I appreciate your intellectual negotiation of this issue. I would underline a few issues:
- First of all, white supremacy is the original identity politic, at least with regard to the last few centuries on planet Earth. Thus, when we state that POC are participating in identity politics — with the implication that white people are tolerating our invented distraction of identity politics — we also refuse to acknowledge, at some level, that history exists: that identity politics as we know them were established by Europeans when they invented ‘whiteness’ for the purposes of dominance. That they are suddenly kicking and screaming about it after centuries of pretending it isn’t there is yet another defensive attempt at maintaining power.
2. I can appreciate the general stance that the master’s tools cannot dismantle the master’s house. BUT the implication that participating in identity politics was primarily instituted by POC is absurd, and it is the stance that the majority of white people take as a matter of self-deception. Identity politics as we know them, for POC, is a way to obtain anything vaguely resembling equal opportunity AFTER the fascism of white supremacy originally established identity politics as a way to exclude most peoples. There is no need to discuss white privilege if whites, as a group, hadn’t grossly over-privileged themselves and, as a way of maintaining it, continue to lie to themselves about the fact that the past is relevant, framing it as ‘over.’
Part of this lie is to frame the POC response to aggressive fascist behaviors as primary, thus allowing whites as a group to absolve themselves by denying that they are the primary, original identity politic and are now dealing with the consequences of NOT ONLY their ancestors’ previous behaviors BUT ALSO their current privileging, which has resulted from PAST behaviors. This indicates that the past DOES MATTER.
3. With all due respect, whether or not you care about the way in which white people behaved in the past doesn’t change the fact that these historical behaviors still have significant deleterious impact, IN OUR CURRENT TIMES, to POC peoples. Thus, pretending the past and the past behaviors don’t matter also refuses that those past behaviors still impact current sociopolitical realities.
We are still a white supremacist society, currently, BECAUSE we were a white supremacist in the last few centuries, BECAUSE Europeans — who called themselves ‘white’ — established a dominant worldwide fascism. Not caring about the past = not caring about the present. We aren’t severed from the past, and neither is our context. Our context still favors whiteness.
4.Of course people should perceive themselves as individuals, as you point out cogently with regard to Fanon. However, Fanon was deeply aware of white supremacy and the fact that it needs to be acknowledged, and this is expressed repeatedly in his writing. He believed BOTH. These are not mutually exclusive concepts: BBI peoples can be aware of our import as individuals and still address the despicable white supremacist institutions that continue to derogate us.
We can have both: attention to our individuality AND attention to identity politics. BOTH are highly relevant, and both will be needed to dismantle a still very white supremacist society, which is the way it is due to very relevant historical behaviors which shouldn’t be subjected to disregard.