The Oppression Olympics

Someone dared to use the word “privilege” on Fetlife this week. The trainwreck debate is still going because what new hell would befall us if we let minorities tell the truth about their lives?

But I’m getting ahead of myself. I actually want to talk about the holidays I used to take when I was a teenager.

We were lucky enough to go to one of the most spectacular national parks in the world every year because my stepfather’s company had a private camp there. It overlooked a watering hole, so we drank our morning coffee to a parade of giraffes, elephants, and even the occasional big cat. We saw things that documentary makers would kill for because we spent so much time out there that ‘luck’ was guaranteed.

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That park is the same one illegal Zimbabwean immigrants try to cross on foot to escape the horror in their country. Many of them are killed by lions.

I suppose you could say that when my family’s car was charged by an elephant, I got a taste of what it might be like to be stalked and ripped to shreds by a lion.

Uh.

Or maybe not.

Maybe the fact that our camp’s kitchen got burglarised by baboons every year gave me a reason to tell Zimbabwe to stop complaining about those lion kills because even we private-camp-types faced hardships in that game park. Our air con broke once, and a dude who knows a dude I know got mauled by a cheetah last month.

Or maybe my family was lucky. Is that so awful to acknowledge? I feel okay about saying we were privileged. I’m not seeing the torture in being told you have some advantages that minorities do not.

The only reason there’s such a constant, screeching debate about privilege is because, when minorities talk about their experiences, those who are more fortunate accuse them of exaggerating. Minorities only tend to use the word ‘privilege’ when people who are determined to be equal victims call their experiences irrelevant. The word “privilege” in this context can be translated as, “No, you don’t know what it’s like to be a disabled Hispanic trans woman because you’re not a disabled Hispanic trans woman (for fucksakes!)

“But rich, privileged types get raped and murdered, too.”

Yep. That’s true, and my family’s car got charged by an elephant. I’m still willing to bet that our private camp holidays were better than racing across the border away from hungry lions only to be sent all the way back to Zimbabwe a year later. Some of these people cross the border seven times. That’s how desperate they are to get out of their country.

These Zimbabweans have serious advantages, though, if you compare them to the Sudanese: 2.5 million lives lost to civil war, only for the survivors to face a lifetime of starvation and being hunted by men and lions. Take that, White America, but my oppression is not your fault any more than the Sudanese’ persecution is Zimbabwe’s fault. We’re not playing The Oppression Olympics. We’re asking you to stop telling us what our own lives are like.

I don’t know. Maybe I’m just being silly. Maybe I do know what being eaten alive by lions after escaping political chaos is like.

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