Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Monday, August 16, 2010, 11:48 PM Cape Town Time- My Dorm (LBG)

            Today was a decent day. I had two lectures, which were both decent. The classes here are decent and I'm not having as tough of a time with lecture-based learning as I thought I would. After class I went to a drug store and copped a razor that my dad recommended and shaved my head for the first time. It went all right, although doing the back is pretty difficult. I'm going to probably stay with the shaved head for awhile and see how I really dig it. I feel like it makes me look mad old, but then again so does losing my hair, lol.

            Today I had the second meeting of my study abroad seminar. For the class we had a reading called "American students can't be global citizens." The reading was cool but it quite honestly I didn't totally identify with or agree with the points. She had some interesting things to say about becoming aware of her privilege as a rich, white, American woman when she studied abroad in India, Nepal, and Tibet. I thought she was spot with some of her observations about how her privilege played out in that context but she makes the mistake of applying her experience broadly to all American students in developing nations. Undoubtedly this was not intentional but implicit in her analysis was the neglect to consider study abroad students who were not white and affluent (like me) when she discusses the reality for "American" students. My qualm is not with her experience or background but I think it is indicative of a key issue for many white Americans and many black Americans. Black (and other minorities) are not really seen as American.  Of course we are in some ways but for so many people even within our own country when we talk about "America" and the "The American Dream" it doesn't really work for us. When the Tea Party talks about preserving our America, many minorities are straight up not included in that. The Tea Party is of course a problematic group and their existence is problematic altogether but they are not baseless. They don't come from a vacuum. They are a product of America as much as Barack Obama or John F. Kennedy or anybody else.

Another thing that struck me is that so many people in America don't examine their privilege until they leave the country and that is a mistake. There's a lot of reasons for that but it definitely I think is problematic if some has to travel to Nepal to see the privilege they hold over a huge percentage of the world's population. This is not to minimize the plight of developing nations but simply to say that there are third world spaces in America. In our ghettos and in the rural spaces of our country that have suffered in silence and misunderstanding there exists similar conditions to those you might see in developing countries. The saddest thing about "American privilege" to me is that is does not extend to all Americans and even on the ground we fail to see that.

Of course we're all human and I'm human too and we like cool stuff. We like to splurge and do things to feel good and that is cool. We shouldn't have to feel bad for the opportunities we've received or the things we were born into. With that said I think that there are ways to operate responsibly in that knowledge and to try and remain cognizant of your privilege and what you can do to empower others. I'm trying to learn and think about how to do that but in the mean time I try to stay cognizant of the privilege that I do have (male, heterosexual, educated, etc. etc.). I don't know. It's a start though.

I also went to the gym. 'Twas good to get some running and lifting in. It's been a while.

"moments in time are sorta like bricks in your path, landmarks to reflect on your past"

-chali 2na



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