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The Mental Self-Oppression of 'Intersectional' Racial Identity

There are plenty of problems with the culture of victimhood, but one of them is that when people start identifying themselves and others primarily as members of victim (or oppressor) groups, it doesn't stop there. What happens next is that the victim groups start being sorted out according to a perceived hierarchy of victimhood – which group's members are the bigger victims?

People who belong to multiple victim groups, moreover, set about claiming extra victim points (see “intersectionality”). And members of each victim group start splitting that group up into smaller groups, based on the premise that the group is actually, on further reflection, composed of several sub-groups, some of which are even more victimized than others.

Once begun, of course, this process has no natural end: the sub-groups split into sub-sub-groups and so on, so that eventually you arrive at the point where you're back to the individual. Only instead of having an individual identity based on your own distinctive virtues, failings, interests, personality traits, and so on, you've got an identity that's nothing but a checklist of all the groups you belong to – a checklist that determines your precise spot on the grievance ladder in relation to everybody else.

On August 2, a writer named Nico Dacumos ran a piece entitled “Should Light-Skinned People of Color Voluntarily Exclude Ourselves from People of Color Spaces?” His argument: “light-skinned or white-passing” people of color (POC) “get all the cool stuff that Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) get,” including “[r]ichly artistic cultures,” “[a]ncient and powerful cultural and spiritual practices,” and so on, without having to experience such POC problems as high rates of incarceration, extrajudicial murder, and low self-esteem.

Dacumos wants us to know that he, as a light-skinned person of color (LSPOC), is deeply sensitive to this problem and has given it extensive thought. His conclusion: LSPOC should not be “entitled to be in all BIPOC spaces all the time.” What exactly does he mean by BIPOC spaces? All he says by way of explanation is to speak (approvingly) of “BIPOC divest[ing] from white institutions and ways of being and [seeking] self-determination and independence instead.” Presumably he's talking about the kind of self-segregation practiced by college student groups that ban membership by, for example, whites or males. Obviously he thinks that's terrific.

Well, terrific for BIPOC, anyway. One thing he makes clear is that, as far as he's concerned, “it’s okay for BIPOC to gather but not okay for white people to form their own separate groups.”

Why? Because “when white people gather separately we end up with groups like the KKK, Stormfront and the Trump White House.” But it's only fair for “darker-skinned BIPOC” to “desire spaces where they can process and organize around the unique issues they face because of their closer proximities to Black and Indigenous skin tones and facial features.”