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2015: A Year We Confronted Identity47:21
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Gender, race, Black Lives Matter, Caitlin Jenner. How and why 2015 became the year we obsessed over identity.

(Clockwise from Left)Mara Jacqueline Willaford, left, holds her fist overhead at a rally Saturday, Aug. 8, 2015, in Seattle; Caitlyn Jenner attends the 25th annual Glamour Women of the Year Awards on Monday, Nov. 9, 2015, in New York; Jonathan Butler, front left, addresses a crowd in Columbia, Mo.; and Rachel Dolezal, a leader of the Human Rights Education Institute, stands in front of a mural she painted at the institute's offices in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho. (All AP)
(Clockwise from Left)Mara Jacqueline Willaford, left, holds her fist overhead at a rally Saturday, Aug. 8, 2015, in Seattle; Caitlyn Jenner attends the 25th annual Glamour Women of the Year Awards on Monday, Nov. 9, 2015, in New York; Jonathan Butler, front left, addresses a crowd in Columbia, Mo.; and Rachel Dolezal, a leader of the Human Rights Education Institute, stands in front of a mural she painted at the institute's offices in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho. (All AP)

What’s your identity? In 2015, there’s a decent chance it was up for grabs. Suddenly, the big public conversation was all about letting go, changing, or grabbing on tight. Caitlin Jenner stopped being Bruce and said the choice was hers, at last. Black Lives Matter said see me, don’t kill me. Donald Trump rallies could look like backlash rallies, as public conversation turned to white privilege and the default white male point of view. It was a year of fluid race and gender lines and roles. A freedom that could thrill or scare. This hour On Point, our year of cutting loose the reins of identity.
-- Tom Ashbrook

Guests

Wesley Morris, critic at large for the New York Times. (@Wesley_Morris)

Anna Holmes, editor of digital voices at Fusion and columnist for the New York Times Book Review. Founding editor of Jezebel. (@AnnaHolmes)

Alyssa Rosenberg, pop culture critic for the Washington Post. (@AlyssaRosenberg)

From Tom’s Reading List

New York Times Magazine: The Year We Obsessed Over Identity — "For more than a decade, we’ve lived with personal technologies — video games and social-media platforms — that have helped us create alternate or auxiliary personae. We’ve also spent a dozen years in the daily grip of makeover shows, in which a team of experts transforms your personal style, your home, your body, your spouse. There are TV competitions for the best fashion design, body painting, drag queen. Some forms of cosmetic alteration have become perfectly normal, and there are shows for that, too. Our reinventions feel gleeful and liberating — and tied to an essentially American optimism."

Washington Post: In 2015, pop culture continued to shed its sexual inhibitions — "Covering pop culture isn’t anything like being posted to a war zone. But from zombie apocalypses to middle-age white criminals, mass culture’s current obsessions can sometimes make me feel as though I’m working one of The Washington Post’s grimmer beats. So in 2015, I found myself particularly grateful for movies and television that chucked out the end of the world as subject material and focused instead on pleasure, particularly on what all sorts of women really want."

New York Times Magazine: Has ‘Diversity’ Lost Its Meaning? — "How does a word become so muddled that it loses much of its meaning? How does it go from communicating something idealistic to something cynical and suspect? If that word is 'diversity,' the answer is: through a combination of overuse, imprecision, inertia and self-serving intentions."

This program aired on December 23, 2015.

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