Category Archives: Recommended Reading

Little Sister (303)

6Set me as a seal upon thine heart, as a seal upon thine arm: for love is strong as death; jealousy is cruel as the grave: the coals thereof are coals of fire, which hath a most vehement flame.

7Many waters cannot quench love, neither can the floods drown it: if a man would give all the substance of his house for love, it would utterly be contemned.

8We have a little sister, and she hath no breasts: what shall we do for our sister in the day when she shall be spoken for?

9If she be a wall, we will build upon her a palace of silver: and if she be a door, we will inclose her with boards of cedar.


Walter Benn Michaels interviewed on the 10th anniversary of The Trouble With Diversity:

As racism and antidiscrimination have become more central to the moral compass of the country, what you get is an increasing number of white people who are committed and convinced that they’re the victims of racism. Among Republicans, it’s something like the majority of them who think they’re the primary victims of racism. There are two ways to look at that. One is that it’s not true. Let me be clear, I know perfectly fucking well that white people are not the victims of racism. They’re not the primary, secondary, or even the tertiary victims of racism. But in a world where racism is a central issue, people begin to understand their own genuine victimization through that lens.

White people are indeed victimized—they’re the largest group of poor people, the largest group of people on welfare, and group below the poverty level in this country. Those people begin to think, yeah, racism is the problem. That’s why what we’ve seen emerge during this Trump campaign is a white identity politics, in which white people go around thinking of themselves as aggrieved, as victims—not because of black people’s prejudice against them but rather the government’s, which prefers other groups. It’s a mistaken view, but a standard view. But then the response on the so-called left is just to go, “Racists!” That doesn’t change people’s minds. You’re not trying to organize them, you’re just scapegoating. Scapegoating people is a bad idea when they’re in the majority and you’re in the minority. It’s one thing if you’re scapegoating 10 percent of the population, but you’re scapegoating a very large part of the population. So as an electoral policy, it doesn’t seem wise.


I’m … Her

Not Us, Me

Identity politics weaponizes the feeling that one has to hold on to what is in them more than themselves. It highlights one specific feature out of a given set of demographic features, turning this feature from a base to be defended into a launcher for new attacks. Weaponized identity politics lets me insist that this time I will not be sacrificed, I will survive. Even more, it helps assuage some of the guilt of the privileged — they are on the correct side of history, for once. The added bonus of weaponized identity politics is how the privileged can use it against each other even as they leave communicative capitalism’s basic structure intact. We see this when we look at the arsenal of identities — sex, race, gender, sexuality, ability, ethnicity, religion, citizenship — and recognize what is missing: class.

The identities from which one can speak rely on the exclusion of class. On the one hand, the assumption is that class means white. Yet prevalent within the discourse of identity politics are accounts of the racialization of poverty, the feminization of work, important accounts that recognize and analyze the fact that class in the contemporary United States does not mean or signify white at all. What, then, is behind the attachment to identity that not only refuses to consider the impact of economic inequality on the election but that responds to any discussion of economics as if it were premised on an underlying racism?