A problem with individualism: the cost of privilege

Liberation comes through community. Everyone who has been oppressed, excluded, impoverished knows that according to poet Danez Smith. Yet so much of our discourse is about the individual. Could it be that those who shape that discourse are those who already have their rewards, already feeling entitled to the cream?

Here’s what Danez Smith has to say in an interview with Kate Kellaway:

You don’t have the luxury of being an individual. To be black, queer or poor – to be an individual has always meant death for us. To be a woman alone is dangerous – we teach our daughters that, we teach black people that. Our liberation comes through community, organising, collectivising. Individuality has meant death. Individuality has meant being marooned. Individuality is a privilege, right? The only people who can think of themselves as separate from the other people who have made their lives possible are straight white dudes

The Guardian January 28th 2018 https://www.theguardian.com/books/2018/jan/28/danez-smith-interview-poetry-dont-call-us-dead-dear-white-america?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other

2 thoughts on “A problem with individualism: the cost of privilege”

  1. Interesting. And salutary. Makes me think of the sense of the corporate we need to remember when we read scripture and to paraphrase Tom Lehrer, I do believe ‘we all go together when we go’. It also throws shade on the emphasis on‘personal salvation’ we find in some flavours of evangelism. Much to think about.


  2. Yes, we are interdependent . . . but . . . take away individuals and there is no-one around to gather into community. Each of our lives is a delicate balancing act between the individual and the collective.


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