How the Powerful Took Over Identity Politics (and Everything Else)
Olufemi O. Taiwo
This is a short, accessible and incredibly useful book about how political movements fall apart or lose their meaning because of influence of the powers that be, as elites co-opt and disarm ideas that go against their interests. Seemingly well-intentioned practices (such as identity politics and providing deference to marginalized and exploited group members) feel less like they’re making things better and more like they are missing something fundamental: a real chance to make the system of oppression less oppressive. It turns out that in addition to capturing resources and wealth, elites also capture our conversations, using the influence they have over everything to change the common ground. Táíwò consistently reminds us that the point isn’t to call out individuals, but to change systems. I really liked his exploration of the metaphor of “the room,” as in “reading the room.” ‘History has built the rooms around us; we find ourselves in places, and with people, resources, and incentives, that we did not choose.’ And while it’s not pointless per se to criticize the composition of those within the room, it can keep us from doing the much harder work of… building new rooms. “We need to focus on building and rebuilding rooms, not on regulating traffic within and between them.” 120 pages of straight fire that really helped things click for me.
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- Publisher Description
A powerful indictment of the ways elites have co-opted radical critiques of racial capitalism to serve their own ends. (Publisher’s Description)
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