The Harry Potter series written by J. K. Rowling consists of 7 books. The books and films have been widespread, so I will not give a synopsis of the series. I figure if you don’t have a vague idea of the series, you have purposely chosen to avoid Harry Potter.
I started thinking about this series recently because I believe it can teach us something about Identity Politics. Identity Politics is defined by Merriam-Webster:
“groups of people having a particular racial, religious, ethnic, social, or cultural identity tend to promote their own specific interests or concerns without regard to the interests or concerns of any larger political group.”
In Harry Potter’s world, everything was based on your identity as a Muggle, Wizard, Witch, Werewolf, House Elf, Giant, Goblin, etc. There were specific rules based on identity, and different identities were expected to treat you in a certain way. Harry Potter struggled with entering the Wizarding World because he didn’t know these rules. Even once explained to him, he rarely followed them. Most of the series’s heroes went against stereotypes or expectations of their own identity group or ignored rules about treating those in different identity groups. It was one of the main reasons they were the heroes.
Our society tells us our identity group should be the most important thing, especially regarding race, sexuality, or gender. It is dividing us more than I have ever witnessed in my lifetime. We have continued to create more boxes to separate society. It is a very narrow- or small-minded way to view the world.
Let me explain what I mean.
If there are only 2 genders, then 3.5 billion people get to decide what it means to be a man, and 3.5 billion people get to decide what it means to be a woman. Given this truth, the range of “manly traits” must be broad as it has to cover 3.5 billion people. The same with “womanly traits.” However, suppose we decide there are more than two genders; some argue the total number is unknowable. In that case, the accepted traits of each gender become smaller. Suppose you have a biological female that exhibits characteristic A, but this is not a stereotypically feminine trait. In that case, society tells that person they are not a female. This is a narrow way of looking at gender traits because the characteristics for each gender must become extremely specific to ensure different people fall into the many different genders.
This can become very damaging to children. We have a society telling pre-teen children they may not be their biological sex. Their reasoning is based on one trait they exhibit at that young age. This will physiologically change their brain structure in how they think about themselves. This can have lifetime consequences. In the book, Irreversible Damage: The Transgender Craze Seducing Our Daughters found, that gender dysphoria for teenage girls are up 4,400 percent over the previous decade. The book argues that an ailment that in the past mainly afflicted males and began in early childhood, now has a new demographic: teenage girls.
In a society obsessed with Identity Politics, it was only a manner of time before they came for Jesus. Don Lemon recently suggested that if we
“present the true identity of Jesus, and that is as a black or a brown person rather than someone who looks like a white hippie from Sweden or Norway, and I think we should start with a true depiction of what Jesus looked like, and put that in your home. Either a black Jesus or a brown Jesus, because we know Jesus looked more like a Muslim or someone who was dark rather than someone who was blond, a blond-looking carpenter.”
He suggests that we cannot come to the” true reality of America” until we see Jesus as Muslim or black.
He is playing Identity Politics here. To him, the “true identity of Jesus” would be his skin tone or race. He fails because Jesus did have a racial identity. He was a Jew. If we view Jesus solely as his race, it would be a Jew, not as a Muslim or a Black person.
Seeing Jesus solely as his race will not change America. If I could imagine Jesus’ true skin tone, either very dark, dark, or fair-skinned, what do I gain in my knowledge about Jesus?
What will change America would be to understand his message of love and mercy. To understand who Jesus was, what he did, and why he did it. In short, to understand his character, virtues, and actions. This is what I desire to know more about Jesus. Not the darkness of his skin tone. Jesus’ “true identity” is the Son of God, the Word Made Flesh, the Incarnation.
There have been many apparitions of Mary, the mother of Jesus, throughout the world. During these apparitions, Mary appears as many different races. These descriptions are based on the people who are seeing Mary.
Given that Mary, the mother of Jesus, has appeared to people with varying skin tones. This suggests her skin tone has nothing to do with her. As Catholics, we care about her message, why she appears to these people, and what hope she can give us. It also suggests we do not have a skin tone in heaven, so do not get too attached to your racial identity. It is something that exists solely in this world.
We must shift our thinking in America to care about people’s character, virtues, and actions.
We must remember the advice given to Harry from Dumbledore –
I will tell my kids – Be more like the hero Harry Potter. Do not let society separate you into Muggles, Witches, Wizards, Werewolves, Giants, House Elves, or Goblins. Instead, determine who people are by their character, virtues, and actions.
Most importantly, focus on what Jesus did for you, not what he looked like.