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  • Writer's pictureTaylor McNallie

Identity Politics

When Black people bring up their concerns, frustrations, or anger around intercommunal issues and struggles, it’s usually reduced to things like "identity politics"; a rebuttal made by white people and nonBlack POC to new information they’ve been provided, then actively and consciously making a choice to continue participating in harm. The kicker? The term "identity politics" was coined by a Black woman. The audacity remains high. Identity politics generally refers to the discussion of issues pertaining to one’s identity and provides a general understanding of how we can, and should, acknowledge and respect one another’s values, beliefs, and traditions. It also allows us to explore our intersectionalities so we can examine our privileges. None of this should be a bad thing. However, it’s often used to shut Black people down when we begin to discuss the ways our values, beliefs, traditions, and - quick frankly - our lives continue to be disrespected and overlooked.

The derogatory use of "identity politics" feels so much like saying "I don’t see color," because you’re refusing to acknowledge the way white supremacy impacts us differently due to antiBlack racism and the ways in which you uphold it, continuing to center whiteness in the process. Teaching you how to treat us better is not "identity politics." Teaching you how to treat us better is an opportunity for you to do something differently so we can actually be in solidarity with one another.

If you still don’t acknowledge or understand that antiBlackness is at the root of white supremacy, I’m sorry to tell you that whatever work you’ve done to "become anti-racist" is not working.

Yes, antiBlackness is more than just words, more than just an individual experience; it is a carefully designed and deeply rooted system that is weaved through generations while existing in a white supremacist society. These conditions then, in turn, make an individual experience into a collective one. Race was the construct created to justify colonization and enslavement, and the color of our skin determined our place in the equation. That is the base of antiBlackness and everything we know today was built on this foundation, which means our identities are relevant in absolutely every conversation.

It never seems to be the "right time" to discuss our experiences which are based on our identities and the ways we are impacted. Black people seem to be expected to sit around and wait for the world to "listen and learn" while we continue to be criminalized, colonized, murdered and enslaved.

So when is the right time for you?

Asking for myself and millions of others. The amount of labor Black people need to do to be seen, heard, recognized in exhausting. We are beyond tired. Over and over again this world shows us in all ways possible that Black lives do not matter while being expected to carry ours and everyone else’s pain on our backs. We are forever expected to see the humanity in others while never seeing a sliver of humanity in return. All of this is political.


"Taylor McNallie dedicates her time to seeking racial justice and collective liberation through education and hands-on work with both marginalized communities and accomplices alike. As the co-creator of Inclusive Canada, she provides education on anti-racism, white supremacy, and anti-Blackness. She is also a member of the Walls Down Collective which provides access to no-barrier resources and care such as Harm Reduction, free food programs and an alternative to local policing."

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