Group Identity Theory

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= this is the overall concept I have chosen to use to identity and discuss the new type of identity politics that expressed itself in the events at Evergreen State College in 2017, and which reduce people to their group identity within a intersectional framework (MB)

Contextual Quotes

1.

"Our concerns therefore start with the fact that this theoretical faith is deeply embedded in seemingly legitimate scholarship, contains within its own framework the impossibility of legitimate disagreement and is expanding beyond the problem of its systematic institutional incorporation in our institutions of higher education to wider society."

Helen Pluckrose and James A. Lindsay [1]


2.

"Over the two decades I’ve lived here, I watched a powerful Idea spread amongst my friends, family and institutions. As best as I can tell, it is a cocktail of Critical Race Theory, Intersectionality, Post Modernism and Identity Politics.

For the sake of brevity, let’s call it: The Ideology.

Here are some of the basic tenants of The Ideology:

  • Western society is primarily organized as a collection of dominance hierarchies.
  • Racism is hard-baked into society. It is unavoidable and present in every interaction to be discovered and called out. This is part of a systemic problem that is everywhere, always, and all-pervasive.
  • All white people are racist, and white people cannot be subjected to racism. If you are white and successful, it’s primarily because society is structured to bestow you with unearned privilege. If you are not white and not successful, it’s primarily because society is structured to keep you down.

I believe this Ideology was born from good intentions. It aims to create a socially just world. To honor and repair the wounds of our past. To include the disenfranchised, and marginalized. To call out and challenge systematic oppression, and take a stand for the dignity, access, and opportunity of all. I wholeheartedly share these intentions.

I’ve also come to see this way of thinking as problematic and dangerous. It is based in a flawed worldview, and it perpetuates the very problems it aims to address.

MY TRUE ADVANTAGE: Even though I am a brown, male, Arab immigrant, I have a huge advantage in life: I do not see the world through the lens of the Ideology. My parents didn’t raise me with the idea that the world is racist and setup against me. My friends and community did not train me to mistrust whiteness or any other color. My teachers did not sell me the idea of an invisible, pervasive force arraigned against me. In other words, I was not brought up with the lens of a victim.”

- Shereef Bishay [2]

Characteristics

  • Shereef Bishay:

"Here are some of the basic tenants of The Ideology:

  • Western society is primarily organized as a collection of dominance hierarchies.
  • Racism is hard-baked into society. It is unavoidable and present in every interaction to be discovered and called out. This is part of a systemic problem that is everywhere, always, and all-pervasive.
  • All white people are racist, and white people cannot be subjected to racism. If you are white and successful, it’s primarily because society is structured to bestow you with unearned privilege. If you are not white and not successful, it’s primarily because society is structured to keep you down."

(https://medium.com/@shereef/the-struggle-is-not-always-real-2029b622bd97)


The Three Key Ideas

by Helen Pluckrose and James A. Lindsay:

"Among the progenitors of these ideas, Robin DiAngelo’s White Fragility (and the academic paper that preceded it by seven years) is a particularly influential text within the discourse analysis branch of critical race theory. Set alongside Peggy MacIntosh’s White Privilege and Barbara Applebaum’s White Complicity, it closes the door on any possibility of arguing against a critical conception of society, as outlined in the confessional creed above. These ideas form a web of theory that understands society as being constructed by a pervasive racial bias, which needs to be continuously uncovered and addressed.

Together, these three ideas shut out the possibility of engaging this theoretical web in good faith unless one agrees with it. MacIntosh’s conception of privilege contains the idea that it always seeks to maintain and justify itself. Applebaum’s notion of complicity insists that remaining silent or stepping away when confronted with what these theoretical priests call racism is to be complicit in racism." (https://areomagazine.com/2019/01/20/the-influence-of-anti-racist-scholarship-activism-on-evergreen-college/)


Core Tenets of Anti-Racist Scholarship-Activism

by Helen Pluckrose and James A. Lindsay:

  • Racism exists today in both traditional and modern forms
  • Racism is an institutionalized, multilayered, multilevel system that distributes unequal power and resources between white people and people of color, as socially identified, and disproportionately benefits whites.
  • All members of society are socialized to participate in the system of racism, albeit in varied social locations.
  • All white people benefit from racism regardless of intentions.
  • No-one chose to be socialized into racism so no-one is bad, but no-one is neutral.
  • To not act against racism is to support racism.
  • Racism must be continually identified, analyzed and challenged. No-one is ever done.
  • The question is not Did racism take place? but rather How did racism manifest in that situation?
  • The racial status quo is comfortable for most whites. Therefore, anything that maintains white comfort is suspect.
  • The racially oppressed have a more intimate insight via experiential knowledge into the system of race than their racial oppressors. However, white professors will be seen as having more legitimacy, thus positionality must be intentionally engaged.
  • Resistance is a predictable reaction to anti-racist education and must be explicitly and strategically addressed.

These are the core tenets developed by scholar-activists Heather Bruce, Robin DiAngelo, Gyda Swaney (Salish) and Amie Thurber at the National Race and Pedagogy Conference at Puget Sound University." (https://areomagazine.com/2019/01/20/the-influence-of-anti-racist-scholarship-activism-on-evergreen-college/)


Discussion

Why this non-falsifiable theory is really a ideology

by Helen Pluckrose and James A. Lindsay:

"If disagreeing, remaining silent and going away are all behaviors which indicate fragility, complicity and privilege, it becomes clear that the only way for a white person not to be fragile or complicit around the subject of racism is to remain present and positively affirm the creed being offered by the hucksters professing this theoretical faith. Far from a benign doctrine of equality and justice, this requires them to agree to the assertion that, by virtue of their inherently privileged identities, their racial worldviews are inherently racist and uphold a system of racism. This is precisely what Nayna shows to have begun to be instituted at Evergreen college. For those who know the story, it was this ideology posing as theory that led to the bizarre and frightening group behavior that came to a dangerous peak after Professor Weinstein objected to a day of racial segregation.

Are DiAngelo and other academics focused on these concepts of problematic whiteness correct about this? Is society in general and Evergreen College in particular dominated by systems of racism, which disadvantage people of color? Are white people who feel very sure they are not harboring deep-rooted racial assumptions they need to dig out of themselves and reflect about publicly (including on their self-evaluations to be further evaluated by university administrators) simply being obstructive due to a need to preserve their own sense of themselves as good, moral people? Do they support racism by failing to divine its presence in every interaction between white people and people of color and within themselves? Must their resistance be countered rigorously with insistence? With anger? With punishment? With violence? All of those responses appear in Nayna’s documentary, and far from being collegiate, these are profoundly fundamentalist attitudes, which have more in common with the behaviors of the infamous Westboro Baptist Church (which infamously protested military funerals as a way of standing against gay rights) than with a liberal higher education—or education at all, for that matter." ((https://areomagazine.com/2019/03/15/teaching-to-transgress-rage-and-entitlement-at-evergreen-college/?))