Some people will do anything to avoid taking a long, hard look in the mirror. They will deny their social or economic status and their political or institutional power; deny that race and gender are key components of almost every daily interaction. One amateur sociologist — who happens to also be the outgoing premier of the Western Cape — recently argued in Daily Maverick that paying attention to these considerations (an attentiveness which apparently can only be described by the dismissive label of "identity politics") means accepting "that people have fixed identities, primarily based on biology, that divide them into categories of ‘oppressor’ and ‘oppressed’." She added that the consequence is viewing the world as "a struggle between the oppressors and the rest". This is a paltry caricature, but an easy way of getting off the hook. Isn’t the categorising of people based on race, gender and class something we should try to escape? Well, yes and no – emphasising these dynamics is n...

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