The original meaning of “identity politics” (with Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor)

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Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor is an associate professor of African-American Studies at Princeton University and the author of multiple books, including most recently How We Get Free: Black Feminism and the Combahee River Collective, which traces the origins of the term “identity politics” back to its very first use.

“Since 1977,” she writes, “that term has been used, abused, and reconfigured into something foreign to its creators.” Taylor’s intellectual history is driven by more than curiosity: it’s part of a larger vision that views racism and our contemporary economic system as inextricably linked.

This is a conversation full of tough questions. What constitutes identity politics? When is it inclusive, and when is it exclusive? Is racism a function of capitalism or is it constant across economic systems? How did Barack Obama’s presidency lead to Donald Trump’s? What can stop future Democrats from running into the very same institutional strongholds that plagued Obama?

Book recommendations:

Black Reconstruction by W.E.B DuBois

Selected poems of John Wieners

Women, Race and Class by Angela Davis

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