From those who insist that Barack Obama is Muslim to the European legislators who go to extraordinary lengths to ban items of clothing worn by a tiny percentage of their populations, Gary Younge shows, in this fascinating, witty, and provocative examination of the enduring legacy and obsession with identity in politics and everyday life, that how we define ourselves informs every aspect of our social, political, and personal lives.
Younge — a black British male of Caribbean descent living in Brooklyn, New York, who speaks fluent Russian and French — travels the planet in search of answers to why identity is so combustible. From Tiger Woods’s legacy to the scandal over Danish cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed, he finds that identity is inescapable, but solidarity may not be as elusive as we fear. We are more alike than we are unalike. But the way we are unalike matters. To be male in Saudi Arabia, Jewish in Israel or white in Europe confers certain powers and privileges that those with other identities do not have. In other words, identity can represent a material fact in itself. As Gary Younge demonstrates in this classic book, now featuring a new introduction,, how we define ourselves affects every part of our lives: from violence on the streets to international terrorism; from changes in our laws to whom we elect; from our personal safety to military occupations. Moving between fascinating memoir and searing analysis, from beauty contests in Ireland to the personal views of Tiger Woods, from the author’s own terrifying student days in Paris to how race and gender affect one’s voting choices, Gary Younge makes surprising and enlightening connections and a devastating critique of the way our society really works.