Rachel Dolezal is an American civil rights activist and the former president of the Washington chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Dolezal, a white woman of German, Dutch, Swedish and Czech descent was outed by her family for faking her ethnicity. She was pretending to be black. The first response of the media was to confirm her heritage. The ensuing discussion focused on the validity of her ‘transracial’ status: could Dolezal, as a white person, actually choose to identify as ‘black’?
Yet despite all the discussion, nobody stopped to consider if she actually wanted to identify as black, or if that was her only remaining recourse.
Oppression is a necessity in modern society. Without it you have nothing; no cause, no voice, no support and nowhere to belong. With it you are virtually immune to criticism, no matter how absurd or self-contradictory your position. What was once a burden is now a prized possession.
So how can one improve their oppression rating?
For an atheist like myself nominally adopting a minority religion would be a triviality, but to one of a religious mind this could be somewhat sacrilegious.
Changing gender is rather a drastic step. A potentially irreversible step. And, for a woman, a downwards step on the oppression ladder.
Changing sexual orientation could leave an unfavourable taste in her mouth, so to speak.
Changing race, however, is relatively simple and inconsequential; change of foundation, change of hairstyle and the task is mostly complete. Presumably she would also have to add some bad music to her collection, but if my DVD shelf is anything to go by one needn’t actually consume their own media.
With only a few minor tweaks, anyone can become an oppressed minority.
But should all this identity politics be necessary?
I dream of a world where it isn’t. A world without discrimination. A world where everybody has the same rights regardless of their race, religion, gender or sexual orientation. A world where everyone is free to identify as ‘oppressed’ without the need to belong to a favoured group. Only then will everyone have the same freedoms.
Some may find this direct labelling shortcut preposterous. ‘Why not judge the evidence and the merits of each case to determine fairness without the claim to oppression?’, they might say.
The naivety of such sentiments is astonishing. It is now accepted that ‘evidence’ and ‘merit’ are subjective social constructs of our hetero-normative, white-supremacist, capitalist patriarchy. As such, oppression cannot be measured, it can only be felt. Society cannot reason itself out of this mire.
If you do not belong to one of these favoured groups – if you are unfortunate enough to be white, straight, male, or god forbid all three – it is time to emote. Cry like a baby at every opportunity. No first world problem is too small. Have you ever been misjudged or mistreated? These are neither trivialities nor coincidences. You are being oppressed. Do you simply not like the results of your own personal choices? Don’t worry, you are in no way responsible. The entire system is out to get you. Ensure your struggles are known, but more importantly felt. We can all be oppressed and only then will we be free.
Breaking down the artificial barriers to oppression and opening the franchise to all is the only way to ensure true equality.