The Obama presidency was supposed herald a new post-racial America. An author explains why that will never happen
Will we ever see the end of identity politics? In 2004, headlines heralded the end of race as we know it. Since Barack Obama was elected in the United States, much has been made of our new, supposedly post-racial society. But in recent years, we’ve also seen the rise of a new form of right-wing identity politics led by conservatives like Glenn Beck and neo-feminist Sarah Palin. The truth is — as Beck’s claims of “reverse racism,” the vehemence of the birthers, and the continued movement against gay marriage prove — the politics of identity are still as important as ever.
In “Who Are We – And Should It Matter in the 21st Century?” Guardian columnist Gary Younge argues that, instead of pretending that we’re all the same, we should embrace the value of difference. As he looks at everything from the “wise Latina” backlash during the confirmation hearings of Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor to “The American Directory of Certified Uncle Toms,” a controversial book arguing that W.E.B. DuBois wasn’t sufficiently “black,” Younge encourages readers to recognize the continuing importance of who we are in a rapidly globalized world. The dream of a uniform human race isn’t plausible, he believes, or even ideal.
Salon spoke to Younge about which identities still matter, what Hillary Clinton supporters got wrong, and why affirmative action might do more harm than good.
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