Wednesday, December 14, 2011

#Occupier Responds: Open Thread

In response to this week's post '#Occupy, you are not the 99%,' #OccupyColumbus's John Dorn (@j_dorn) shared his own thoughts. Find below our twitter-based discussion thus far, & contribute your own thoughts in comments (where he and I will also continue). And be sure to follow @BTSFblog!



@j_dorn: its been happening for decades because nobody has stood up. Now we're standing... stand with us.

@BTSFblog: Don't get me wrong, in general, I do like #Occupy. But know that MANY stood before you, but have been bludgeoned into exhaustion

@j_dorn:
The 99 Percent. The symbol, to me, is incredibly powerful. It suggests, for the first time in our history, unity en masse. The opportunity, finally, for us to work together, united, to further humanity. This idea gives me chills just considering it... 

But it would appear I'm one of the few. 

I've been, to my knowledge, a very vocal supporter of diversity within the Occupy movement. I've tried, time and time again, to identify the issues affecting all those who say they are oppressed, because, to me, that is exactly why we're out there. Why, then, time and time again, have I been told, effectively, "We stood, you didn't stand beside us before, so we won't stand beside you now because we've got more to lose." 

Before you respond, please know, I understand the sentiment. I get it, I do. But, I'd like to ask, where does this animosity get us? How does a tit-for-tat withdrawing of support help to further our collective agendas of equality? Why is getting my head bashed in a couple million more times necessary to get equal support? 

I often ask why the person I'm speaking with feels that way. Often cited is lack of support during various civil rights movements and oppression throughout history. I'd like to point out now that this country hasn't seen a proper political movement in 30-40 years. This is that opportunity for us to finally band together, and a banner to fly which represents us all. If historical support is being used to gauge whether you want to participate now, I would suggest a cursory glance from a different perspective. 

This is a new world. This is *our* new world. Today. Right now. We are building it, together. 

The ways of old are cast aside. People like me, raised on a farm in rural Ohio, are marching alongside gays, blacks, women, latin@s, and everyone else, demanding equality. We exist in a unique time. A time when the ways of the oppressors are becoming reprehensible to everyone, collectively. When persecution of *anyone*, regardless of race, gender, creed, nationality, religious views, sexual orientation, or any other qualifier is unacceptable. 

The time for unity is now. The time to stop fighting each other, and work together, is upon us. 

I challenge every person who reads this to rally for one simple cause: Equality. Real equality. Do not think about historical oppression, but look forward to equal opportunity. Do not look at me as an oppressor, for I have never, ever, oppressed any person. Look at me as a brother, a comrade, a friend, an equal. Look at me with the same love with which I look at you. This is our world now. Let's help each other reconstruct it without comparing ourselves, but instead rallying together for equality overall. 

So yes, I am an occupier. We are #Occupy. We do represent the 99% - to the best of our ability. If we're doing something wrong, come give us a hand.

1st, let me thank u 4 ur service. I know u r there on my behalf & others'. Im appreciative. Critiques arent the same as combat

Ur best line: “We do represent the 99% - to the best of our ability. If we're doing something wrong, come give us a hand.”

..I think the reticence is less abt “you werent there, so we wont be either” & more abt “you werent there, so now we CANT”..

 .. It’s not a vindictive response, it’s often just the only option people have..

..it’s a privilege 2 even be able 2 #occupy. Where are ur kids? Who is taking care of ur parents?..

..How is the cold affecting ur untreated TB? Who is waiting in line for u at social services?..



..It’s easier for those of us with privilege to say ‘we are all the same’..

..But it is privilege to ‘not think of historical oppression’ when one doesnt live with its modern consaquences (eg. racially)..

..if Occupiers are truly willing to stand for those that cant, then perhaps trust will grow, bt it takes time 4 u 2 sound sincere..

…the fear is that this is another of many times someone says ‘Im for you,’ wanting support, without really following through..

 ..Don’t b indignant that folks who've been marginalized & exploited 4 causes for decades dont readily trust u…

..There are a lot of deep wounds that cannot be healed overnight (what relationship ever works like that?)..

..I truly hope folks can take a leap of faith and join on. But I understand why they would rather not..

..I don’t know u. Maybe ur as enlightened as u claim. So no matter what happens w #Occupy...

..I assume I can count on seeing u serving in the blighted neighborhoods of Columbus well into the future. I look forward 2 it..

Katelin's comments are preceeded by ".. [and are in italics]

.. I think the reticence is less abt "you werent there, so we wont be either" & more abt "you werent there, so now we CANT".. .. It's not a vindictive response, it's often just the only option people have.. 

Fair enough. This doesn't explain the attitude though. If a group feels unrepresented then instead of complaining about it that group should come represent themselves. Or at least, instead of just complaining, explain what issues aren't being addressed so we can work toward fixing them. I've seen none of this. 

 .. it's a privilege 2 even be able 2 #occupy. Where are ur kids? Who is taking care of ur parents?.. 

I don't have children, my mom works 40-50 hours a week and goes to college full-time to finish her business degree she's been busting her ass for (and paying for out of pocket). My dad died in 2001, when I was 16. 

.. How is the cold affecting ur untreated TB? Who is waiting in line for u at social services?.. 

I work 40+ hours a week and #occupy whenever I'm not there. There are no social services offered to me, at all (because I now exceed the income requirements, but there wasn't much before either), so even if I needed to and could stand in that line it'd do me no good. I don't have a college degree because there were no scholarships and only $1000 in grant money, and at the time that college was an option I was working full-time and going to high school trying to help my mom keep our house. It didn't work. 

.. It's easier for those of us with privilege to say 'we are all the same'.. .. But it is privilege to 'not think of historical oppression' when one doesnt live with its modern consaquences (eg. racially).. 

This is fair. I had a bit of a leg-up, because my dad put a broken computer in front of me when I was 6 years old. I learned that thing inside and out, and have been training for the field I now work in for about 20 years. Without this, I'm not sure where I'd be. 

.. if Occupiers are truly willing to stand for those that cant, then perhaps trust will grow, bt it takes time 4 u 2 sound sincere.. .. the fear is that this is another of many times someone says 'Im for you,' wanting support, without really following through.. .. Don't b indignant that folks who've been marginalized & exploited 4 causes for decades dont readily trust u.. .. There are a lot of deep wounds that cannot be healed overnight (what relationship ever works like that?).. 

This is the root of our problem though. The blame for societal issues is being placed squarely on the shoulders of the people who just happen to have maybe benefitted from that past oppression, even if they had nothing to do with it. I don't understand why I'm not to be trusted in the first place. If it's just because I'm a 20-something white dude, isn't that a bit fucked up? 

 .. I truly hope folks can take a leap of faith and join on. But I understand why they would rather not.. 

 If people don't want to stand beside us that's fine. I understand why, to a degree. What irritates me is when I read articles indicating that the #Occupy movement doesn't represent them because it's just a bunch of middle-class white people, and then refuse to join us or even tell us what issues we're not addressing. To me it feels like once the issues we wish to address are addressed, then the economic inequality will be fixed. The rest, being social inequality, will only come through persistent, long-term activism. While I'm certainly willing to do this, and plan on it, it's much less effective without some help from the people I'm pledging my support to. I view this similar to refusing to vote because the process doesn't work. With 30% of the people in this country actually bothering to take the time to vote (assuming they're not gerrymandered into being unable, a different issue but one I want to address very soon), one can only assume that the system is not fundamentally flawed, it's simply not utilized. Until we try something and prove it broken, we cannot assume it doesn't work. 

 .. I don't know u. Maybe ur as enlightened as u claim. So no matter what happens w #Occupy... .. I assume I can count on seeing u serving in the blighted neighborhoods of Columbus well into the future. I look forward 2 it.. 

If I know what I can do, I'll be there. That's why 2 months ago I moved from my house I was renting and into a tent on the sidewalk, because I thought that was the appropriate course of action. To constantly hear I'm still missing the bar and being offered no suggestions on a proper course of action, though, is beginning to take its toll. 

.. heh...that's all. Sorry for all the tweets. might have to go MIA again, but will remain in dialogue as am able

Thanks for taking the time to respond! I look forward to our dialog in the future :-)

Not sure best way 2 respond point by point 2 ur comments (http://j.mp/vZZoLy), bt will include first word of ur line fllwd w ':'

Fair:
I cant account for other pple’s rudeness—it isnt the right way but their attitude doesnt diminish the point itself, any more than previous lack of involvement changes ur points. Both remain valid, if poorly communicated. I have now told u what issue need to be addressed, so I am glad u can now work towards fixing it. Beyond general suggestions outlined here, Im happy 2 offer practical steps/advice addressing my specific thoughts.

I dont/I work: 

Privilege gives u independent (parents/kids), which makes it infinitely easier to occupy. I get that uve had struggles. But at this point u r a lot better off than many folks. Uve worked really hard, but there are also many systemic reasons u got where u r while others didn’t.


Fair: 
I think largely, u understand this, as demonstrated by ur next line. "I had a bit of a leg-up...Without this, I'm not sure where I'd be." & a recent headline I saw from your colleague “We Can B the Voice of Ppl Who Dont Have Time 2 b Down Here.’ So it is a great start for change and solidarity. But relationships aren’t healed yet.

Root: 
As a 20-something white chick I know benefit frm many similar privileges, but do believe it is my responsibility to combat them, more so than those that don’t have such benefits. It may be you ‘had nothing to do with it’ but Ive yet to actually meet someone that hasn’t perpetuated their own privilege. U make it sound like it is an issue of the past, and yet it is a very modern phenomena. Racially, for example: white folks regularly benefit during hiring, promotion, pay rates etc. And chances are u enable it too through subconscious biases (http://tiny.cc/9gpf2) & microagressions (http://tiny.cc/e8r5a).

And as @BDTSpelman describes, it’s like a moving sidewalk: if you stand still, you are moving with it. Instead, one must actively walk against it to reverse the flow. It is easily self-perpetuating. All that is required to maintain it, is business as usual…[when] pple dont disrupt unfair systems of privilege, theyre—willingly or unwillingly—on the moving sidewalk receiving White privilege and inadvertently enabling racism” It IS in fact our responsibility to work against that in an active way, and our fault when we dont. It is a continuous process, of course. No one ever ‘arrives.'


It is similar principle as what we r asking corporations to do. They could go on as is w status quo, but we r putting responsibility on them to activate change. Of course, some companies could argue that they themselves didn’t cause these issues & shouldnt be blamed/have to change it. But they still benefit & I believe there is a moral imperative 4 them 2 use their power to change it. I can help, but ultimately those w power have to actively let go of it (whether or not they asked 4 it in 1st place). Likewise for our own set of privileges

If people: 
valid points. I feel you.
 

If I: 
If JPMorgan today announced all its business practices would be fair and it would act only 4 common good, Id be impressed, but still cautious. Id want 2 see the commitment. Maybe a better person would jump right in and offer precious time/resources to make it happen. But if corporate greed has put me behind 8ball, Im not going 2 b excited 2 make big scarifies 2 help them w ‘the common good.’ Maybe I should, but it takes time to build trust after a shift like that. Even if it’s a new CEO (uninvolved in 2008), that person is still a part of the culture/legacy. Start w service to gain trust, rather than expecting ppl will join b4 knowing u or ur heart. It takes a TON of time, but compare it to ur ~20 yrs, and the long periods of historic mistrust that came b4. Half a year is simply not enough.

I hear ur frustration. U have made drastic changes that are all in the right direction. On the whole, it is really great what u have done. I am sure u r well ahead of the curve. Of course we can all always do more. I understand if u r tired. Perhaps this service is plenty 4 u right now. But doesn’t change that there is more. If that is frustrating, better to ignore outside opinion all together.

Thank you for ur patience and dialogue.

59 comments:

  1. Add your voice to the conversation. Does #Occupyrepresent you?

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  2. @justindlong: @StrngeFruit They represent the portion of the 99% that agree with them. 

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  3. RT @j_dorn: @justindlong @StrngeFruit Patently untrue; we represent the portion of the 99% that represent themselves or show us how to represent them

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  4. So a portion (%) of the 99%....which by definition means you are not the 99%...haha!

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  5. RT @justindlong: @j_dorn @StrngeFruit John's comment is a smaller portion of what I said. If I don't agree, I won't do what he said. Apathetic wont either

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  6. RT @j_dorn: @StrngeFruit @justindlong True, but those groups that feel underrepresented can come change our message. It's not about whether we agree 

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  7. RT @justindlong: @j_dorn @strngefruit so what are the unchangeable non negotiables in ows?

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  8. RT @Onenessministry:  I don't know all I know is abunch of camping out w/no MSG would rather OCCUPY the white house/ congress/ Senate

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  9. From everything I observe, I don’t think that is
    an accurate characterization at all

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  10. RT justindlong: @StrngeFruit @j_dorn Only problem with that idea is: to what extent can the message be changed? Where is the line? #StandFirm

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  11. RT @Onenessministry: @StrngeFruit: I think there should be a grass roots leader representing the 99% with a message or demands. What is goal right now?

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  12.  I cnt speak 4 others, bt isnt that part of point:2 decentralize power frm 1? thus group is the unit? @j_dorn cn say bttr..

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  13. RT @Onenessministry: @StrngeFruit: I think there should be a grass roots leader representing the 99% with a message or demands. What is goal right now?

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  14. RT @justindlong: @StrngeFruit @j_dorn Only problem with that idea is: to what extent can the message be changed? Where is the line? #StandFirm

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  15. I cnt speak 4 others, bt isnt that part of point:2 decentralize power frm 1? thus group is the unit? @j_dorn cn say bttr..

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  16. RT @Onenessministry: @StrngeFruit @j_dorn I said "represent" a mouth piece per se. I mean what is the next move . The only people being arrested prtstrs not WS

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  17. RT Onenessministry: @StrngeFruit @j_dorn Moses, Jesus, Ghandi, mother Theresa, MLK. Has there a success movement anywhere w/o a figure head? Just saying. :)

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  18. This just in, Black churches just announced joining the Occupy Movement, calling it, “Occupy the Dream.” : http://reconciliation101.wordpress.com/2011/12/15/ows-now-in-color/

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  19. RT @j_dorn: @justindlong @strngefruit nonviolence, equality. Everything else is debatable

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  20. RT @j_dorn: @StrngeFruit @onenessministry we have a leader... our leader is our combined voice, the general assembly

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  21. MT @j_dorn: @StrngeFruit @onenessministry doesnt mean it cant b done. Im sure ther were many mvmts w leadrs that failed b4 the 1st succeeded

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  22. RT @Onenessministry: @StrngeFruit @j_dorn: ok.. I am eager to see how it works out.

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  23. RT @TrUUlySocial: @StrngeFruit @Onenessministry @j_dorn Civil Rights had many leaders, each spoke for many people. No one person was responsible for success.

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  24. MT @Onenessministry: @StrngeFruit @truulysocial @j_dorn your right but I could see and hear them and knew their specific goals.....all u know from #occupy is how corrupt WS is. What r ur demands

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  25. RT @TrUUlySocial: @Onenessministry @StrngeFruit Specific demands for economic policy & legal reforms? How about "make it work, that's why we voted for you." MLK wanted "equality". He didn't write any laws, either. #OWS wants accountability. That's a clear goal.

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  26. RT @Onenessministry: @StrngeFruit @truulysocial How and what mechanism is #OWS using to demand accountability?

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  27. RT @DaHaFa: @StrngeFruit @Onenessministry @j_dorn The message is Change. The demand is Change. There is no end goal, but lots of them in the middle.

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  28. RT @DaHaFa: @StrngeFruit @Onenessministry @j_dorn Yes, in fact there is, its members were hopeless. It started in 1935 and is still going strong.

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  29. RT @justindlong: @StrngeFruit @j_dorn @dahafa @onenessministry without a plausible promise how will they know when "change" is reached?

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  30. RT @DaHaFa: @justindlong @j_dorn @onenessministry Most will know truth and honesty when it appears. $ out of politics is a fine, fine start

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  31. RT justindlong: @DaHaFa @strngefruit @j_dorn @onenessministry money out would be good. Wonder how protest will achieve that. You need $ limits not total out

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  32. RT @DaHaFa: @justindlong @j_dorn @onenessministry Limits tried too many times in past. $ and most lobbiest out, TOTALLY! 1 voice is 1 vote

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  33. RT @DaHaFa: @justindlong @j_dorn @onenessministry Come on down, participate, and watch how it accomplises that. Nobodysaid it will overnite

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  34. #Occupy communicates its msg...smh: MT @DaHaFa: 
    @justindlong @j_dorn @onenessministry w all due respect, which isnt much, kindly STFU :)

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  35. @TrUUlySocial @Onenessministry thought more abt this: tho MLKs ultimate goal was broad, each protest was specif: buses, garbage union etc..

    His early events were more vague and didn't work so well at all...

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  36. RT @justindlong: @StrngeFruit obviously they have forgotten the first amendment. & that which does not kill us makes us stronger. Oh well. Not priority 2me

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  37. RT @TrUUlySocial: @strngefruit @Onenessministry Light weekend reading gave me scripture to share w/ every Christian who does not support #OWS: James 2;5-7

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  38. RT @tjhoiland: @titasoto @StrngeFruit @thecaswell6 thanks for the Zech 7:10 RT - may we all remember the widow, orphan, sojourner & poor today & everyday.

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  39. RT @tjhoiland: @titasoto @StrngeFruit @thecaswell6 thanks for the Zech 7:10 RT - may we all remember the widow, orphan, sojourner & poor today & everyday.

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  40. RT @tjhoiland: @titasoto @StrngeFruit @thecaswell6 thanks for the Zech 7:10 RT - may we all remember the widow, orphan, sojourner & poor today & everyday.

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  41. RT @TrUUlySocial :
    @strngefruit @Onenessministry So true. Like sit-ins at banks, blocking ports, & Occupying Wall St. The goal is clear, but not the path.

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  42. @TrUUlySocial @Onenessministry Gr8 verse! Very relevant! My only problem, is that im not convinced its the poor speaking at #Occupy...
    bt rather an entitled mddle class. Still important msg 2 rich, bt also not the 99% (http://tiny.cc/k2a1q)

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  43. RT @tjhoiland: @titasoto @StrngeFruit @thecaswell6 thanks for the Zech 7:10 RT - may we all remember the widow, orphan, sojourner & poor today & everyday.

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  44. @TrUUlySocial @Onenessministry Gr8 verse! Very relevant! My only problem, is that im not convinced its the poor speaking at #Occupy...
    bt rather an entitled mddle class. Still important msg 2 rich, bt also not the 99% (http://tiny.cc/k2a1q)

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  45. RT @TrUUlySocial: @StrngeFruit @Onenessministry Many protesters in #OWS have middle-class backgrounds. They are fighting to get back to that state.

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  46. @TrUUlySocial @Onenessministry Exactly my point. Are you agreeing? (sorry...got confused)

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  47. RT @TrUUlySocial: @strngefruit Not quite. The "entitled" middle class are still willing to fight, as many poor are not. & the "middle" is a lot poorer now.

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  48. RT @TrUUlySocial: @strngefruit Not quite. The "entitled" middle class are still willing to fight, as many poor are not. & the "middle" is a lot poorer now. Many #OWS protesters are college grads, but unable to find work. They were promised a future that won't come w/out change. Their background is middle class; they can't be considered such, now. They want the security their parents had.

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  49. @TrUUlySocial I agree. And their issues are important. But they still have many many privileges. It's not the issue of 99%. It's the 25-60%

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  50. RT @TrUUlySocial: @StrngeFruit Many can #Occupy simply because they are already homeless. Forclosures are a major #OWS issue. Again, the middle has gone down.

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  51. @TrUUlySocial this is common fallacy. Homeless does not mean idle. Many must still work frantically just to survive

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  52. @TrUUlySocial big diff btwn generationally disadvantaged, and those who have education, family, previous stability. Again, #OWS issues are important, but are of those that have lost some previous privlege...not the same as 99%

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  53. Update: I went to visit the #OccupyColumbus site yesterday to meet @J_dorn and @dahafa . Ironically, they were not there because they were off buying a new computer. smh. My point exactly. 

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  54. Well to be fair we were doing that because we had our computer stolen. That computer came out of the pocket of one of our members

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  55. Very sorry that happened. 

    But again. You had a computer. You have the funds to get a replacement. the 25-66% can do that. The rest of the 99% cannot. 
    All I'm saying, it's privilege. 

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  56. So at what point do things like being able to afford a new computer cease to be privilege and become the result of hard work?

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  57. So at what point do things like being able to buy a computer from my own pocket stop being privilege and start being the result of incredibly hard work? It seems as though nobody white/male can do anything without being "privileged."

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  58. At the point when merit and hard work are the only factors that determine who has a computer. 

    Or do you honestly believe folks with out computure don't work as hard as you do? 

    You are privileged, but that doesn't mean you don't work hard (or that there arn't others with even more privledge than you). It just means that your hard work gives a better yield than with those w/o such privilege. 

    You start from a different level and so can work for different things. While you work hard to be able to obtain a computer, others exaust themsesvles just to survive...to get to a level where they can even think about computers. You are already there so can move from that point. 

    Millionaires make your same argument about the hard work they've done to become CEOs and own yachts. Yes, hard work went into to, but so did a certainly amount privilege to be able to navigate calamity while others languish. (sorry for my ridiculously slow response time)

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