The Lessons of the World Cup for our Victim Culture

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A Socialist Project e-bulletin ... No. 1645 ... August 2, 2018

The Lessons of the World Cup for our Victim Culture

Samir Gandesha

That we are living in an age of victim culture is well-exemplified by an article recently published by the CBC suggesting that minorities "feel apprehensive about heading into the wild because they don’t see themselves reflected in the outdoor industry and media." The underlying premise is that a paucity of representations of members of these groups constructs the outdoors as a kind of "unsafe space" of which people from these communities ask, according to the African-American author of a book called The Adventure Gap, James Mills, "‘Do I belong here? And if somebody believes that I don’t belong here, will they do something to harm me?’"

Now, evidence provided in the article... is scant, relying mainly on anecdotes. I could easily provide many to the contrary. But, surely, even if the evidence did support the claim, the important question is to what extent does the article not simply reproduce a certain Catch-22 rather than pointing beyond it. The paradox is the following: There are no people who look like me engaging in activity X, so I don’t feel comfortable engaging in that activity. Because I don’t feel comfortable engaging in activity X, there will be no people who look like me engaging in that activity. What journalism such as this fails to address is how people from marginalized communities, historically, were able to take chances and strike out in new directions and, occasionally, placed themselves in real danger, but also experienced real satisfactions from breaking through barriers (real or perceived) preventing them from participating in certain activities or fields. Such a possibility seems to be ruled out by this kind of writing.

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