What started as an awareness raising and ethnographic styled walk through Sierra Leone, this site now details the encounters of a not so academic academic who spends more time occupying Wall Street and squats than a university...

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

night and day.

So today was a very interesting day in a lot of ways again, as have the last couple been.  I've been working non-stop now that I'm nannying and have some really exciting projects I'm getting into.  Yesterday was the epitome.  Nannying all day and then getting in the door and to work.  Dealing with everything from early child development, to rape in the military, to a piece I wrote for the metroOccupied newspaper, to Women in Sierra Leone, to Sustaining Occupy's future, etc.  So much to do and getting pretty tired.  Haven't been able to run at all really, but I guess walking everywhere with the little'n counts for something.  Not to mention that it was sweltering hot today.

Anyway, so there are two things of interest today:  One, I taught the little'n a new word it seems.  So on my phone I have pictures of a baby duck and chicken that were incubated here and were living in the bathtub.  She asks to see them almost every time I take out my phone.  Now of course in between the two sets of pictures I have of them are a bunch of pictures protesting in times square and against police violence in the Bronx.  She asked "what is that" when I first showed them to her and had to cycle through the protesting pics.  "oh, that's protesting".  She never really said anything, but each time would just say, "protesting" as we went from one set of duck and chick to the next.  Until today!  We were getting ready to go out and she says: "aren't we going to protesting?" I laugh of course and she then proceeds to say it over and over and over again every time we get ready to leave the house!!  I couldn't stop laughing!!  Best thing though... I told mom, and mom is all for it!!  sweet!!

Of course the second juxtaposition today was running from my nannying gig to an event in a home with a picture of the owner shaking hands with Obama at some swanky soiree with more fancy cheeses than I could eat in a week - and I can eat a lot!  It was a book launch that involved a legal organization that I am now close to a few people at.  I mean, it was the type of day that throws the contradictions in your life in so many directions.  On the subway ride I'm working on women's education in Sierra Leone, then I'm in Bed-Stuy as a white male nanny looking after a small white girl in a predominantly black neighborhood.  I of course have just broken back above the two digit dollar amount for cash on hand and am completely broke.  Yet, then there I am standing next to people that stand next to the president, in a building that looks like it, and with cheese that smells like it.

To go from such poverty and segregation, to such prosperity and privilege in a matter of a few minutes is so odd.  I mean, who am I when I'm in Bed-Stuy?  And then who am I when I'm in that room.  I'm both poor and I'm rich.  I will never be able to fit in.  In my mind and my upbringing I am always privileged, and it has nothing to do with money and such, it is about where I grew up, who I am, and the color of my skin.  I am a white suburban guy that expects to be listened to, and is used to being heard.  I go to African-American neighborhoods, I pledge in an African-American fraternity, I even if I have no money at all, I am still privileged without wanting to know it.  And this is right, and I can FEEL it.  I always believe.  This is the one thing that I don't feel from many people I talk to in marginalized communities, they don't believe, they don't trust in the future.  I don't mean this to beat them down, but they have been shit on for years and don't necessarily believe that is going to change for the most part - they hope maybe, but to believe in your core is different.  In my soul I know I'll be ok.  I believe I will make a difference in the world, I believe that I will find a way through, that I will make it work.  I am educated, I am experienced, I have talents, I will be fine.  The way I grew up gave me this belief.  So many others didn't have this luxury.  They are intelligent, experienced, have talents, but they get stopped and frisked every day, they passed over for jobs, end up in substandard schools, and are more readily institutionally pushed into jails and homes.  I felt this conflict today as I switched back and forth between my lives.       

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