Why Calling Yourself a PoC is Opportunistic Cat’s Paw Intersectionalism
Posted: February 13, 2014 Filed under: The Real World
A couple decades ago, the Sycuan Band of Kumeyaay Indians hit upon a modern day gold mine: their lobbying efforts to remedy the systemic disenfranchisement of, as they put it, a “large tribal population of Native Americans,” resulted in sweetheart deals with the State of California to allow the Sycuan to build and operate a massive casino in the Dehesa Valley east of San Diego. The Sycuan band cited the sheer numbers of Kumeyaay people that would be helped by the revenues from gambling.
Once the ink was dry, The Sycuan decided not to share their lucre with other bands of Kumeyaay, or even with their own blood relatives: tribal elders promptly kicked half the active membership out once the money had to be shared.
Intersectionalism is essentially the art of finding the most picayune combination of traits (“well, from the indigenous bisexual Guatemalan immigrant feminist perspective, this is problematic…”) that seeks to glorify and “legitimize” the individual experience of the most particularized group possible.
Yet intersectionalists will still refer to themselves as people of color (PoC). That’s an overbroad term which defines them as a single and monolithic social group, which is more or less the antithesis of intersectionality. Of course, when YOU deny my unique snowflakiness, you’re a bigot. When I do it, I’m empowered.
The reason for the equivocation in identity is borrowed directly from the power structures intersectionalists tend to decry: amass a base as large as possible for the fight for resources, then attempt to artificially limit any resources gained to a group as small as possible. We are brothers, you and I, when I need an army; when the spoils are divvied up, I don’t believe I know you.
Expect the following. When it’s time to fight against the “hegemonic white cishet male power structure” or whatever, intersectionalists magically turn into “PoC,” keeping the struggle for the common good. When they gain any currency – including scholarships, grant money, government programs, or merely attention – they suddenly turn back into “Black genderqueer fat activists.”
Is another unrelated group attempting to recruit you – or even just to arouse your emotional state – by asserting a shared victimology on the grounds that you’re both not white, straight males? You might be a cat’s paw. Tread carefully and keep your eyes open.
 “Problematic” translation: “I am butthurt.”[*]
 and one that deliberately excludes and others only white people, regardless of the power structure faced by the particular intersectional group.
 “Sisters” would probably be more accurate.
[*] real translation: “I had a negative emotional reaction to the content of your speech.”