Jared Sexton on anti-blackness and the oppression olympics derail
September 7, 2014
The following quotations are from
Sexton, Jared. “People-of-Color-Blindness Notes on the Afterlife of Slavery.” Social Text 28, no. 2 103 (June 20, 2010): 31–56. doi:10.1215/01642472-2009-066.
If the oppression of nonblack people of color in, and perhaps beyond, the United States seems conditional to the historic instance and functions at a more restricted empirical scope, antiblackness seems invariant and limitless (which does not mean that the former is somehow negligible and short-lived or that the latter is exhaustive and unchanging). (47)
Yet all of this is obviated by the silencing mechanism par excellence in Left political and intellectual circles today: “Don’t play Oppression Olympics!” The Oppression Olympics dogma levels a charge amounting to little more than a leftist version of “playing the race card.” (47)
We might, finally, name this refusal people-of-color-blindness, a form of colorblindness inherent to the concept of “people of color” to the precise extent that it misunderstands the specificity of antiblackness and presumes or insists upon the mono lithic character of victimization under white supremacy — thinking (the afterlife of) slavery as a form of exploitation or colonization or a species of racial oppression among others. (48)
i find it super interesting to read this after, on many different occassions, myself getting annoyed with other nonBlack poc (nbpoc) for a general refusal to accept that there just might be some (read: Black) ppl who are more oppressed than us.
Sexton doesn”t frame this (for obvious reasons) as a ‘derail” but the comparison of ‘oppression olympics” to the ‘race card” should make it pretty clear that this is a derail. and like many derails, it is a silencing tactic (and, thus, also a way to weild structural power in a violent fashion).
and, it is no mistake, that (depending on the exact community we are talking about) ‘oppression olympics” as a callout/derail is most frequently used against the very people who have the best claim for ‘winning” in the competition (if we are talking about race/white supremacy, this obviously means Black people).</p>