In essence, this is a blog about reclaiming humanity. It’s about readings and observations, past and present. It’s about how I’m living and how I hope to live. It’s about permaculture and sustainability. It’s about what it means to think globally and act locally. It’s about my effort to live more simply as a form of rebellion. And it allows me to vent when I feel the need.
But how did I come to find important what I find important? I wish to start this blog with a 6-part introduction about my 34-year journey up to this point. Throughout you will find links – a lot of links – and following those links will most certainly make it easier to grasp where I’m coming from. It’s a lot of material. Material that helped shape who I am. Note that some links will be to Wikipedia pages only because Wiki can be a good starting point, and not because I think Wikipedia is the be all end all source. I try not to write too much about that which you can read for yourself, so as to keep these introductory posts from being even longer than they already are. With that out of the way, let’s get to it.
Perhaps it seems strange or possibly kind of sad, but there isn’t that much to say about the first two decades of my life. I was obsessed with sports, an only child, apolitical, sheltered from the harsh realities many face, and a member of an especially odd denomination of Christianity, which I’ve long since abandoned. What else? Well, I was born a white, heterosexual, able-bodied male who would be raised ‘middle class’ in a Midwestern suburb of the wealthiest, most imperialistic nation on Earth. Might that be an important recognition? I tend to think so. After all, would my life have not been appreciably different if even just one of those traits had been altered somehow?
My private school education – with assistance from corporate/mainstream media – indoctrinated me with the standard myths of American exceptionalism, failed to teach evolutionary biology and never encouraged me to read anything too controversial. But I wouldn’t say I was any less prepared for so-called higher education than your average public school attendee. I’ve been about as overprivileged as one can be.
“Underprivileged” is a fairly common term. It stands to reason, therefore, that there are those who are “overprivileged.” Still, it is an unfamiliar term for many and was for me until I was well into my 20s. First, I had to be made aware of underprivilege.
Like many others I’m sure, I can recall getting incensed when exposed as a youngster to footage of civil rights abuses, such as those iconic images of white law enforcers turning their vicious dogs and fire hoses against black folks. That same sense of anger returned when researching death penalty statistics for a speech and debate class in college. Let’s just say it’s very apparent that the (in)justice system is – like so many other institutions – fraught with racism. It was that assignment that prompted me to research other social issues, which brought an end to my days of being an apolitical person.
Not sure what I wanted to do upon graduating from college, I settled on immediately returning to school to become a teacher. My post-graduate program allowed me to make sure teaching was really what I wanted to do by having me visit several area schools, starting with a suburban school not far from my childhood home. As soon as I stepped foot on the campus of a City of St. Louis middle school, I was seeing first-hand what Jonathan Kozol called “the restoration of apartheid schooling in America.” From a lack of a sufficient number of textbooks, no more than a couple of computers and dilapidated facilities, I was witnessing staggering disparities between urban and suburban schools.
In Part II of my introduction, I’ll tell you about how I became formally acquainted with the concept of white privilege, a form of overprivilege.