And elsewhere, another kind of Olympics take place - the Oppression Olympics. You may already be a player in these games, but did you know you can be a judge, too? It's easy. You just have to look at oppressed people and decide who's got it worse - Latinos or Blacks? Queer folks or people with disabilities? The winner gets the special prize of declaring that they suffer more than anyone else in the world. It's kind of like a gold medal, I guess, only there are more tears involved.
I'm just kidding, of course. I don't actually want to play this game. I hate this game.
First, I'd want to know how we'd even begin to count our suffering for the sake of comparison. Quick - measure the amount of blood spilled, multiply that by the volume of tears shed, add the tension in your body, then divide the whole thing by zero - Bam! You got yourself a suffering quotient...?
Also, competing over oppression misses the point of our justice movements, to say the least. It's one of the easiest ways to drive wedges between groups that have the potential to build collective power against the systems that hurt us all. And it also disregards intersectionality, the fact that not everyone can easily identify with just one group or another. Clearly, intersectionality means that some will bear more wounds than others from the various forms of oppression, but we can acknowledge that without diminishing any of our experiences.
I admit that at times I'm tempted to compete in the Oppression Olympics myself, when someone tries to dismiss my struggles or claim that they hold a higher position on the great podium of pain. But the truth is, I may not ever truly understand what it's like to walk in another person's shoes, just like nobody else will ever really know what it's like to be me.
Here's how I see it: if you're not yet ready to move forward, and you prefer to remain stagnant in your suffering, then sure, try believing that you've got it worse than anyone else and that nobody would understand. But if you're looking to create change, try stepping onto the common ground in the lands of grief, struggle and pain. I'll meet you there. Then maybe we can build something together.