Guest post: Appropriation of someone else’s oppression

Originally a comment by Papito on No persuasive evidence.

This is a rough read, but I find it depressingly unsurprising. Privilege knows no bounds. A woman making, at the end of her career, half as much per year as it costs to attend the college is abused and threatened. Why? Because some oppression trumps other oppression. What ever happened to “intersectionality?” If someone is attending Smith College, they ipso facto have privilege vis-a-vis the security, dining, and facilities workers. Colleges can be positively feudal.

“It’s troubling that people are more offended by being called racist than by the actual racism in our society,” he said. “Allegations of being racist, even getting direct mailers in their mailbox, is not on par with the consequences of actual racism.”

This seems similar to the kind of borrowing of oppression that white, middle class trans identifying males do. Because some poor trans people of color are prostitutes, and suffer violent crime at the rate of prostitutes, all trans people are the most oppressed ever, including those white, middle class trans-identifying males (who are actually more likely to be the perpetrators of violent crime, rather than its victims).

Having to speak to the security guard in the building you’re not supposed to be in on campus is not remotely the same as having some cowboy press his knee into your jugular in Kenosha. It is appropriation of someone else’s oppression, and does so much more to trivialize racism than it does to fight it.

Meanwhile, the real suffering of poor workers who have been violently threatened and have suffered professional and medical difficulties are brushed off as mere, inconsequential allegations of being racist. I’m sure the Rev. Rahsan Hall is doing good work in other cases, but in this case he’s bullying poor people from a position of great power. “It’s troubling that people are more offended by being called racist than by the actual racism in our society,” he says. Well, I think it’s troubling that the Rev. Rahsan Hall is more offended by a student being checked up on when she eats in a place she’s not allowed to be than by a woman who was sent to the hospital by the ensuing bullying attacks. Where is the Rev. Rahsan Hall’s compassion?

“It is safe to say race is discussed far more often than class at Smith,” said Prof. Marc Lendler, who teaches American government at the college. “It’s a feature of elite academic institutions that faculty and students don’t recognize what it means to be elite.”

Where my son goes to college, there’s a young female student who readily punches male students in the face when she feels offended. Because she’s Black, she knows she can get away with it. My son has helped the other students understand that they need to drop everything and rush to report the incident, because she will make up a story involving racism and sex, and if that gets told first, they could get thrown out of college. But the idea that any member of the staff would ever hold her accountable is absurd.

It’s clear the same has happened with Ms. Kanoute. Conduct that threatens or endangers a person? Discriminatory harassment? Dishonesty? Disruption? Cyber-Bullying? Unauthorized entry or use? All of these misbehaviors are to be reported to, and adjudicated by the Academic Honor Board. Ms. Kanoute has clearly gone for the grand slam of infractions, and the Academic Honor Board cowers in silence. Some animals are more equal than others.

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