- Reviewed by David M. Kinchen
I’m suffering from “Compassion Deficit Disorder” — one of the snappy phrases in Ange-Marie Hancock’s “Solidarity Politics for Millennials: A Guide to Ending the Oppression Olympics” (Palgrave Macmillan, 224 pages, $85.00, discounted on Amazon.com).
Why? I can’t find it in my soul to have compassion for those poor Arab-Americans that Hancock says are racially profiled at airports as the news reverberates this Christmas Day about Muslims bombing Christian churches in Nigeria, killing dozens of worshippers (the group that claimed responsibility for the latest atrocities has killed almost 500 Christians this year). Strange that most of the people who are being strip searched at airports turn out to be little old white ladies from Boca Raton, FL — not Arabs or Muslims!
Hancock would probably respond, as do most college professors (she’s a political science professor at the University of Southern California) that the so-called “Nigerian Taliban” bombers aren’t true Muslims, that they’ve hijacked the “religion of peace.” Let’s get this straight at the beginning: Islam is not the “religion of peace.” There is no exiting Islam, you can’t leave…It’s like the Hotel California of the Eagles.
The term “Oppression Olympics” isn’t original with Hancock, as she says in the beginning of this sometimes brilliant, often bewilderingly confused little book. Why is it list priced at $85.00, instead of say $26.99? It’s priced for the 1 percent, not the 99 percent that most Millennials are! The book is addressed to members of the so-called Millennial Generation, those born between 1981 and 2000, and I believe makes assumptions that are unsupported by factual evidence about this demographic cohort of 84 million members.
Hancock says at the beginning that Millennials “are far more engaged politically and have far more progressive views on race, class, gender, and sexual orientation issues than Generation Xers or Baby Boomers.” Later in the book, she provides evidence that many Millennials are just as stuck in the old ways as Boomers or Gen-Xers. If they’re Hispanic or African-American, when it comes to same-sex marriage, they voted for California’s 2008 Proposition 8, which banned same-sex marriage, in statistically greater numbers than Asians or whites. Hancock, who has a white mother and a black father, readily admits that many African-Americans, especially those who go to church, are vehemently opposed to gay marriage.
Hancock is probably correct when she states that Millennials responded to Barack Obama by voting for him in droves. At least the Democrats among them. Are all the 84 million Millennials Democrats? That doesn’t sound possible. And of the Millennials who voted for Obama, she posits that many of their parents — especially their mothers — really wanted Hillary Clinton to be the Presidential candidate, not Obama.
I agree with Hancock that most Millennials are fed up with the way politics operates in this country. I’m a pre-Boomer, born 8 years before the first Boomers appeared in 1946. I’m fed up with the way things are going, but I don’t see any solution in the “politics of intersectionality” that Hancock introduces to the general public — as opposed to academics — for the first time. I wasn’t impressed with the so-called Occupy Movement, which I see as an elitist, mostly white effort, and we all can see what the so-called Arab Spring has turned out to be in Egypt, for instance, with women protesters being stripped and abused by the country’s military long after the end of the Mubarak regime. African immigrants are being abused in post-Gaddafi Libya and look at the daily massacres in Syria, where the “religion of peace” prevails.
I read the book carefully, but this theory — the political theory of intersectionality — what Hancock and her colleagues call “the most cutting-edge approach to the politics of gender, race, sexual orientation, and class” troubles me. I think it’s an academic oversimplification — I could be wrong — of the actual political landscape. Millennials are influenced by popular culture — as are other generations — and much of today’s popular culture is homophobic and sexist. This is especially true of Hip-Hop music.
Still, the book is worth reading, if you can afford it! $85.00! Wow! Her use of popular culture includes extensive examinations of two TV series, neither of which I’ve seen: “Battlestar Galactica” and “Dora the Explorer.” I agree with Hancock that popular culture, including the TV shows, reflects the real world to a remarkable degree.
About the author
Ange-Marie Hancock joined the Department of Political Science at USC Dana and David Dornsife College in 2008 after five years as Assistant Professor of Political Science and African American Studies at Yale University. Prior to graduate school at the University of North Carolina, Hancock worked for the National Basketball Association, where she conducted the preliminary research and wrote the original business plan for the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA).