Landon’s Law of Declarations of Oppression

Yesterday, I tweeted this:

I am so damn tired of privileged white, straight people playing the victim card. #youveneverbeenoppressed

This was in response to a trend I’ve seen for a while, but is cresting in the particular religious world I live in. In short, it is increasingly the case that those who have historically been in the majority on several issues are now not, and it is making folks crazy. There are some that, to their credit, are doing the very hard work of trying to reframe their understanding of living in a community that they do not wholly resonate with, but so many more are playing a game I find deplorable.

Persons who have historically occupied positions of privilege have begun to declare that the tables have now turned and that they are the victims of marginalization and oppression.

What is at play is a lack of understanding of regarding the actualities of marginalization. Given that these persons have rarely (if ever) had to function in an environment where their behaviors and understandings were not the dominant norm, when they enter into a situation where their options for control are limited they begin aping what they believe they have heard from other marginalized persons or groups and mistakenly apply those to their present situation. They declare that they are now being marginalized and demand to be accommodated.

This betrays a belief that life is a zero sum game and the best strategy to win it is to seize control. This is problematic in a Christian religious environment, where we have historically affirmed that God is always creating and that there is “always room at the table.”

So (in a nod to Godwin’s Law) I now offer “Landon’s Law of Declarations of Oppression”:

As the influence of a person or group of privilege decreases, declarations of oppression and marginalization will occur in the inverse.

5 thoughts on “Landon’s Law of Declarations of Oppression”

  1. I agree with your ‘law,’ but let’s not forget that oppression occurs in a variety of ways and formats, not solely based on one’s ethnic background. For example, gender and sexual (orientation) oppression are colorblind.

  2. I was in a conversation where a person was proclaiming that the “leftist” in the denomination have controlled the actual meetings of the GA through the manipulation of who has gotten elected as commissioners. “I’m tired of being marginalized,” were the person’s words. The person then went on to say they wanted to make sure the right (used in several meanings) people get elected from this presbytery.

    I looked at the person and said, “Oh, it is alright for you to do what you are accusing them of improperly doing?”

    There was no response.

  3. it is a deplorable game. i had a conversation recently about a school “neutrality” policy preventing teachers from interfering in instances of anti-gay bullying. consequently, the district had a rash of suicides among lgtb kids. staggeringly, a friend argued that the real bullying victims were evangelical christians being blamed for a policy they had authored, defended, or silently refused to stand against.

    the christian-as-persecuted-minority line of thinking makes me insane, especially when it prevents the church from acknowledging real hurt and injustice and keeps us from actually getting involved.

    we’d all do well to engage in more conversations about privilege. good thoughts here.

  4. I am a privileged person, a fact my two sons remind me of continually. I am trying to use my relative wealth and social position to be an advocate for causes which I think are important, such as a secure life for lgtb people and justice for the Palestinians both inside and outside the PCUSA. I am open to hearing about other ways in which my privileged position can be put to use in bringing God’s kingdom. I hope and pray I shall never be one of the disingenuous complainers, yet I acknowledge that I am often comfortable in my privileged life. Greek wisdom says “moderation in all things,” but I don’t think Jesus lived by that maxim.

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