The atypical usage of the term “identity politics” can be very strange. To many people of color, it’s a confusing term because while our identities have been politicized since the days of the Transatlantic slave trade, matters of our existence and equality aren’t political.
Yet, identity politics is a term mainly propagated by White folks of all political stripes because in reality, our incursion to them is mainly an issue of politics. That’s how professional sports leagues such as the NFL, the NBA, and the WNBA can issue press releases claiming they’d prefer for their athletes not to bring “political” issues to games. In America, to simply state that “Black Lives Matter” is considered making a political statement, one that actually can be up for debate. It is in that spirit that racism and xenophobia is framed as a political ideology instead of what it truly is, an affront to basic human dignity.
When racism is equated as politics, it becomes easy to frame racists as those who simply lie on the other side of the ideological aisle and innocently label Neo-Nazis as the alt-right political party. It then becomes easy for “bastions of liberal thought” like Bill Maher and Trevor Noah to idealize people like cringeworthy conservative political commentators Milo Yiannopoulos and Tomi Lahren. To them, they’re viewed as just political opponents worthy of a feature spot on their program to represent the “other side” of the argument, as if racism is just a gentleman’s dispute necessitating good, verbal-sparring. And it’s that spirit that will lead to Lahren becoming America’s next, White feminist icon.
If that last sentence made you sick to read, please note that it made me equally as sick to type.
Yes, the same vapid blonde child running her terribly uneducated and overtly bigoted mouth on Glenn Beck’s “news” channel is already positioned to be regarded as a strong, outspoken and courageous feminist. While it may seem like a stretch, the truth is—as I mentioned months ago on Twitter—she just needs to follow what Megyn Kelly did.
Not sure why people believe that @TomiLahren cant escape her bigoted, racist comments.
She’s literally following the @megynkelly playbook.
— thisisyourconscience (@lincolnablades) January 11, 2017
Several years ago, Megyn Kelly was on Fox News doing her best to stoke xenophobic fears and propagate racist ideologies. While many know her for her “Jesus and Santa Claus are obviously White men” segment, she actually spent most of her years at Fox promoting overly racist narratives. She said the New Black Panther Party was intimidating masses of White people from voting. She victim-blamed Sandra Bland. She impugned the Black community’s “anti-cop, thug mentality” for why so many of us are shot, unarmed, by law enforcement.
Then in late 2015 during a Republican primary debate, Kelly publicly challenged Donald Trump on his misogynistic statements and almost instantly became the White she-ro willing to fight the patriarchy. And after leaving the racially-inflammatory Fox News for a new home at center-left NBC News in a reported $12-$15 million deal, she finds herself lamenting on transitioning from “hard news” to becoming the next Oprah. All it took was providing White liberals with the opportunity they needed to embrace her under the enduring umbrella of White solidarity. Her clash with Trump provided that.
— VANITY FAIR (@VanityFair) October 26, 2016
And now, just six months after elevating Kelly as a non-problematic icon, effectively erasing her past of racial discrimination, Tomi Lahren finds herself locked into her “clash with Trump” moment after being suspended by The Blaze for announcing she’s pro-choice. Much like Yiannopoulos having his racism and Islamophobia rewarded with a book deal he eventually lost after propagating the positives of pedophilia, Lahren went “too far” in advocating something that White Americans can view as bringing harm to White children. And that was almost unforgivable, unlike her deep past of racism.
— Josh Harkinson (@joshharkinson) March 21, 2017
Me celebrating Tomi Lahren’s suspension before the white feminist turn her into a martyr pic.twitter.com/aJdlyLRm3X
— Trevante’s Durag (@hannaallison_) March 20, 2017
And to be clear, while this eventual rise will be supported largely by accepting White liberals who view her bigotry as a simple political resolution, there won’t be a shortage of Black media figures—i.e. men—to cement her image as a friendly rival, instead of an advocate of White nationalism.
Would be dope if a young black or Hispanic liberal used social media to create a Platform to be a voice like Tomi Lahren did.
— Charlamagne Tha God (@cthagod) December 7, 2016
A post shared by Charlamagne Thagod (@cthagod) on
The reason it’s so important to address this is because we are on the precipice of normalizing the most overtly toxic racism that America—and the world at large—has been exposed to in decades. This is no time to be soft on prejudice and ascribe to racial divisiveness as a polite conflict of opinion. If those of us concerned with equality don’t make racism as irretrievable as the promotion of certain topics that White folks across party lines both agree on as being universally problematic, then we will help give rise to women like Tomi Lahren.
Hell, there might come a day when identifying her as a racist will be seen as being bigoted in and of itself. As always, it’s how the larger White community chooses to move forward from here that will determine how sane or horrific our future is. So White liberals, please remember we’re not arguing about identity politics; we’re talking about denouncing violent, harmful intolerance.
Lincoln Anthony Blades blogs daily on his site, ThisIsYourConscious.com. He’s author of the book, “You’re Not A Victim, You’re A Volunteer.” He can be reached on Twitter @lincolnablades and on Facebook at Lincoln Anthony Blades.