Navigating Privilege Politics at U of M

On this campus “power” and “leadership” are synonymous with a claim to an oppressed identity.

As you begin your classes at the University of Michigan this fall, you are likely to be bombarded with words like “privilege,” “identity,” and “oppression.” While these might seem innocuous enough —  and the first time year hear them you might even pause to think about your privilege and identity — you will soon realize that these words mean that you (white, male, not poor, attractive, able to walk … whatever “identity” that you hold) are not welcome in this circle, that club, or that council.

If you do find yourselves in any of these spaces – presumably by mistaken invitation – you had better be prepared to say sorry and shut up. Asking questions? Clearly you are marginalizing minorities lived experiences. Trying to be a leader? Definitely taking power from others in the room and furthering white supremacism.

On this campus “power” and “leadership” are synonymous with a claim to an oppressed identity.

Don’t let this realization dash your hopes of becoming a social justice bro or scoring a position in a club that has “diversity” in its title, though. There there is a simple solution to claiming a coveted oppressed identity all for yourself! All you have to do is decide which depression or anxiety or really any other mental health diagnosis is the easiest to remember, and claim it as your own!

Once you have your disorder picked out – you can even get creative and combine two – look at yourself in the mirror and rehearse your story. Be sure to include that you really struggled and that you felt like an outcast. It helps too if you mention something about how hard it is to talk about. Don’t worry, you never even have to pretend to have talked to a mental health professional either as you can simply say that you felt too much stigma around it. If you want to strengthen your story though, you can always say something vague like “CAPS is really great” even if you don’t know what CAPS stands for. Trust me, no one else does either.

Now that you have your story down, tell it whenever you can. The more people who know and can point you out as someone who is oppressed the better. These people will always back you up and invite you to join clubs and groups meeting in exclusive safe spaces.

Once through that door in some trendy space with a name like the “Edward Said Anti-Israel Lounge” you can make up the details of the story as you go – nobody will question you.

Once through that door in some trendy space with a name like the “Edward Said Anti-Israel Lounge” you can make up the details of the story as you go – nobody will question you. Those spaces are all about believing your experience. Besides, questioning a story would amount to near literal violence.

Another quick tip: don’t eat before any of these meetings as there will always be good food. The university’s solution to addressing student demands for diversity is to throw money at anyone claiming to be oppressed – bonus points if the university itself as an institution can somehow be tied to that oppression.

So what are you waiting for? This fall make depression/anxiety/whatever you think sounds cool your best friend and join the cult of oppressed identities on campus. Before you know it, you will be offered a position on ResStaff and will probably be elected to student government too!

This satire piece is part of the “Welcome Back” project by Michigan Review staff writers and editors.

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  • MICK

    How fitting is this article ! Create a world of victims! It will be such a better world! I bet even if you don’t have any issues you can go see a Psych and they will be glad to professionally proclaim one for you!