Thursday, October 13, 2011

Occupy

Based upon a post between Quinn and me.

Note to Self:

It's become trendy to talk about occupying Wall Street and occupying Boston and occupying all things within this world.  And yet . . . I am an occupier.

For all the talk of occupying Arizona, the reality is that I live on occupied land, taken by conquest first from indigenous nations and then from Mexico. I can complain about trust fund babies and nepotism, but I am the beneficiary of a geographic trust fund. By accident of birth, I inherited white, middle class privilege in ways that I am still coming to terms with. I struggle to come to terms with what to do with this reality.

As a teacher, it means I approach students with the knowledge that I have to step down humbly in ways that I might not in the suburbs. It means I have to remind parents that they should hold as much or more power than me (despite being marginalized). It means I have to be honest in teaching social studies instead of being "neutral." I need to tell students about American conquest and genocide.

John, you don't need to occupy more.  You need to occupy less.  You need to listen more and speak less. You need to be careful of the social hegemony that you inherited.  You need to approach relationships (especially with students) with a very cognizant sense that you are part of the occupation and that if you are a part of liberation, it must come through humility.

Sincerely,

John

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