged within a larger framework. Members of that electoral district shall announce or resume ways of understanding their distinctiveness that oppose the prevalent characterizations with a view to greater self-determination. To simply put identity politics are people of a particular race, ethnicity, gender, or religion form alliances and organize politically to defend their group’s interests. Fighting for their rights in this world full of diversity or just to be seen and heard as part of the society though there are people against their interest because it is not the “norm”. This will not stop them to be treated equally.

How did identity politics emerge?

Martin Luther King Jr preaching at an event in Washington DC (Keystone USA, n.d.).

The second half of the twentieth century saw the emergence of large-scale democratic protests — Second Wave Feminism, Black Civil Rights in the U.S., gay and lesbian liberation, and American Indian movements, for example — based on concerns about inequality of particular social groups. These social movements are underpinned and fostered by an academic body of literature that is concerned with the nature, history, and future of the identity retained. Identity politics as a type of organization is directly related to the assumption that certain social groups are oppressed; that is, that one’s identity as a feminist or as an African American, for example, renders one particularly vulnerable to cultural hegemony (including stereotyping, erasing, or redistribution of one’s identity as a group), aggression, coercion, marginalization, or powerlessness (Young 1990). Identity reform begins with an analysis of some forms of social disparities, suggesting, in several ways, the re-establishment, re-description, or transformation of formerly stigmatized group membership profiles. Instead of adopting the deceptive scripts provided by a patriarchal community about one’s inferiority, one changes one’s sense of self and community. For example, the Combahee River Group, in their statement on the Black Feminist Identity Agenda, argued that:

“As women, we understood that we were different from men and that we were viewed differently — for example, as we were told in the same breath to be quiet both for the sake of being ‘ladylike’ and to make us less disrespectful in the presence of white people. In the process of consciousness-raising, essentially life-sharing, we began to realize the commonality of our challenges and, through sharing and empathy, to create a plan that would change our lives and ultimately put an end to our oppression.”

Has identity politics gone too far?

Black Lives Matter (St Mary’s Catholic School, 2015)

“Identity politics” is a very vague term, but it typically refers to the discourse and politicization of issues that are important to one’s own, culture, identity. The emphasis is generally on women, national minorities, immigrants, LGBTQ people, and religious minorities, such as Muslim Americans. All the social problems that you might have heard about in the past few years — same-sex marriages, cops killing innocent black men, transgender women in the bathroom, gender fluidity, rape culture controversies, campus battles for safe spaces, and warnings — are typically the sort of issues that people mean as they talk of identity politics. There is another aspect of identity politics that you’ve heard little about in the US, particularly white identity. This is by definition an identity, but it is one that is so commonly considered to be the standard in America that problems relating to white identity are not typically regarded as identity politics.

It is important to understand this in order to understand how identity politics works. It is a two-sided debate: one side tries to preserve a status quo that has historically preserved the white identity that many white, straight, cisgender (non-trans) Christian Americans identify with. The other side aims to create an opportunity for other cultures to be more broadly accepted in mainstream America: black women, Latino immigrants, LGBTQ community, and Muslim Americans, to name a few.

Notably, this debate is not new. Although the term “identity policy” has risen to prominence in the last few years, it is a broader national discussion that has been going on since the country was created. Any single step in ending systemic racism from the abolition of apartheid to the civil rights movement and Black Lives Matter was and is part of what is today known as identity politics. This historic push-and-pull has always been at the forefront of politics in the US, causing the country to set up a strange system in which we elect our presidents, fighting a civil war, passing the first federal anti-terrorism statute to combat the KKK, and taking 220 years to elect the first black president.

As a person born in the United States and part of the minority group, I am disappointed with what is happening in the US because there are a lot of disputes about this and the “white people” are putting a big deal on this. They do not understand that the people on these groups are just fighting to have equal rights to what they are already experiencing. The thing they do not understand is that US was a diverse country since before, it was just corrupted by white supremacy that it came to having inequality. I do not think identity politics has gone too far because they are just having peaceful protest for their voices to be heard there are just certain groups that makes these things violent. I agree with the groups fighting in the peaceful manner because without action the government and the society will continue to disapprove their beliefs. Here in the Philippines, identity politics has been prevalent through the years. A huge percent are taken part in protests are students. I do not blame people on not wanting to take part against politics but being silent on these times as what they say is just the same as being against the cause they are fighting about. I encourage to at least support these groups in social media to reach a wider audience and educate them of their ideologies.

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