Korede Aderele
korede [at] drexel.edu

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Identity vs Classification

Identity is a personal thing, while classification is external.

However, when people say things like “don’t let your identity hold you back”, thay are committing the logical fallacy of conflating identity and classification. The quoted sentiment often does this while ignoring the effect of oppressive classification of groups as components of what holds them back — they instead focus on inconsequential classifications amidst social groups that might cause individuals to not believe in themselves.

The underlying premise of this, that identity can be influenced by classification, is valid. But the assumption that people’s inherent or self-determined identity is what warrants certain classifcations is frankly dangerous. To illustrate: the assumption is often made that young black men are inherently rowdy or dangerous hoodlums, and that this classification warrants their being intensely policed. Simple sociological intuition dictates that this is indeed never the case, and that people and their resulting characteristics are by and large a result of the environments in which they exist, in this case: the societal neglect that black communities have long been subjected to.

Dec 11, 2018

In fact the

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