Non-fiction book "Identity Crisis": In her new book, Alice Hasters gives a crash course in identity politics - and takes the steam out of all the discussions

Today everything has to do with everything.

Non-fiction book "Identity Crisis": In her new book, Alice Hasters gives a crash course in identity politics - and takes the steam out of all the discussions

Today everything has to do with everything. Climate with migration, gender with freedom of expression. Maximum dangers lurk everywhere: gender-neutral toilets threaten freedom, and vaccinations are fascism. The individual is forever a thing of the past because everyone gathers in groups and demands the end of the old white man. You're not allowed to say anything anymore - and if you do, you'll be canceled. Or?

The journalist and author Alice Hasters has now written her way through these debates; she takes a patient ride through the hysteria surrounding identity politics. "I believe that the many major crises of our time also place our individual and social identities in uncertainty," she writes. In other words: We are afraid because we no longer know who we are.

In her debut, "What white people don't want to hear about racism, but should know," she described how her own everyday life as a black woman in Germany is shaped by racism. That hit a nerve, and the book was piled up in displays and train station kiosks for months. During the uproar surrounding the death of African-American George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter movement, Hasters soon became a prominent Black voice.

In “Identity Crisis,” Hasters admits that she initially felt out of place at the first demonstration. She asked herself: What are all the people with no connection to African-American identity doing here? Why did everyone care so much about Black lives now? Was this about the USA or Germany? Her book is intended to have a low-threshold effect and joins similar books that are suitable for lateral entry into debates about identity, such as those by Tupoka Ogette ("And Now You", 2002) and Mohamed Amjahid ("The White Spot", 2021).

Hasters explains what is meant by inflationary terms such as “narrative”. What the shift to the right and gentrification have to do with identity politics. She does it like a committed social studies teacher: level-headed, without becoming dogmatic or trying to foist an ideology on the audience. Because the debate about what exactly identity politics is and whether we need it has not yet been decided: Was feminism the first major identity politics movement - or is it not rather the opposite? After all, the women wanted to break away from an imposed identity. They no longer just wanted to have children and serve men, but wanted to decide for themselves who they were. Hasters takes the steam out of debates.

Do chromosomes decide what constitutes a gender? And does our national identity rely on saying please and thank you? It doesn't matter because identity is just a story you tell about yourself. It emphasizes some things and leaves out others. What we do about the plot and subplot is arbitrary.

On a compact 200 pages there is little space to go into depth. Original theses are also missing. But “Identity Crisis” is a crash course that prepares you perfectly for the next debate in which everything has to do with everything and the West is once again drowning.

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