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Identity Politics

April 18, 1999

Re "In Them vs. Us, Who's Us?" Opinion, April 11: Gregory Rodriguez's failure to acknowledge the continuing importance of race is likely related to his obvious disdain for "identity politics." Rodriguez states, "Obsession with the idea of minority unity undermines the goal of cultivating more political discussion to bring about greater civic involvement." Obsession with anything is unhealthy, so his point is hard to fathom, particularly since intra-group unity is indispensable for successful cross-racial collaboration. If the "brokerage politics" of people of color were all that unacceptable, the nation's political structure would have collapsed long ago.

Rodriguez rightly maintains that the nonwhite voter base is as "complex and complicated" as the white electorate. But forfeiture of racial and ethnic identity by nonwhites is far too high a price for political salvation. Agreed, nonwhites are still viewed as "barbarian," and their diversity must certainly be factored into the "electoral equation." But this will not happen by whitewashing people of color or the systemic inequities they must continue to endure.

LARRY AUBRY, Inglewood

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