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Politics

No one wins the oppression Olympics

Esther J. Cepeda on

A June study from Stanford University found that during interactions with law enforcement officers of all races and ethnicities, "white residents were 57 percent more likely than black residents to hear a police officer say the most respectful" phrases -- i.e., apologies or expressions of gratitude like "thank you." But "black community members were 61 percent more likely than white residents to hear an officer say less respectful utterances" and use "informal titles like 'dude' and 'bro'" as well as "commands like 'hands on the wheel.'"

In a new study that will soon be published in the Journal of the European Economic Association, researchers from Britain and Italy found that when receiving requests about basic information such as hours of operation, local government officials throughout the United States were less responsive to African-Americans than they were to whites.

In the discussion about who has it harder in this country, others might note that the crowd that gathered to listen to country music in Las Vegas was not spared from violence even though such music tends to draw a predominantly white audience. In fact, some people actually rejoiced publicly about the slaughter specifically because many of the victims may have been -- presumably, by being country music fans -- gun-loving Republicans.

Are you seeing my point here? No one wins the oppression Olympics. The reality is that everyone is discriminated against by someone. Everyone has some kind of privilege -- whether it's being able-bodied, free from mental illness, having a supportive family or simply being happy with his or her lot in life.

Does it really matter whether we think we have -- or lack -- some privilege relative to others? Does it move us forward in any meaningful way?

Perhaps it's time to stop focusing on how our particular privileges help us and start thinking about how to use whatever privileges we may possess to make others' lives better -- regardless of whether we agree with their politics.

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Esther Cepeda's email address is estherjcepeda@washpost.com.

(c) 2017, Washington Post Writers Group

 

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