Is identity a necessary step on the way to Humanism?

This is a question that has been weighing on me for some time.  And I think we need to think about identity politics in a different way. Specifically - we need to eliminate the politics from it - if possible.

I realize this is a very difficult issue and may upset people - because - our identity is central to who we are as people and there are LOTS of people who deny our existence and identity. When our existence is denied - we are harmed, materially and physically.  This is not a minor matter.

But - even as we deal with inequities and discrimination - shouldn't we also keep our eye on our ultimate goal?  Racially transcendent Humanism?

And I say that being fully aware of how not racially transcendent movement Humanism is. For a LONG time - it's been a rich white person's philosophic movement. Heck - most people don't even acknowledge that there are humanist traditions that arose before the white western form that is the hallmark of western humanism. I personally cannot conceive of a Humanism that isn't racially transcendent. If it's not racially transcendent - it's not Humanism. The question is ... how do we get there from here?

Back in 2016 - during the election - there was a lot of discussion and research on exactly why white people voted for Trump and not Hillary. This article was published just before the 2016 election -  It discusses the identity politics through the years and how poor people are used and abused by the political process - which is largely - a marketing process.

Marketing - requires segmentation to create messages that resonate. And thus - we are chopped up - instead of unified.

The article caught my interest as the author specifically discusses the importance of Humanism.

Section on Humanism

I recently spoke with the social scientist Glenn Loury, who teaches at Brown University. As he sees it, if race becomes an irreducible category in politics, rather than being incorporated into universal claims of justice, it’s a weapon that can be picked up and used by anyone. “Better watch out,” he said. “I don’t know how you live by the identity-politics sword and don’t die by it.” Its logic lumps everyone—including soon-to-be-minority whites—into an interest group. One person’s nationalism intensifies tribal feelings in others, in what feels like a zero-sum game. “I really don’t know how you ask white people not to be white in the world we’re creating,” Loury said. “How are there not white interests in a world where there are these other interests?” He continued, “My answer is that we not lose sight of the goal of racially transcendent humanism being the American bedrock. It’s the abandonment of this goal that I’m objecting to.
This is what got me thinking:

Is identity a necessary step on the way to Humanism/cosmopolitianism? It is very common to read about this journey. Ta Nahesi Coates for instance – had to claim his black identity before he could see clearly the identity of others so that he could become cosmopolitan. 

People do this journey with religion. They have to define themselves as unique, before they can see others as truly human too.

If this is the case – perhaps this white identity politics we are hearing about is less about racism and more about people figuring out who they are so that they can recognize others. If you have no sense of self – other people are a threat. Develop a sense of self – it is easier to see others as distinct from you – which for me is central to my practice. Other people aren’t me!  That doesn’t make them bad.

This is about maturity. And yes, not everyone will get to cosmopolitanism. People take detours into very dark places. The men’s rights movement for instance. But doesn’t that mean those of us already through the journey as Humanists, need to create the paths that lead through identity into Humanism?  

Instead of saying, the path you are on won’t lead you to humanism. Do we need to create  - a white path and a black path and a Mormon path, a Hindi path, etc – to Humanism?

If we want people to recognize each other as Human, do we first need to help them recognize and respect themselves as unique human that matter first? I think so.

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