Race, Ethnicity, and American Collective Identity – Part 4


In my last post I pointed out how solidarity can be quickly cemented by pointing out how shared characteristics are in danger of disappearing.

This goes well beyond immigration, and well beyond policing tactics.

But if Mo Brooks can create identity through a phrase, isn’t it also possible to create alternative identities to counter this?

Lately, some research in sociology has suggested that the concept of collective identity is not stagnant, and indeed is much less bound to traditional notions of belonging to specific groups. Rather, identity is something very individual, and a single person may share in a variety of “fluid identities” depending on her current role, which may change from year to year, day to day, or even minute to minute.

This notion of “fluid identity” may very well be how we transform views of “the other” back to conceptions of “us”. Finding linkages, similarities, common bonds within a sea of diversity should allow us to hold other identities which include, rather than exclude.

But as soon as I write this, it becomes clear that geographic isolation, disparate educational opportunities, and economic inequality keep us all from forming inclusive identities. Creating a collective identity for us all may be harder than we think.

Dr. Rebecca Murray


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