Identity Politics and Social Movements

This chapter by Painter and Jeffrey brings up some new concepts that we have not yet discussed in class but I feel that we have hinted or lead up to. They discuss identity and social movements.

            The chapter began with defining what exactly is identity, in its basic form, it is what makes you you. A makeup of social, ethnic, class, gender, etc. characteristics that define who you are. They go on to mention how the idea of identity is actually a lot more complex. They throw in the notion of multiple identities and shared identities to add to the complexity (of course they would). They ultimately share with us that identity has lead to the new practice of social movements making “identity” a new political concept.

Painter and Jeffrey define social movement as groups of people pursuing shared goals that require political or social change. They mention the civil rights movement, women’s rights movement, and the new grassroots movement. All of these demonstrated how people “identified” with others needs/wants and collectively raised concerns through protests, rallies, and boycotts. We discussed last week how important and impactful the use of protest and rallies were in getting issues resolved politically. These groups of people rally around each other for their common goal. One social movement currently happening is the Gay Rights movements. Just like the previous movements, the gay rights movement is fighting for some legal or political rights/equality. And it all starts the same way, with identifying yourself.

            I feel like that is the main goal and objective to take away from this chapter, before any action or thoughts can be taken on a certain political issue, you must see where you fall in regards to the topic. People must be self-aware of their own personal feelings. Once this happens, you can relate to other people who share the same ideals as yourself. Being gay, it took a while to identify myself, as I was quite confused growing up. Since I was confused, I really didn’t know anything about the gay rights movement or the politics dealing with this social movement. Know that I have identified as LGBT and have become aware of the issues facing that social group, I have taken more action in the movement that I have prior.  I can also take this idea of identity and apply it to being Latino. Another social movement going on with the Dream movement, or education for Latinos, even for illegals. Once again, when growing up and wasn’t aware of the issues. Once I became proud of my ethnic background, I got more involved and have actually participated in a protest in Bloomington (I am legal though, so there is no confusion).

After reading this chapter, I realize just how impactful identity plays in politics. Everything that makes up a person has some political issue that it can relate to. Abortion-religion, equal marriage- LGBT community, taxes- class, and so on.

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