Youth poets critique the "Oppression Olympics"
Tags: art/music, intersectionality, lgbtq, prejudice/discrimination, race/ethnicity, sex/sexuality, 00 to 05 mins
Summary: This poem, performed by two young women in the youth poetry competition Brave New Voices, is an excellent way to introduce students to the concepts of intersectionality and Oppression Olympics. "Oppression Olympics is a term used when two or more groups compete to prove themselves more oppressed than each other." Intersectionality is the theory of thought that draws attention to the ways in which inequalities are intersecting and interlocking, and thus proves the difficulties associated with comparing one group's experience with oppression to another's. The poem specifically chronicles what happens when members of the African American community and the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community engage in comparisons of who has had it worse. While the practice of comparing the harms of racism to homophobia isn't new, as sociologist Eric Anthony Grollman points out in this blog post, "the supposed black-versus-gay divide is old, and frankly a little tired." Indeed, as Grollman and the youth poets show, the experiences and activist histories of these two marginalized groups have much in common. Such insight supports what the bisexual Caribbean-American activist poet June Jordan wrote in her book, Some of Us Did Not Die: "Freedom is indivisible, and either we are working for freedom or you are working for the sake of your self-interests and I am working for mine." In addition to pairing this video with Jordan's work, the clip would work well with scholarship by other intersectional thinkers such as Audre Lorde, Allan Johnson, and Patricia Hill Collins.
Submitted By: Kendra Barber
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