Back in June, The New Republic launched Next Republic—a special series examining the changing ways we live, work, and interact—with a two-month-long look at the future of work.
Today, we shift to another issue that will shape the country in decades to come: identity. The evolution of how we define ourselves has long been a focus for The New Republic. In 1915, Rebecca West wondered about patriotism and nationality: "Only in one's own country is the rose of life planted where one would have it, shaped as far as could be by the will of one's own people, nourished by one's own blood." In 1986, Dorothy Wickenden asked what was next for the women's movement: "The time has come for a radical departure. Instead of simply fighting off the 'pro-family' and anti-civil rights crusaders, NOW could use its political power to launch a major offensive for a series of concrete social reforms and changes in the workplace—beginning with affordable, widely available, licensed day care"—an issue we still struggle with today. And in 2011, Eliza Gray declared transgender rights the cause of our times: "No one should have to wait until they are 55 years old to begin living as her true self. For people to feel safe to do this, our society will need to ... reevaluate just how necessary it really is to define people according to what's between their legs."
Over the next few months, we'll not only explore identity in the most traditional sense—race, gender, sexuality, religion—but also in the ways we experience it in every day life: profession, class, marital status, appearance. We'll discuss the role of race in primetime programming, seek out America's most diverse places, and profile the leaders and activists who further the identity debate. Throughout, we'll be seeking to tackle a fundamental question: What does identity mean in a rapidly evolving world?