Identity politics—the formation of exclusive alliances based on racial, religious, ethnic, or social identity—is manifesting in all cultural corners. It has seeped into school curricula and overtaken traditional Western individualism as the new dominant lens for interpreting one’s place in society.
Entire university departments have been rededicated to examining so-called intersectionality, defined as the complex way in which the effects of multiple forms of discrimination, such as racism, sexism, and classism, combine to determine individual experience. As even Homer gets nixed from curricula, the traditional study of humanities has been rededicated to parsing out layers of oppression.
The purpose of this identity obsession has some noble intentions at its foundation: highlighting the roots of disparities and fostering a sense of community, to name a few. Drawing attention to the interests of historically excluded groups initially had the attention of promoting inclusion, but, in its current iteration, identity politics does just the opposite.
This way of thinking encourages young people to form a sense of self based on immutable characteristics rather than content of character. As critical race theory and other divisive rhetoric creeps into curricula and reaches our children, it teaches them to recognize difference at the expense of common humanity.
Our present education system insists on separating students into so-called affinity groups to discuss issues of race, class, or gender with peers with similar backgrounds. Student clubs have trended away from interest-based associations to group identity-based ones. Entire floors of dorms are being reserved for specific racial groups. Columbia University will even host six separate graduation ceremonies this year based on race, income, and sexual orientation.
The message that all of this sends is very clear: only people with similar backgrounds to your own are capable of understanding your viewpoints and experiences. Identity politics builds barriers at points of interpersonal difference, preventing the discovery of common ground. It fundamentally undermines the noble ideal of diversity, instead promoting a neo-segregationist tendency.
By fostering this intense obsession with group identity over individuality, our society is failing its children. Intersectionality reduces their sense of selves to mere points on a Venn diagram of group oppression. By insisting that immutable disadvantages are insurmountable, identity politics eradicates any sense of personal agency and effectively crushes hope at its source.
Many of us know at our cores that this obsession with identity will only lead to regression, and we recognize its detrimental effects on our children and society at large. As powerful institutions from academia to corporations promote divisiveness, fighting back can be daunting, but it must be done to defend individualism—the very cornerstone of a free society.
There may be a glimmer of hope for overcoming this cultural obsession with identity. As Jordan Peterson points out, the study of intersectionality in and of itself is an admission of the logical fault of identity politics. “There are so many different ways of categorizing people’s advantages and disadvantages,” he argues, “If you take it out to the end, the individual is the ultimate minority. The logical conclusion of intersectionality is individuality.”
Despite its proliferation, the fault of identity politics is startlingly obvious. Human beings are far too complex to be infinitely segregated into special interest categories. The true source of identity is not the affinity group—rather, it is the self. But the radical left refuses to acknowledge this sacred truth. They are merely interested in pushing forth their agenda by swallowing the sanctity of the individual up in the crowds of affinity groups.
Identity politics is destroying the social fabric. The only route to reclaiming our future is the realization that individualism is the bedrock of freedom. We must wake up and reclaim our sacred right to self-determination before identity politics has succeeded in its ultimate goal: to divide and conquer.
Rikki Schlott is a writer and student based in New York City. As a young free speech activist, her writing chronicles the rise of illiberalism from a Generation Z perspective. Schlott also works for The Megyn Kelly Show and has been published by The Daily Wire and The Conservative Review.